It’s been two months since my grandma passed away. I’ve been working on this post for just as long. My last living grandparent; the strong, loving matriarch of my mother’s family. It was sad, but not unexpected.
At 93, she lived a long, full, incredible life. Up until 3 years ago, she was living in her own home, not the one my mother grew up in but one where my immediate family spent most Christmases and summer vacations visiting her.
A few years ago, she moved into a care facility where she had her own apartment, and minimal medical assistance (as necessary). It was really more like a resort, which is what my sister and I nicknamed it.
This past year, things took a turn and her health started to decline much quicker than we expected for someone who was so well her whole life. She went into the hospital and stayed there for months. Each day eating and moving less, losing weight, growing weaker.
Earlier this summer, we received a call from my aunt out in Manitoba (most of my mom’s family still lives there) and she told us that it would be a good idea to come out for a visit. The underlying truth being, if you want to say goodbye, come now.
Neither my husband or father to could make the trip work with such short notice, so off we went; my mom, sister and me. We spent the entire 3 days back and forth from the hospital to my aunt’s house, the time evaporating before our eyes.
My grandma rebounded while we were there. She was lucid, coherent, full of energy. She ate, she walked, she sat with us outside in the Manitoban heat wave. We read her bible verses and curled her hair. I was about 3 months pregnant, and she was one of the first people we told that it was twins. By the time we went back to the hospital hours later, the entire nursing staff knew. She was convinced I was having two girls. It was a lovely visit, all conditions aside.
Leaving was the worst. Knowing that inevitably it would be the last time that my sister or I would see her… we said goodbye in the least goodbye-y way we could. My mom made my grandma promise that they would see each other on her 93rd birthday in September. It was July when we were out there. We all hugged and cried, and then finally, brought ourselves to leave. That day happened to fall on my mom’s birthday.
My mom did end up going back in September for the big birthday celebration. My grandma rebounded yet again and made it through most of the fall. The last week of November was when we knew it was almost over. We received another “think about planning your flight” type of call, and we all waited, holding our breath.
The day she passed away was sad. But not unexpected. It sure doesn’t make it any easier knowing it’s going to happen.
And then I was told that I couldn’t fly out west for the funeral. I was 28 weeks pregnant with the twins and would have been 29 weeks on the date I would have to travel. My OB-GYN gave me a hard no on that. So my mother, father, and sister went together and my husband and I stayed home.
Oh, it was also my baby shower on the day of the funeral. I was stuck in this place between being with my family for support and closure, and then being with me to celebrate the pending arrival of my babies. Needless to say, I was a bit of an emotional wreck.
I handled it the best way possible; by having a total meltdown in the car on the way to my baby shower — because I forgot to put on mascara. Forgot to put it on, forgot to bring it, started crying, totally freaked out my husband, and then a full-scale meltdown ensued. It was the first time I had cried since hearing the news, so it was a big one. My husband, the ever-amazing rockstar he is, pulled over at the closest drug store, handed me his bank card and sent me inside to purchase a new mascara. I did just that, and then got back in the car feeling completely embarrassed, but at the same time completely tranquil about the whole thing.
I’m so happy that I was able to share my pregnancy with her while she was alive. I think she would have really loved the twins.