Goodbye, Grandma

I’m not exactly sure how I feel right now. My grandmother had a stroke last week which put her in the ICU. They didn’t think she was going to make it through the night, and while she still had no motor functions, she began speaking again, and we were all hopeful she would recover. The next day, she had another stroke, and has pretty much been out of it since. They removed the feeding tubes a few days ago, so now we are all just waiting. The only people they will let see her are my father and step-mother, with whom she was living. Tonight, my step-mom called and asked if I would want to say goodbye to grandma over the speakerphone, since they won’t let anyone else in to see her. I wasn’t even sure what to say. How do you say goodbye to someone who had such an impact on your life? The most difficult part, I think, was telling her that it was OK for her to go now. That we will all be all right, and we don’t want her to suffer any longer. I haven’t been able to stop crying since I got off the phone.

I can’t help feeling upset. Pissed, rather, at all the people who are so self-centered that they can’t be bothered to even wear a freakin mask. Pissed that I can’t give her one last hug because we are still struggling through this pandemic. The thing that keeps making me cry, though, is remembering all the amazing time I spent with her growing up. The countless nights my sister and I slept over at her house. All the times she took me bowling. Picked me up from school to take me to get my allergy shot, then to Sports Cards Plus to buy me baseball cards. Watching her watch “her story” at 1pm during the summer while I played with marbles, followed the Tigers whenever they were on TV. Convincing her to go pick up a friend so they could stay with us, too. Riding in the back of the tiny little Dodge Omni. Watching her get hair permed. Setting the timer on her exercise bike and then running and hiding when it went off. Helping her pick vegetables from her garden, and grapes from her vines. Playing lawn darts with her (the real ones), then going into her screened-in tent to play Yahtzee when it was too hot to be inside. Sitting at the dining room table listening to Randy Travis with her, and singing Diggin up Bones as loudly as we could. I can remember her telling me the story of meeting my grandpa when he was on leave during World War II, and when he left, her turning to her sister and saying “I’m gonna marry that man.” I really could go on for days.

My step-mom said that when I started talking to her, she turned her head towards the phone. I stopped over to my dad’s house just a few weeks ago on my way back from dropping off some things to the landfill. Even with my mask on, she still recognized me and called me by the correct name. I can very clearly remember the last time I saw her mom, my great-grandmother, before she passed. She had no idea who I was. While I understood, it was still painful. I’m so thankful that the last time I saw her, she knew who I was, even without seeing my whole face. And I believe she knew exactly whose voice that was a few hours ago coming through the speaker.

Waiting for the call the last week has been rough. Saying goodbye and telling her it was OK for her to go was worse. Now I’m back to waiting and praying. Hopefully being able to tell her goodbye, even over speakerphone, will help make it easier when she does finally pass. I can’t stand to think that she is in pain, and while I would love to see her again, I don’t want her to suffer any longer. So, I hope that call comes soon. When it does, I’ll try to continue remembering all the wonderful times I had with her, and know that she’s with grandpa once again.