Today, I am grieving the loss of a special woman.
As a child, I loved visiting my grandparents’ house, and thinking back, this was mainly because of my grandma. She loved my brother and me, and always made our visits to the countryside in Ohio fun.
Unlike our home in Michigan, there were acres of land to run around on. We drove tractors and shot BB guns. We ate the pies and jams she would make, and we never wanted to leave.
Grandma was the life of the family. Everything revolved around her. She made the plans, she had the holiday gatherings. She ran the show. Life was always that way, and I loved it. It was comfortable and full of love.
My childhood was defined by these events and my grandma’s house, but in early adulthood that all changed. In 2004, grandma had to have a surgery to remove some cancerous polyps from her colon. It was to be pretty routine, but she was scared. The day of her surgery, I talked to her on the phone.
I told her everything would be okay, and that God would make sure of it. I was wrong.
I’m fuzzy on the exact complications, but it doesn’t matter. She went septic after the surgery, and almost died from the complications. Thankfully, my dad made the decision to have her airlifted to The Cleveland Clinic. They saved her life, but her life would never be the same.
Grandma became a different person. She didn’t initiate conversations anymore. She struggled to walk, and she was worried when leaving home. When I came to visit her in the years after her incident, she wouldn’t get out of her chair to greet me at the door, opting instead to continue watching her favorite TV shows.
Occasionally, I would get a glimpse of her former self when we would talk about stories from the past. These moments were fleeting though, and they always left me with a reminder of what once was, and that always made me sad.
While her new personality was a hard, stark contrast to the grandma of my childhood, there was some silver lining: my grandma didn’t know that she had changed. The rest of the family was sad, but she was not. In her mind, she was the same person as always. It gives me a little comfort in knowing that this is how she saw herself, and she never knew the difference. While the rest of us in the family had emotional pain, at least she did not.
In my adult life, I really liked talking to my grandma about her past. It was special for me because it felt like “the old days”. She would tease my grandpa, remember the smallest details of a trip with friends, and finish a funny story with her famous giggle.
As of yesterday, grandma is no longer physically with our family. She lived a long life. She had children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren that loved her. My grandpa remained by her side until the end. She passed away without any pain, in her sleep, in her nursing home bed.
I am sad. I am emotionally overwhelmed with memories of her voice, her laugh, and her hugs.
I’ll miss you deeply, grandma. I will always love you.
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