I knew it when I woke up this morning; something was off; something was different. I couldn’t put my finger on it- but I knew something was just “off.” I began my day, telling myself that after the week I’ve had, things were finally going to look up today. Then I got the text from my mom, stating that my grandma had passed.
My grandma was a smart, hard working woman. She was an educator & she staunchly supported the education of all of her children/grandchildren. She loved genealogy and she knew better than anyone about our family’s roots (I vaguely remember the name Laura Crowe). She was the person who taught me about lots of antiques, colored glass, and copper jell-o molds. She always ALWAYS had construction paper, safety scissors, glue, and pipe cleaners (guess that was the teacher in her?); anytime I wanted to craft something- she had everything I needed.
One of my most cherished memories with her was when she taught me how to bake bread for the very first time, the hard way (no bread machines). I was probably 10 or 11 years old; she was very patient. She taught me how to stir the milk so it didn’t scald, how to carefully activate yeast with warm (not hot) water, how to knead the bread, how to tell when it’s done, and, of course, butter the freshly baked loaf. I have never made a single loaf of any bread without replaying that memory in my head, going over the steps just the way she would. It’s weird to think I won’t be able to do that again with her, even though I haven’t been able to for some years now.
I do not think it’s coincidental that both my Grandma and Grandpa passed away within the same month. I think it was a testament to their love- and what an incredible lesson for me, only having been married one year, to have for an example a pair of Grandparents who loved each other, just as they promised, for the rest of their lives.
I really am glad she is at peace; she suffered for many years with Alzheimer’s. Or, to be more accurate, we (the family) suffered from her Alzheimer’s; from the forgotten birthdays, to the first time in Christmas 2006 when she couldn’t remember my name (yet I was still familiar), to the most recent time I saw her, when there was no familiarity, no flicker of recognition; I was a total stranger. The hardest thing about the disease is that truly, she has been gone for many years, but her body remained. I have seen how hard it is for the families of my patients with Alzheimer’s, but even more, I have been the family of those with Alzheimer’s. It’s personal. I hope I don’t have to go through it with either of my parents. I wish we had a cure, now.
I am brokenhearted about losing both grandparents so soon, but I am trying to keep it in perspective. They are together now! That’s happy. And they’re both at peace- and Grandma has her mind back now. And that’s really happy!
I know they say life goes on, but I’m not sure I’m ready for the next chapter in my life- the one where I’m not a granddaughter anymore. The one where I guess I move on to become eventually the mom, and my parents would become the grandparents (totally not anytime soon-sorry, mom). It’s just an unsettling feeling to watch an entire chapter of my life come to a close with the passing of both of my grandparents. I do still have one grandmother, but it’s becoming quite obvious that I’m getting older, except I feel the same as I did on those Sunday afternoons after church when we’d all wind up at Grandma and Grandpa’s house for hamburgers and hot dogs and playing with my cousins (those are also some of my most cherished memories). I still have a picture hanging in my house with two of my cousins, Kaitlin and Jamie; we were up at Grandma and Grandpa’s house playing dress-up with my aunt’s old dresses. That’s absolutely one of my favorite childhood memories.
I suppose there is one other good thing: now Grandma and Grandpa are in heaven for a much needed catch up with Jamie and Megan, and part of me is jealous- as weird as that sounds- because I just have missed Jamie over the years so very much, and I never knew Megan, and because Grandma has been “gone” for years, and Grandpa had finally gotten out of his own way and able to show all his love by the end of his life. I would love to just sit and chat with all of them, just to catch up, to laugh, to cry, and to ask advice (I just know Jamie would have had some great advice for how to deal with all these vile Northern people- I will always, always admire the incredible gumption that girl had).
Life has some weird poetry, does it not? Both Jamie and Megan were born on the same day. And Grandma and Grandpa passed away within the same month. I don’t know if it means anything more than a coincidence, but it seems poetic that they are now all together. <3