My last living grandparent passed away this morning. I’ve cried off and on all day. But it’s a weird sadness this time around. I’m sad that I’ve lost my grandmother, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.
My grandma and I had a strange relationship. She was the strict grandparent when I was growing up. My parents were more lenient, letting me blow bubbles in my milk, letting me leave food on my plate, wear black. My grandma was one of those old school matrons telling me that kids were starving in Africa and therefore I had to finish my plate. She rarely babysat since she lived on a different island and when she did visit it was for vacation, not to babysit. Nevertheless, I still asked that she not be in the typical rotation of babysitters due to her strictness.
In high school my parents would have to travel for business conferences 1-2 times a year. Call it good parenting if you will, but even with a license they never let me stay home unattended to take care of myself and my sister. BOOOOO! (Actually, I think they did let me stay home in charge during my senior year. I played hooky, got caught and yeah… that’s a story for another time…. but maybe they were right not to trust me.) Anyway, they always asked someone new to watch us (I assume because after just one stint watching me and my sister people went running for the hills), from cousins to paid babysitters to my grandma once. When it was my grandma’s turn it was the best. She threw a party at our house. Take that parents for not trusting me with a house to myself! Guess who shot up to favorite babysitter after that?!
My grandma was still strict but I was a perfect child by high school so we got along great. While I clearly wasn’t actually perfect (see playing hooky comment above), I knew what my grandma disliked – slutty (read: modern) clothes, black clothes, boys that wore hats backwards, boys that wore hats in general… and I was the grandchild that played by the rules. I always showed up in a knee length pastel-colored skirt and on the rare occasion that a boyfriend was dragged to a family get together – he knew the rules too. So I was the one that escaped without further criticism.
Then I went to college and our relationship grew. She would send me care packages and write me long letters. And while email was certainly up and running by this time and I was ALWAYS on AIM my freshman year, it wasn’t unheard of yet to write long letters back and forth in the mail. She became my pen pal.
And then the Alzheimer’s kicked in. While it was never a fun time, listening to the same story retold just a few minutes apart of each other (such as what happened the day the above picture was taken) was more of a slight sadness than in the end when she had no idea who I was at all.
I flew back to Hawaii 4 years ago to say goodbye to her. I was devastated. I missed my friend’s wedding in order to be there with my Grandma and had to get special permission to leave work during a busy time. I wouldn’t change that decision for anything and would make the same decision again given what I know now, but the result was she got better. She got off hospice. She recovered.
I had already moved back in Hawaii the next time there was a big scare. But first I was sick and therefore couldn’t visit and then I was going on vacation. I was so worried that I would get a call that she passed away while I was gone and I would have to live with the guilt that I preferred to spend time with Mickey over seeing my Grandma one last time. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. She made a recovery.
Which is why when I came home crying yesterday to tell Ryan that I had heard my grandma had been given maybe hours to just a couple days to live, he tried to be understanding but he ended up smirking and told me “that lady has more lives than Senior Chang… including his stint on The Hangover”. I agreed she would probably outlive us all.
We were both wrong. My last living grandparent passed away this morning and I cried. I cried for a person that I had wanted to pass away for so long. Don’t stop reading now, I’m not as heartless as you think. She couldn’t speak, she didn’t know who anyone was, she was bedridden. The world was cut off to her. I wouldn’t wish that life on the worst person in the entire world. You want a rapist or a murderer to live through the worst hell? Don’t give them a lethal injection, force them into a life like THAT. So yes, I wanted my grandmother to pass away. I wanted her to be at peace. To be reunited with her husband and her daughter and her baby boy in a world where she could painlessly look down on all of us and remember her huge family that loves her. I am happy for her. But I am devastated to live in a world where I no longer have my grandmother.
I love you grandma! Rest in peace