Thursday, December 10, 2015
When my grandfather died 2 years ago, my grandmother found herself alone for the first time in 75 years. She discovered that she did not like being alone, she couldn't bear it in fact. My parents and sister and I flew out to Wyoming for the funeral and my mom asked my grandmother to come back to Oregon and live with them. I was actually against the idea because I thought it would be very hard on my grandmother to leave all her friends and family and move far away. But she said yes and they packed up a few of her belongings and brought her home to Oregon.
My grandmother loved her life in Oregon. There is a big picture window off the dining room where my parents have a couple of bird feeders. My grandmother delighted in watching the birds and there is a couple of big fat squirrels that steal the bird food and she loved to watch them too. She loved how green everything in Oregon was and all the flowers. She always appreciated the little joys in life. She used to say, "It's a good life if you don't weaken!" I loved it when she said that and she said it often. She may have been the strongest person I've ever met. She loved God and loved life and was the kindest, sweetest person.
My grandmother was 97. She was blessed in that she wasn't sick, and she could still bathe herself and feed her self and get around on her own, although she did have a walker. She was a tiny woman, not quite 4 feet, (I suspect there was some dwarfism in our past since my great-grandmother was shorter that her.) She was always impeccably dressed with jewelry on and she had two wigs. One for daily wear and one for special occasions.
She was a hard worker and believed in "earning her keep." So my mother found things for her to do. She would do the dishes and empty the dishwasher. She loved to fold the clothes and no-one could fold a towel as perfectly as my grandma. Once I had brought our clothes over to wash while I visited and as I was folding them my grandma stood next to me with her walker and gave me a dirty look (extremely unusual!). Then I realized why and said, "Grandma! These are my clothes, I'm not horning in on your laundry duties" She laughed, and so did I. I teased her later about arm wrestling her for the dinner dishes. She folded the paper napkins for the dinner table and mom used to have her chop walnuts. One time I asked her if they are actually eating those walnuts or was mom just making busy work for her. She laughed and said that no, they eat the walnuts in their oatmeal.
My husband and I moved in with my parents after his sister committed suicide. We are only planning on staying through the winter because we have some work that needs to be done on the RV. So the five of us would have dinner together and it was nice. She had a pillow that she sat on at her place and it was a joy to be able to visit with her. I started doing the dinner dishes because we use a lot of pots and pans, but she still took care of the dishes from breakfast and lunch.
A couple of weeks ago, my mom came down to our bedroom to wake us up and tell us that the paramedics were there. Grandma had fallen out of bed and the EMT said they thought her heart was shutting down. They had to use a bag to carry my grandma down all the stairs to the stretcher in the driveway and take her to the hospital. She died that night.
My mother has taken it pretty hard and I'm glad that we were there so that the vacuum left by grandma's absence was not as severe as it might have been. She was a beautiful woman, inside and out. We had a nice funeral for her and then her body was shipped back to Wyoming where she will be laid to rest next to her husband. We will miss you grandma. I want to be like you when I grow up.