There has been much talk in the last week or so about her among her descendants. One thing that I've thought again and again is how I've missed her for so long, I hardly know what to feel now. Dementia and the gradual break down of physical function took her from us long ago. She was very loved by the people at the home where she stayed her last years. Even when they were clearly tired and worn out, they always had a smile for her. And it speaks volumes to me that despite being practically catatonic for the last little while she never once had a bed sore. My uncle and aunt where perfect advocates for her, making sure she had her own room and going to see her as often as they could. I don't know how they did it, but I'm so grateful they did.
I've found that a lot of memories that I couldn't look at for a while now are surfacing. Remembering times from when I lived with her and before that. Not just the events, but her. Seeing her face, hearing her voice as though I were actually there again. I hadn't let myself do that. The in-between she's been in for so long, where she wasn't really with us anymore, but wasn't on the other side yet either was hard. There isn't another word for it. When I lived with her in Springriver, the retierment village/nursing home where she lived the last two decades of her life, we would go up to the "bighouse"( what we called the building with the apartments and the nursing home ) and visit some of the elderly there. She would always always tell me that she never wanted to live there, or live like that. In those days she could out walk me without trying she was so vivacious and alive! I know that a lot of what made it hard for me these last years was the guilt I felt that she was in the "bighouse". I don't know if I thought I should have had a place for her to be with me, or should have moved there, or if I just knew in a very personal way how hard that was for her. I also knew though, that she wanted so much for me, for all her grandchildren, and that she would never have begrudged me anything, it wouldn't have crossed her mind. I decided I had to deal with it, to try to overcome and live my life. I know that was a big part of how I finally got back in school and away from a very destructive situation, dealing with my feelings of guilt and making some peace with it.
Now I am grieving. Truly grieving. This is not some thing I do well, if anyone does or can do such a thing well. I do think that to do it at all is the beginning. I couldn't help but think of past times when someone close to me died, when I was four my father's dad died and when they told us I remember crying and crying, hard, with sobs and all of it. But I was four, so I don't think it continued to affect me. I have the impression that I dealt with it as best my little self could and that was that. Later, when I had just turned 11 my cousin Matthew died in a car accident. That was very difficult for the whole family. I clearly remember grandpa telling us there would be no TV the day of the funeral, the grief in his voice. I watched all the important people in my life try to deal with the unthinkable, but I didn't deal with it. I told myself he was up there playing basketball and waiting for the rest of us to come home and that was that, he was happy and that was what mattered. Less than a year later grandpa died.
I guess where I'm going with this is that I had occasion to grieve, but I don't know that I ever really figured out how to do it. I think most people just do it, but some of us have to consciously decided to do it. Some of us tend to prefer to act like everything is fine and this is just the natural course of things and any pain or trauma that we might feel gets ignored or shoved aside and dismissed, for whatever reason. I am not going to do that anymore. I don't care if anyone thinks I'm selfish for taking the time to grieve. I don't want to think twice about the value of making sure I do this, or if I should be more concerned with other things going on in my life.
Grammy was possibly the most influential person in my life. I mean that. So I need to make an effort to have great peace with her death and her life and how that entwines with mine.