Before marriage, I judged the chapters in my life by the boyfriend or apartment I had at the time. I can still hear a G. Love song and think of my single year between boyfriends, living it up, loving being single and cattin’ around, dancing with my drunk self after closing time in my one bedroom apartment.
Whether single or dating or married, it’s fun to close old chapters just as it is busting open new ones.
However, there’s one chapter I’m sure I’ll have to close over this 2009 holiday season that won’t be so exhilarating. The human chapter. Death of a loved one. Saying goodbye. I’m off to Kansas on Monday to visit my family for the habitual every-other-Christmas celebration (the off-year being with the in-laws 1,700 miles away), and soon after landing, I’ll be paying a visit to Grandma’s new nursing home.
At the beginning of the year, our 79 year old “matriarch” of the family was living on her own but with the usual health issues of a sedentary life-chain-smoker who has battled cancer. Half way into the year she needed assisted living. Two months of that consisted of changing meds to make the ol’ body work better, two more months were pretty good living, even partaking in the charades and socialization the assisted living home had to offer. She even had Lasik eye surgery on both eyes and was seeing well!
Then, out of nowhere, a severe stroke caused major brain damage in 3 of the 4 lobes of the brain, causing paralysis on one side of her body, including her tongue. Grandma.
She can recognize people, squeeze their hand, move the right side of her body, but hasn’t been able to speak at all. What will I do when I see her? How much will I sob? Will there be room for me in her bed? Will I have to assume her part of the dialogue or should I just do all the talking without assuming she is trying to talk to me?
I’ve been to many funerals. They do indeed suck extra special around the holiday. My mom’s birthday was this month and her own mom had the stroke a few days before that. If Grandma should die around the holidays, it will always mar Christmas for my mom and us all. But it’s inevitable, isn’t it? Do we wish her to live longer the way she is? Is she a Diving Bell and the Butterfly “locked-up” syndrome, or is she not that aware? This will be the first Christmas our family gets together without Grandma, the Matriarch of our genealogy branch.
Despite the end drawing near, I am still excited to go home, to see my family, to have my kids see them, laugh with my sister, and perhaps crawl next to my Grandma and say goodbye. My husband asked if I really wanted to see her this way. Well, of course! I have no choice and I see it as a blessing to have the opportunity to say goodbye. I’ve gotten the phone call before, the notification without the chance to say goodbye and it’s awful.
Season Finale for some. Series finale for others. You can’t get around it. That’s just how it is. Seventy Nine is a good age to die I suppose. I would never tell my mom that, but it’s true. Chapters end. Books end. Series end. Happy 2010.