Monday, May 23, 2011

They Tell Me My Grandmother is Dying

My grandmother announced last week that she is right with God and wants to stop receiving the blood transfusions that are keeping her alive. Within a day of hearing this, shaking it off and assuming she'd change her mind, she was entering a hospice and had met with her children and her doctor about DNR's, morphine and just how long she might live. The prognosis was not good, no more than a few weeks.

Despite all this very logical and purely factual information, I'm operating under the belief that she will not die, that her body will miraculous overcome the rare and supposedly fatal blood disorder her genetics have so cruelly bestowed upon her. Jeremiah seems worried about me, about how I feel, about how this type of thinking is harmful to me and to the kids.

The girls have thankfully been at their Dad's house all weekend. Jeremiah, Elijah, Rosey, Olivia, Maxine and I met my ex husband at the hospice on Friday night so the girls could visit Grandma in case she would die over the weekend. Rosey was so brave, laid in bed with Grandma for a very long time, crying silently. Olivia was not so brave, but you can't really blame her. She was inconsolable and even chocolate cookies couldn't cheer her up. Her Dad finally carried her away in a bundle of tears, red splotches and snot covered red tangles. It was strange watching him walk away from that place, carrying that tall, limby 8 year old like a little baby.

Maxine said, "Bye Grandma Bert. Can we leave yet?" She was pleased, however, that my Momma gave her cookies, cheez doodles and pop in the hospice's family room/kitchen area. Just writing this made me cry more than watching Olive in the throes of despair, my Grandmother should have been in the family room feeding Maxine junk with her own hands like a mother bird and a baby bird. This woman literally fed me my lunch until I was 13, would rock me in her lap when I was bigger than her. She's not very old for a great grandmother, just turned 75 on March 4th. Her mother in law was a 100 when she died, still gardened almost until the very end, that of course has nothing to do with my Grandma Bert. Her genetics are tainted by the very early deaths of both of her own parents.

I know I should be glad I've had all this time with her, I know I should be glad that she was there when I was born (and missed Bingo that night too!), I know I should be glad that she was there when Rose was born 11 years ago today (Happy Birthday Rosey!), I should be glad that I got to sing her so many songs, I should be glad that she and I slept together in the same bed and talked for hours on end, I should be glad she was there to talk to when Maxine had colic, or wasn't gaining weight. When I think of my Grandmother, I see her with one of my new babies in her arms, swaddling them tight against her and humming to them in her strange guttural tones. Or waking the baby up so she could see their eyes open, peeling off their clothes and running her painted fingernails across their tummies, just waiting to gaze into their eyes.

Right now I am sitting in her rocking chair, which my Pappy Jack gave her when I was born. "Every Grandma should have a rocking chair." I'm going to ask my Momma if I can have the photo of her rocking me in that chair.

If my Grandmother ever dies, of course. I'm fairly certain she will not.


Ms. Moon said...

It's okay to ride the river of denial a bit. Whatever gets her through. I respect anyone who takes control and says "enough is enough." It shows a life beautifully and richly lived.
I'm thinking of you. I know this must be so hard.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

She'll stay alive as long as she's remembered.

Sharon Longworth said...

I'm so sorry that she's coming to the end of her life, but so very, very glad that she has made such an impression on yours, and I know she will live on in your heart for a very long time.

Kristine said...

I'm so sorry Erin xo

Sue (Someone's Mom) said...

Well, we seem to have some experience with this the past year I'm sad to say. My mom died a year ago, my mother-in-law last month and my father-in-law is fading so quickly I will be surprised if he lives a month. I won't go into losing a words for that. I will tell you how my children (28 and 26) have agonized over this. They were so close to my mom and she hadn't been sick a day until she was very sick and quickly gone. Shock, anger, extreme sadness, inability to sleep...laughter, memories, rainbow messages and constant reminders. It has been a roller coaster for them and it will be for you but I will only tell you that the extreme sadness does get better and the happy memories do help.

michelle said...

she sounds like an amazing grandma. you are a lucky girl.

it's ok to fill up that hole in your heart with faith in miracles.


Logical Libby said...

I'm thinking of you and your sweet grandmother. And your sweet girls too.

Mwa said...

I'm sending you my thoughts. What a hard time this must be for you. x

Ally said...

Your heartbreaking post made me cry. Like you, I am very close to my grandma. She too practically raised me and was a second mom to me growing up. My grandma is 86 and has severe Alzheimer's. She hasn't been the same woman I remember in about three years now. It is so unfair that we must grow up and say goodbye to those we love. The circle of life is amazing, yet painful at the same time. She is very blessed to have you just as you are very spoiled to have her. This is how I feel anyway and I'm kinda sure you'd agree.

Virtual hugs.