She was always Grandma to me. My dad's mother was Nana, my mom's mom was Grandma.
As an adult it got more complicated. Once Nathan was born, once my mom got sick, once I was having to talk to my aunts more about big care decisions...it was harder to know what to call her...Great-grandma, your mom, my grandmother, or simply, Fran.
But to me, she'll always be Grandma.
I'm lucky to have many, many wonderful memories from a lifetime with my grandmother...not that many people get to still have a living grandmother when they're 40. Some of my favorites though are from just the past few years, when I got to watch with delight as she just doted on Nathan.
As hard and as painful as so much of the past few years have been, I feel incredibly fortunate to have spent months worth of really quality time with four generations of my family before it was too late.
|Loss is always hard, but memories do matter and I have lots of those to hold on to, along with a ridiculous number of photos and regretably low quality video.|
When the end came, at the end of June, it felt like a release to me. Even two years ago, before the stroke that left this independent woman so reliant on other people, she told me that she felt ready. That she didn't feel fearful of what came next. I feel some regret that I couldn't have known her better, that I couldn't have known her as a young woman and what her dreams and hopes had been. That we'll never know all the details of her complicated early life and the influences and pressures that led her to reinvent herself and rewrite her own personal history along the way. I'm sorrowful that we couldn't have had her in our lives longer and known her better, but I suppose all the great performers know that it's best to leave them wanting more.
I'm not sure really how much my mom understands at this point. It seemed like it would be incredibly disruptive and confusing to take her to Columbus for the funeral, so that decision was an easy one. Over the last year she has very occasionally asked, 'how's mom?', so I have been giving her updates now and again, but in recent months she's often reacted with surprise, as if she'd been under the impression that her mother was already gone.
When I got back to Missouri, it was a lovely, mild summer day, so we went outside to sit in the nursing home's courtyard and I told her that her mom had passed away and described the funeral to her. She nodded occasionally, but otherwise didn't react very much. She didn't seem at all upset and just sat with me quietly until one of the activities directors came by and offered her some chocolate chip cookies. Now THAT got a reaction in the form of a big smile. Further proof I've decided, that chocolate really does cure all.
Time is a funny thing. We really are alive for such a blink of an eye and so many of our experiences are simply repetitions of those already lived by our elders. Just a blink ago, my grandmother was raising toddlers and my mother was doing somersaults in the grass. In a blink or two more, Nathan will be preoccupied with his own children and saying goodbye to me. I guess the best I can hope for is that I can leave him wanting more.