A grandmother passes away
This year at sort of the last minute we decided to head back to my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky to visit my side of the family for the holidays. We figured we'd never know when the last time we'd see any of my four grandparents given their ages and various stages of decline and had better let them interact with our new son while they still could.
So we all hopped in our new car--the baby, all his stuff, the dogs, all their stuff, my husband and I and all our presents--and made the thirteen hour drive from Brooklyn to Louisville quite smoothly. That Friday before we left was a crazy one with all the packing and last minute work stuff. Then, on top of everything else, I got a third message from my mother.
In all the craziness I hadn't had a chance to call her back. The first message was a benign one, but when I picked up the phone to take her call she told me the news: my grandmother had passed away.
I'm almost 33 years old and am--or was--fortunate enough to still have all four of my grandparents. This summer when we made the initial trip with our then three month old son we thought it might be the only opportunity the grandparents had to see Mr. Pickles before they moved on. Sadly, that turned out to be true.
I don't even know if she received our photo Christmas card before she passed, also that crazy Friday. I didn't write them a thank you note for their gift because I thought we'd be seeing them in less than a week and I'd be able to say thank you in person along with a visit from the baby, whom my grandmother asked about every time she saw my parents, which was at least once a week.
And the fun family Christmas I envisioned in my mind before we got the news? Well, it fared about as well as the one Clark Griswold planned in Christmas Vacation. My other set of grandparents didn't even come up--they're so old now they don't feel well enough to drive, and with all this other business it would've just been too much.
My aunts and my dad seemed to be handling things pretty well, all things considered. My grandfather was putting on a brave face, but we all know how he really feels. He lost more than a wife; he lost his best friend and his partner in all things.
Instead of looking forward to New Year's and lazing around that odd time of year between Christmas and resolutions they're planning her memorial, which will be this Friday. My family will be staying in town the extra days so we can attend and be a part of everything, which I am happy to do.
In a way, her passing brought a lot of good. We got to see members of my family I normally never get to visit with. Everyone got to spend a lot of time with the baby, which I think may help everyone cope with my grandmother's death in the long run. We didn't have to drive thirteen hours to and back again in the span of like four days, which is hard with a little one.
Rather than continuing to decline into a worse state of health, or struggling to breathe and agonizing and suffering more and more each day, my grandmother went quickly and relatively painlessly. One of her daughters, trained as a nurse, watched her go. Christmas for her and for the rest of our family will always be also the anniversary of my grandmother's passing.
So it is with the holidays and all things, it seems, as we get older. There's always more than one side to something and we always have mixed emotions about the things that fill and sometimes complicate our lives. Yet for the first time in what seems like ages I got to do what people are supposed to do at Christmas: spend quality time with my family.