True Enough For You

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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Someone To Look Up To

My grandmother passed away kind of suddenly today. She suffered a stroke about 7 years ago and really hadn’t been the same since. Her cheery disposition turned a bit ornery and she wasn’t able to filter the things that came out of her mouth. It was high comedy, but it just wasn’t her character. Today she had another major stroke. It happened as she was standing up, and she fell down hard. The head trauma was too much to survive, and the hospital could do nothing for her. My mom, obviously broken, called me at work at 4:00 to tell me she fell. She called again at 5:30 to tell me that my grandmother had passed away.

I felt guilty at first because my first thought was, “Thank God.” I couldn’t stand the thought of seeing her suffer in a hospital bed until she perished. Growing up in the funeral business, I hate to see someone’s death become the defining moment of his or her life. When my other Grandmother died 13 years ago, cancer wilted her away to nothing. Now whenever I think of her, I have an image of her in a turban, almost skeletal, waiting to die. I vowed never to let someone’s death define his or her life in my head. Over a decade later, I wasn’t sure that I had the emotional wherewithal to handle watching someone I love so much suffer again.

Instead, my memories of my grandmother will be of a strong, vibrant, outspoken woman. At age 82, most of her hair was still jet-black and her eyes were bright blue. My liberal feminist bent can be attributed to her, despite the fact that she was a proud Republican. She was one of the first women to serve in the U.S. Coast Guard. She was happily married for 56 years. She and my grandfather took me to Disney World 6 times, and once we went on a road trip to Connecticut. She was always the first one to make fun of me when I did something stupid and the first to congratulate me for any accomplishment. She lived a block away, and for years I would stop at her house for breakfast in the mornings on the way to school and for milkshakes which should would make in her blender for me at night. (She always thought I was too thin). I would sleep over her house on Friday nights when I was a lad in the single-digits, and I would make her sleep in the bed with me until I fell asleep. I never came out to her, but I suspect she would not care too much, as long as I were happy. I will try not to mourn her death. I will celebrate her life.

She leaves behind a husband, 2 children, 1 brother and 5 grandchildren (3 of whom have her blue eyes). It still hasn’t sunk in yet, but I know I already miss her very much. And no matter how much I didn’t want to see her suffer, it will be little consolation once I realize that I won’t see her again. I was home last weekend and got to spend a little time with her. I sat on the porch with her and answered all her questions (she asked the same questions over and over). She asked if I were happy, and I said that I thought I was. She told me to make sure that I am happy all the time. I kissed her goodbye, told her I loved her and left. It was the last time I would ever talk to her while she was here on earth. But it’s not the last time we’ll ever talk.


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