Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Hard Lessons of Life
Yesterday, I was working the polling place as an election judge. I got a call from Hubby early in the afternoon to inform me that my Granny had been taken to the hospital with the suspicion that she'd had a stroke. Of course, I could do nothing but worry because I couldn't leave. We talked to the two boys and told them about their great-grandma. She's 94, has lived a good life, but in the past 4 or 5 years, her health has declined and she's pretty much wanted to die. All her siblings have died; most of her friends have died. She's just ready to go. And mad at God because she's not gone yet. The "boys" are mid-20s and nearly-20. They've seen "very old" and "very dead" people. They've never seen anyone seriously ill. When my dad died of cancer, before he died, he reached a certain point where he "banned" all the grandkids from coming to visit. He said, "They're young and I don't want them to remember me like this." So the boys have never really seen this up close. Granny can't remember Hubby's name. She remembered one of the boys but not the other. And she thinks Hubby is married to my cousin. She doesn't remember ever being married (she was married to my Grandpa for 61 years) and says she's 68 years old. She doesn't remember her younger daughter, but does remember her older daughter (my mom). She says she remembers me, but since we have the same name, I'm not sure if she's recalling the 'name' or the 'person.' The boys went up to visit Granny today. I'm proud that they did, without my having to take them there. But I was also worried. Kid # 2 sums it up this way: "Hospitals make me puke." And Kid #1 is just not good with the whole concept. I called Kid #1 today after the visit. He's in a pretty somber mood and said, "This really stinks. I'm really sad that she doesn't remember my brother." I feel bad. You want to protect your kids, no matter how old they are. You want them to be safe and happy and successful and never have to be hurt or sad. But you know in your heart of hearts that, eventually, they will have their own trials, their own heartbreaks, and they'll experience what you have: the illness and death of someone close to them. I don't know how this will all play out. She could remain just as she is or she could have another, bigger stroke which will give her what she wants: a trip to Heaven. Needless to say, I've been teary all day, when I think about it. I know in my own heart of hearts that none of us lives forever. I know how lucky we are to have her here at 94. And I know she's really ready to go. But I know that this is the Granny I've known all my life, and even at 50, something like this makes me feel 11 again and wishing that I could hide away till it's all resolved. But I can't. I have to be strong for my own kids. And I have to be strong for my siblings and my mom. The boys will learn this lesson as they've learned other lessons. And we'll cry and mourn when Granny dies. And we'll get through it. Yes, it's going to hurt, but yes, we'll learn this lesson, too.