Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Making a list and mentioning it twice ....
I received one of those emails the other day where you're supposed to fill in the answers and pass it on to other e-friends and back to the person who sent it to you. I only filled it in and sent it back to the person who sent it to me because I was being lazy. However, I thought I had some neat answers to some questions so I'll put them here and offer you some insight to my angst-ridden, quasi-peppy, semi-depressed, multi-layered soul.
( X ) Watched someone die
Okay, I took some liberties with this one but I was there when my maternal grandmother had her stroke and was DNR for the better part of a week. She was living in a local nursing home, which ironically was the same place where my mother was working in a supervisory capacity. My uncle had flown in from Minneapolis where he is a doctor and we all rotated time spent with my grandmother who was breathing but not alert.
My grandmother was more of a mother figure for me because my own mother had me a few months after her senior year graduation in high school. I lived with my grandmother when I was very young, along with my mother. I spent weekends there after my mom married for a second time doing kiddo things like watching cartoons, staying up late, taking long walks, trying to sell rocks by the country roadside, making mud pies, and swinging on my swing set. My nana's house was a haven for me, my own utopia, my safe place for the most part.
The week when my grandmother had her stroke my paternal grandfather unexpectedly had a heart attack and died before my maternal grandmother did. It was the weirdest and most unusual February break I've ever had from school. Two funerals on two different sides of the family within the same week. And that was the end of the grandparents I knew.
I digressed though, and now back to my nana. There were times when our "visiting" overlapped amongst my mom, uncle, and me. Those felt uncomfortable as if too many people were trying to force themselves into such a tiny room. Too many different emotions and thoughts all going on at once.
I preferred going in at night to "visit" by myself when my mom and uncle were gone. I liked the quiet but I would also turn on the TV and watch the news or a game show and play along while I sat there. I painted my nana's fingernails, something she liked having done because she couldn't do it herself due to her Parkinson's disease. I talked talked to her about stuff and prayed with her and for her. My grandmother was a very religious woman and had clutched in her hands a rosary and some religious medals throughout those several days as we watched and waited.
There were times when she would seem to stop breathing for too long and I would look at her face and see if this was the last moment. It never was while I was visiting but those moments would come and I'd be plunged into shock and sadness. I would try to hold back the tears while I was there because there were always nurses and aides coming around to check on her. I didn't want others to share in my pain.
I'd speak to her in a soothing voice and tell her it was okay to go. She didn't go though, not for several days. She was a tough woman in life underneath her soft exterior. She spoiled me rotten as I was growing up and it was clear that I was the favorite grandchild. (Finally, I was the favorite with someone!) She had a difficult childhood with a mother that died very young and a father that left the family behind. My nana grew up in a house raised by her older siblings, dirt poor to the point where she didn't even have underwear for a certain point in her life.
She was married to a man that loved her and I have some of those love letters from him to her during WWII. That correspondence was one of the few things I was able to take away from my grandmother's apartment as it was being cleaned out and things sold during a time in my life when my mother was very angry with me and not speaking to me. My grandfather was a tall and thin man who worked hard and they grew up saving all their pennies and then some. But, my grandfather, my poppy, had a temper and would lose it and take it out on my nana. He'd swat her and call her stupid and I recall my nana cowering at times and crying. Maybe that's part of why my mother made the choices she did and I married an abusive man.
Regardless, she loved me thoroughly and with no boundaries. I watched the one person who I was certain loved me completely slowly leave me and it was awful and wonderful and frightening and moving and horrible.
I wouldn't trade it for anything though except maybe for one more day with her so she could see what I've done since she's been gone.