Memaw

This has been such a difficult week.

I found out on Tuesday night that my grandmother is being moved to a hospice room. Her kidneys are failing and she is not a candidate for dialysis. She doesn’t want to go through that anyway. So she has weeks, a few months at most. I cried. Then I started planning. That’s what I do when I’m upset: white-knuckle the illusion of control. I rearranged our Thanksgiving plans so we could spend it with my family instead of my in-laws. I planned out how I could get from DC to Gettysburg three out of the next four weekends (the fourth is Steve’s play). I looked into taking a week off at Thanksgiving so I could spend time with her. I sent her roses. I tried to call her on the phone, but she couldn’t hear or talk well, so that was pretty damn futile. Then, choking back tears, I went to the university bookstore and bought her a card and a teddy bear with a red t-shirt that says, Someone from X University loves me. I wrote up a list of 40 reasons why she’s awesome and emailed it to my dad so he could take it to her. I needed her to know, as soon as possible, how much she means to me.

Some of the reasons:

She has always told me I could grow up to do anything I wanted.

She taught me how to play Canasta and I taught Steve and now we play all the time.

She took me to a doll hospital once to fix my creepy old broken (but beloved) doll, Dolly.

When I was little and wanted a Babysitters’ Club book, she always made me buy a classic book too. It turns out that classics are awesome!

She reminded me once that "separate" has "a-rat" in the middle. Now I never misspell that word.

She has a good sense of humor. For instance, she can laugh at herself because she is scared of chickens!

She has been married forever (57 years). I want to be married forever too.

She knew what it was like to grow up with divorced parents, and she made it easier for me.

She taught me the importance of thank-you notes.

She loves me just the way I am, even though I am not perfect. Sometimes she loves me better than I love myself.

Dad just emailed me to say that he had to read it to her but it made her laugh a couple times. He said it’s difficult to carry on a conversation with her; she’s slipping in and out of a morphine haze. It is so hard to accept that this is happening so quickly. I wish to God I had known last week that it might be our last real conversation. I don’t know if it would have made much difference, really; we stayed for an hour and tried to be cheery and then she started falling asleep. I am trying to be content with the fact that she knows I love her. I am so glad now that no matter how many times she said, "I know you’re busy; it’s okay if you don’t have time to see us," I always made time to see her anyway. 

She has been my rock. At some point in childhood, you realize there are people you can run to with your tears. Through divorce and high school drama and inexplicable anxiety, she has been that person for me. I have been such a chatterbox, and bless her, she has been a good listener. And I’ve loved listening to her stories about her grandparents and her mom; about how she met my grandfather; about my dad when he was little; about me when I was little. There’s something wondrous and untangled about a grandparent’s love. I have basked and sparkled in that. I will miss it.

And yet there is so much beauty in the world. Orange trees. New books. The holidays. The election. I’m going to a rehearsal dinner tonight, and a wedding tomorrow, of my husband’s best friend. My other grandfather came through a heart-valve-replacement surgery successfully yesterday. I don’t want to lose sight of any of this either.

But mostly, I’m sad. There are some things you can’t really plan for, no matter how hard you try.

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