My grandmother left this mortal existence on Saturday, April 10, 2010, at about 6:45 pm, three weeks shy of her 80th birthday.
It's an odd thing, mourning the death of someone who 'died' years ago. Her body was with us, inhabited by a bitter, angry old woman; my Gramma was long gone, stolen away by Alzheimer's and dementia. I've been mourning her loss for years.
I ask this honestly: How do you mourn the death of someone who didn't know who you were, but resolutely did not like you? Who was so mean to your kids in the last six to eight years of her life, but who once gushed to her friends about her great-grandchildren? How do you cope with the conflicting feelings of distant sadness and not-so-distant relief?
I'm sad that she's really gone, and I'm relieved that she's at peace. No longer burdened by a failing body and mind.
But more than that, I'm relieved that my mom can now be at peace. My mom sacrificed so much to care for her mother. Countless times, through various accidents and injuries, she brought her own life to a halt to sit by her mother's hospital bed. For the last two years (or more) my mom has gotten very little sleep thanks to the baby monitor in Gramma's room and Gramma's nightmares and seizures and sometimes habit of getting up in the middle of the night and heading out the door. My mom gets migraines which I think are stress and sleep-deprivation related (though she disagrees). And that's just the stuff I saw. I don't even want to think about the personal hygiene stuff, or the seizures, or the incontinence, but my mom was there to deal with it all. Now she can truly sleep at night, knowing that Gramma is receiving the Ultimate care.
On Thursday I was able to spend the day at Gramma's bedside. To see her in so much pain, unable to articulate even where she hurt, crying out at the slightest touch or disturbance... it was sad. That Alzheimer's can reduce a once proudly stalwart woman to the demeanor of a whimpering infant is... scary.
The funeral is this week in Ohio. I can't afford to go. Which is a little frustrating when I think about it. I want to go and celebrate who she was with people who have little knowledge or appreciation of who she became. I want to be reminded of the wonderful Gramma she used to be, so that those memories can usurp the more recent ones. I want my kids to learn about the woman she was from other people, because they have no memory of a nice Gramma.
But we'll say goodbye here in Texas. Look at pictures. Bake some pizzelles. I'll do my best to remember for my kids. And think about/pray for family gathering in Ohio. (We love you!)
In writing this post, I went back through this blog, reading about other times I wrote about the loss of my Gramma:
The chaos and healing of her car accident in June 2006
Mourning the loss of my 'real' Gramma in December 2008
Once again remembering (and missing) the lost Gramma in November 2009
If you have a good memory or two of my 'real' grandmother, please feel free to share in the comments :) I would appreciate it.
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