You know the saying ‘bad things happen in 3s?’ Well I am here to tell you that that theory is a bunch of phooey.
Here are the major bad things that have happened to my family so far in 2016:
- My mother-in-law died after a heroic, long battle with ovarian cancer
- Her husband, my stepfather-in-law, died suddenly from a stroke or, as we see it, a broken heart
- I got cancer
- My grandma is currently in end-stage hospice
Now let me get out of the way that many wonderful things have also happened, such as my healthy and thriving children, my husband’s secure job and health insurance, our home in a lovely neighborhood and, mostly, the intense love I have received from my friends and family.
Now that I have gotten the good things out of the way, let me circle back to the disasters.
Remember my recent post about my father dying? Well, my only grandparent left is his mother. She is 94 and, until recently, has been spry and mentally astute as can be. She suffered tremendously when my father died and has continued to mourn.
When she found out I had cancer, it gutted her in a way that was different from other people. I was told she would pick up the phone to call me, but start crying and hang up, as she was just too sad and afraid of what she would find on the other end of the line.
Grandma and I have always been peas in a pod. We share odd traits like our slightly off-base humor and our inability not to laugh when we see someone trip and fall (as long as we knew they were okay).
I will spare you the details, but grandma took a sharp turn a few weeks ago and, by the end of last week, was a candidate for hospice care.
Grandma has lived a very long and joyous life with her 6 beloved children and many grandchildren and great grandchildren. She misses my grandpa, who has been gone for a while now and she desperately misses my father.
Her physical health was failing, but her mind was crystal clear and she asked for hospice care right away. As a former nurse herself, she knew exactly what she was getting into. Though this decision is hard to swallow for her loved ones, it is her decision and, at least from my perspective, I respect it.
Despite the fact that I have surgery tomorrow (Wednesday), as soon as I heard the news, I booked a flight down to Florida, leaving Sunday morning. I knew if I didn’t get down there immediately, I would miss my chance to say goodbye as, post-op, I won’t be able to fly for a while.
What was arguably more important than saying goodbye to her, was giving her the opportunity to see me and see that I am better and getting better every day. I know she worried immensely about my welfare and it seemed plain wrong to let her pass without the assurance that I will be fine.
Dying with loose ends, like wondering if your granddaughter will live through cancer, is too much. I love her way too fiercely to let her move beyond earth without knowing unequivocally that I am past the worst and I will live a long, healthy life.
Grandparents are the reason we are here. The reason our children are here. Honoring them in any way we can needs to be more of a priority. I needed her to know how much I appreciate the life she gave my dad, the life he gave me and the life I have given to my children. She may not have left a worldly impact like inventing the lightbulb or something, but she created a whole network of love which is far more important than light.
Before I left this morning, I asked her a very important question.
“Grandma? When you get to your next destination, will you please tell my dad how much I love and miss him? Please let him know that I will be fine and give him a huge hug for me?”
She looked me in the eye with a wide grin and said,
“Gracie dear, he already knows, but I will tell him again.”
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Oh Grace, how loving and sweet and tender. No wonder you are the way you are.
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It’s all true. I was there (still am). I think it meant the world to Mom to see Grace looking robust and beautiful and OK. Love to all, Aunt Kate
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