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Monday, January 31, 2011

My Great Grandma is Dying

My great grandma, who is ninety, is dying. Her heart has weakened, hospice has been called in and someone sits with her all hours of the day and night.

My mom, my sister, my two year old niece and I went to see her Sunday afternoon. Honestly, I do not recall a time only the four of us have done anything together - except maybe sat in the hospital when my niece was born - and we had a good time out and about today. The January sun shone brightly and cheered our travel. We giggled and laughed and drank coffee. My niece and I made funny faces and skipped across the parking lot together, her in her princess shoes, glittery skirt and fancy pink beads.

My great grandma always scared me as a child. She is tall. And wore heels. She spoke loudly and I could never tell her and her sister - who was always with her - apart. I thought they were twins. I would go to hug my great grandma, get my aunt, they would look all the long way down at me, exclaim "oh my lands", pat my back roughly and off I'd go....scared to death being the timid girl I was (am).

Growing up, I never thought much of her.

Sometime after my husband and I married and settled here, she began to show up at the house. She always came bearing chocolate of all sorts (whatever holiday had just passed, that was the chocolate she brought. She always informed me of the great price.). She brought me tablecloths that I loved but was afraid to use. Baking dishes. Kitchen towels. Balls for the boys to play with or coloring books and crayons.

Then she would sit at my table, look at the chaos around us, smile a bit, and tell me a bit of when she lived on a farm.

I had never known this.

And in her visits, she became very dear to me.

And life being what it is, I never made it out to see her at her apartment.

Until today.

My Aunt (her daughter) was there and I have always liked my Aunt B. She is stylish and sweet and kind and I have always admired her. In a chair, bundled in a white blanket someone had painstakingly made, was a shell of the woman who had visited me.

My great grandma.

What do you say to a dying woman?

After a bit of time and small talk, I asked Aunt B if she knew where any pictures of the farm were. I had never seen any. She dug around a bit and showed me a stack of old pictures, none of which were the farm, but all were pictures of my great grandma.

Young.

Huge smile upon her face.

Twinkle in her eye as her shoulders were flung back and her head was held high.

She oozed spunk.

She wore heels.

Her arm was always around my great grandpa - whom I never met.

I had never seen a young photo of my great grandma before.

As I was flipping through them, great grandma's sister - the one I used to always confuse for her - came in to visit. Dressed in a house dress, her earrings, socks and shoes all matching, she hugged her sister and sunk into a chair to chat with the company.

Someone came across a photo of a truly hideous Christmas tree and they all began to recall Christmases where the tree had been cut from some top of a huge pine tree up north, hauled home to be put up where all the needles would dry up and die before Christmas was over. How my great aunt's husband would suddenly disappear while all the kids were clearing the table and washing up Christmas dinner, grumbling over how they wanted to open up presents when suddenly SANTA would appear, hohohoing as the dishes were just done.

Great Grandma and her sister chuckled, sisters whose eyes were far away recalling past memories.

My Great Grandma, oblivious to all of us but her sister in that moment, croaked out "Those were the good old days, weren't they?"

My great aunt rocked a bit in her chair. "Mmhmm, those were. Those were the good old days."

Silence held a moment as they were lost in their thoughts.

And it was then, holding those old pictures, looking at my great grandma and her sister that it struck me...........

Those good old days?
Those are the moments I am living RIGHT NOW.

THIS moment when the boys are all seeming to make me go crazy but still run up and give me hugs good night and kisses on my cheek and want to snuggle a bit.

THIS moment my sister is in, huge pregnant and due in mere days with her second baby.

THIS moment when I have a husband to wrap his arms around me, to protect me and care for me. When our future, as much as one can see, is laid before us.

And I can lean my head back on my strong husbands shoulder, laugh with him at the antics of our children, and know I have been blessed.

THIS MOMENT.

This frozen moment in time.

Tired mothers out there, grasp this. Do not wait until the moment has passed and you missed it, worried over getting past it.

It was just yesterday to a ninety year old woman.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Treasure these moments with your boys and husband, and Mom and sister and how lucky you girls are now to share all these times on a "Computer" with friends and family, near and far. Your Great Grandma isn't dying, she is going away, and will have a room waiting for you and other members of the family. She will always be near and dear to you, in your heart. I have to think this, because I know that is what my "Mom" is doing. Her and my "Dad" are just waiting for me. Someday....

Amy said...

M'kay, I'm bawling at my desk. Shame on you for making a prego bawl. KIDDING. This post is beautiful and the best part about the reminder in it, is that I get to be sharing in this moment with friends like you.

Karen said...

Denise. This is beautiful. I know I declared one of your past posts my all-time favorite. But, today, this post has the become my all-time favorite.

Your writing in this piece is sublime. I can SEE you great grandma. I can envision your visit with her. You have painted such an amazing picture for us.

And then you left us with words of truth and wisdom. Words that I need to hear.

Thank you Denise for sharing this post!

Becca @ Our Crazy Boys said...

I love this post.

When you talk to older people, who have lived a full life and are dying? Ask them their favorite memories. Ask for words of advice. Tell them what they mean to you.
They know they are dying, and probably aren't thinking of it as a taboo topic that you shouldn't mention. :)

Big hugs to you today.

fritzfacts said...

Simply beautiful...I don't even have the words.

auntsheri said...

Denise Lynne.....I could see them and hear them as your mom told me of the visit last night. So happy you were together sharing the moments with them....and reminding us all the the moments we are in today. I love you:>) Aunt Sheri
P.S. You will be in those treasured moments when your mom and I sit in our chairs and remember.

Chelsea said...

This is beautiful, and such a great reminder to live. Truly LIVE. I'm sorry that you're losing your great grandmother. She sounds like a spectacular lady.

Boy Crazy said...

What an amazing post, Denise. My grandma just died a few months ago. It resonated with me. And these precious gifts we've been given. These ARE the good ol' days. Thank you.

Kristy said...

LOVE this post Dee... you made me cry. :) It was a good cry because what you said is oh so true! Hang on and cherish all those moments you have. They grow up too fast.
Thanks Dee for the reminder!