This was a difficult week. We lost our Grandma. Technically, she was my husband’s grandma, but as she did with everyone who joined the family, she quickly made it clear that she was my grandma too. And she was definitely my daughters’ Great Grandma and they were so blessed to have her in their lives for so long.
After my husband and I were married and we talked about having kids, we decided that our first daughter would be named after her. And she was so proud of that and we were happy to honor her in that way. We ended up having twin girls and we named them after all of their great grandmothers who luckily were still with us at the time.
Fast forward about two years, I had decided to go to nursing school and by the luck of the draw, was admitted right away (they had a lottery system at the time since they had high demand for it). My husband was working night shift and we lived in a little duplex apartment and it was going to be tough doing everything and caring for two little girls.
She and Grandpa were of course retired and she volunteered to help us out with childcare as much as she could. And oh boy, did she! She would take the girls to her house and they would have so much fun. Their earliest memories were of walks with her in the neighborhood. She would pull them in their wagon and stop and collect leaves to bring home and play games with them. Grandpa loved to feed the ducks at the river and they would do that too. Grandma would never come without food for us. She would make soup or hot dish and rolls and drop it off so I wouldn’t have to worry about cooking supper.
Those years with Grandma helped forge a relationship with her that my daughters continued well into adulthood. After Grandpa died, they would visit her and share the latest news of their lives and help her by bringing her to appointments or out to lunch. She had her favorites like Pizza Hut and Taco Johns and she would treat whoever did the driving.
Grandma lived on her own until she was 94 and then moved into a nursing home where she quickly became very popular with staff. She was involved in all the activities and loved to tell us about her wins at Bingo when we would go to see her. Her mind was pretty sharp until this past year and she would ask about what we were doing and tell us stories of her younger years. We were amazed at the memories she would bring up from so long ago. And she was still trying to give us food. Every time we visited, she would have us take some chocolates out of her stash no matter how much we protested that she should keep them.
The last year during the nastiness-that-should-not-be-named was very difficult for Grandma along with all the other residents of course. No visits from family except through a closed window and phone calls were not cutting it. She was required to stay in her room at times with no interaction with other people except the staff that cared for her. Her connection to her family was still there but frustratingly difficult to maintain as things progressed. We could see the toll this was taking on her as she became visibly more depressed and talked about how boring it was, but it was more than just boredom. As this year started, we were able to finally go inside to see her and it was clear that her mind was not as clear as it used to be.
Last week, Grandma’s body was failing her and it became clear that she was ready to move on. It was heartbreaking to know she was leaving this earth but comforting to know she would be with Grandpa again. So she left us early in the morning on July 1st.
As we prepare to say goodbye as a family, I just keep remembering her smile and the many ways she loved us all. And we loved her right back.