Not so happy post

Double warning: 1) this post deals with RL and 2) it is not a happy/funny post. Read at your own risk.

Everybody at different points in their lives has to confront death. It is one of those universal laws out there that we are all going to die, and those we care about are going to die. We have adapted to handle our fear of death in a lot of different ways, from adopting religion, to living a careless lifestyle, to just ignoring it completely unless it smacks us upside the head.

I am 34 years old, and I have 1 remaining grandparent alive today. She turns 87 years old this Sunday, and unfortunately for the first time in her life she is starting to really slip physically as her body is starting to give out despite her mind still being young and active. I made an emergency trip down to visit her this last weekend, after she had just spent 6 days in the hospital, after becoming so weak she almost passed out. She had walking pneumonia and somehow let the sodium in her blood drop down well below normal, which has a 50% mortality rate.

Luckily she was out of the hospital, but seeing her on her couch too weak to get up and give me a hug was something that was really hard for me to take. I don’t know if everybody is like this, but I had one grandparent who was a particularly close person in my life. She babysat me all through the pre-school years, and can tell story after story of me tearing around the corner on my big-wheel, or how I made her swing me 157 times before I would take a nap, or the thousands of orange wedges she gave me, or how we painted her entire house (even though I only had a 1 inch trim brush as a 5 year old.)

My memories are of running in to teach her the latest sign language off of Sesame Street, or of spending at least a week every summer with her and Grandpa while they hauled me all over the Ozarks in search of a “mountain that I could climb,” or of many thousands of games of checkers, dominoes, or cards. My grandma has always been young at heart, had a really positive outlook about life, and would never say anything mean about anybody else no matter how dumb or wrong they had treated her.

It is really hard to have to let her go a little at a time, as I see her health declining. She tells me that she feels better than she ever has, and that she is getting better every single day, and I want so much to believe her, but I am not able to change what I am seeing before my eyes which is the truth that she is dying, and might not make it to her 88th birthday. I really hope she proves me wrong, but unfortunately I tend to be a bit of a realist and I can’t really buy into those odds.

I feel bad because it is really hard for me to be around her and spend time with her when she is failing so fast, because it tears me up, but then I think about all the things she has done for me in my life, and realize that I have to press on and try to hide my own feelings to be able to stay positive around her. I am not a religious person, so I can’t offer her any hope in that regard, but I can promise her that her memory will stay burning bright for as long as those who have ever met her are alive. I am committed to trying to do everything in my power to make her happy as long as I can, and just be thankful that she still has her mind and is able to enjoy the things we do for her.

She has been and continues to be an inspiration to me, and I hope that I can approach the end of my life with as much courage and dignity as she possesses.

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9 Responses to “Not so happy post”

  1. Meara Deschanel Says:

    /me hugs Hawks in empathy

    I just lost my paternal grandfather, in much the same way, so I understand how you feel and what you are going through. I wrote about it on my blog as well, as sort of a catarthsis for dealing with the situation, so I won’t re-hash it all here. Like you, I am in my early 30’s, and reaching that point in life where I’m realizing that the people I grew up with, the ones that raised me, aren’t going to be around forever. It’s hard watching someone you love slip away and no that you can’t do anything to prevent it. But what you can do is make the passage one that is filled with love and support. And I’m sure you will. πŸ™‚

  2. hawksrock Says:

    Thank you, Meara. Yes I am aware that mine is most definitely not a unique story, and in fact is one that almost every person has to deal with at some point in their own way. I very much appreciate the kind words, and the sense of empathy.

  3. I’m so sorry Hawks, but be SO happy that you HAD those memories.

    My paternal grandma died before I was born (cancer), maternal grandfather before I even turned 4 (waiting for my heart transplant), maternal grandma while I was only in 4th grade (in her sleep- think old age not sure), and my paternal grandfather this past week (old age- he was 91).

    We didn’t see my maternal grandparents much seeing as we lived in a complete other state as them, and my paternal grandfather I think I’ve met only once to my knowledge, and I barely remember it (I was maybe 5).

    Whenever my friends talk about their grandparents and how they’re off to see them for the weekend, or how their so close it makes me so sad because I never got to experience that, was never that close to my grandparents and I totally feel like I missed something SO important in life. I never got to hear how my parents grew up, about my grandfathers war stories, nothing.

    But it makes me SO happy to hear that your grandmother IS still alive and IS still here so you can share every single moment you can with her and cherish it so when she does go, you can say that you have good memories, and ones that you can pass on to your kids, and possibly they can pass it on to theirs.

    I’m so sorry you are going through this. It sucks. But in the end you’ll be a stronger person, and she will forever be with you in your thoughts, mind, and heart. Good luck Hawks!

  4. Hawks, I lost all my grandparents long ago. One of them – my maternal Grandmother – was the single closest person to me in the world. I miss her dearly, think of her often, and though no, I am not religious really, I feel her presence in my life constantly. My Nanny and I are still very much connected, even though she has been gone for a long time.

    I’m so grateful I knew her. I only wish I had had more time with her. I would have given anything to have been more mature when she first got ill so I could have better savored the lessons she had to teach – and know what they would mean later.

    I don’t know if you’ve ever talked about death with your Grandmother, but sometimes, often even, they’ve already made peace with what’s happening – and in some ways, knowing how she feels about it might comfort you too.

    Sending you support from afar. And thank you for sharing a part of her here.

    xx
    Gillian

  5. [huggles u soooooo tight] i think i ❀ ur Grandma already πŸ™‚ can’t wait to hear more about her .. our stories keep them alive, in our hearts + for those who didn’t get to kno them as well as we did. πŸ™‚

    u + i have a very similar religious position so i kno nothing of that nature can offer u any comfort .. i deffo agree with Gillian, talking is absotive best thing u can do, for Grandma + for u .. u’ll treasure those honest chats along with all ur thousands of other awesome memories. πŸ™‚

    [huggles of warm understanding + strength] <3!!!!

  6. hawksrock Says:

    Alexandra and Gillian, thanks for sharing your stories and unfortunately there are many combinations out there that people have had to deal with. It isn’t a happy subject, but I really appreciate your comments.

    Dreamer – there just like always. Thanks for being such a great friend!

  7. hawks if you have a chance take some time to video long convos with her. talk about your past your hopes for the future. we did this with my grandma and its great to have the oral history in video form. the memories are in your mind of course but video can be so powerful,

    anyway, hugs to you my friend. grandma helped you become the great man you are so i know she is as proud of you as she can be.

  8. I think it’s amazing that you’re able to blog about this.
    Altough it hurts, please enjoy the time left with her. I learned from experience that you will regret it if you don’t.
    I wish you and other people affected lots of strength & support.

  9. alyshassl Says:

    *walks in with a tissue to her eyes, hugs da Hawks, and walks out sniffling, mind racing with forgotten memories*

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