grandparents

Georgia On My Mind

​Last time you were here, I wrote about my grandparents – in fact, I waxed eloquent about the probability of my grandfather passing away suddenly. But friends, the unexpected happened. My Grandma Georgia left us instead. It started with pneumonia; she expressed pain in her chest. Turns out her lung was actually rubbing against the inside of her chest cavity. This led to a stay at the hospital. During this time, my mother and her brothers decided to 1. get in-home health care (because really, Grandpa probably shouldn’t operate a microwave) and 2. my mom would go out to help care for them. Mom spent about two weeks out with her parents and the new healthcare person. She was about two days from coming home; Grandma was improving at home and the healthcare worker was fantastic, when Grandma had a massive stroke. She was unconscious for about two days and we weren’t sure she would wake up. Then she did wake up, but the stroke had destroyed the parts of her brain that allowed her to speak and move. Additionally, she couldn’t swallow properly and was running the risk of choking on anything and everything. In order to survive, she would have had to had a permanent feeding tube. She was already on a temporary tube to see if she, by some miracle, would start to recover. She did not and the family knew that she did not wish to be sustained in such a fashion. So, my family brought her home where she was kept comfortable until she passed away peacefully on September 16.

I was able to go to her funeral services and celebration of life with my husband, mother, and brother. It was good to see everyone and to have the time to remember her and be sad that she is gone. I still look at pictures and find myself saying, how can she be gone? How is possible that someone that was so important to all of us left before we were ready? But, when would anyone ever be ready to have to say goodbye to someone they love? What I can say about my Grandma is that she passed at home surrounded by people she loved and that she appeared to be ready to go. Georgia was a great grandmother and I will love and miss her always. She will go with me wherever I go and I will not forget her. I will carry her in my heart with my Grandpa Bob and someday I’ll see her again.

Thank you for reading this and remembering her with me. I am finding that words fail me when I think about an important person passing. So, raise a glass for my Georgia when you get the chance and remember that you’re loved. ‘Cause if words won’t work, I can tell you my feelings, and Grandma always made me feel loved.

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Family Drama

I’ve been having lots of thoughts lately. Thoughts about writing, about fitness, about family; really, all about life. That’s a bit of an asinine statement, when is anyone not thinking about life? But I’ve been thinking about writing them down; so here I am, back to my neglected blog.  I have a couple of things percolating in my head, but for now, I’d like to start one of my family thoughts.

I have been incredibly lucky (blessed, fortunate, fortuitous, charmed) to have grown up with all four of my grandparents. It wasn’t until I turned 23 that I lost my grandfather on my father’s side. Twenty-three. I had friends growing up who never knew their grandparents, they’d already passed away while my friend was too young to remember them. I’m almost thirty now, and I still have three surviving grandparents. That’s pretty amazing. So, what I’m about to tell you next, I feel like I should caveat first.

1. I love and respect my grandparents a great deal.
2. I, in no way, want you to think that I take any ailments on my grandparents’ part lightly.
3. This is how I cope with stuff; I laugh about it. Cause, you know, it could be worse.

I recently got to spend some time with my mother’s parents while I did a series of meetings and stuff for my job in Washington. It was great to see them and spend time with them, as well as the rest of my family that I don’t get to see very often because we live on opposite sides of the country. My grandmother is a dynamo of a lady who ignores her intolerance to gluten at every chance she gets and refuses to let anyone do anything for her. My grandfather is a smart, stubborn cuss who has recently started showing signs of Alzheimer’s and has had a run of weird health problems. They are both starting to slow down quite a bit and each has a plethora of health issues. My grandparents have what I like to think of as a “traditional” relationship: he was the family provider and she ran the household and took care of my mother and her two brothers. That tenet of their relationship is still in place, Grandma takes care of Grandpa and Grandpa is himself. This is a gross oversimplification of their relationship, so take that as you will. They’ve been married for 60+ years, they are my marriage heroes.

So here I am, at my grandparents for the second time in a year, big win there, and my grandma sits me down and she says, “Lindsey, I would like you to look around the house, and if you see something you like, we’ll put your name on it.” Let’s take a closer look at this situation. In fact, let’s just take my interpretation of her words and put them to paper: “Dearest grandchild who I do not see very often, I would like you to look around at our family heirlooms and antiques and let me know which ones you want to have responsibility of forever upon my death because of family guilt.” That’s right, Grandma is taking care of business and wants to me to peruse their house like a vulture in the case of their imminent demise so she can put my name on a china cabinet.

Hard pass

I return home. Maybe two weeks later, I get a call from my mother. Grandpa is in the hospital because his chest has been hurting and he is pretty under the weather. Mom informs me that he’s been in the hospital for the past two days, but her mother was just letting her know that day. (My family rocks at communication.) More tests were coming and they would have more information the next day, but the doctors had expressed concern about Grandpa’s liver and kidney functions. They hinted to Grandma that those organs might not be functioning as they should. Please take a moment to put yourself in my shoes. I felt that I was basically hearing that my Grandfather’s body was shutting down. I started to prepare myself. I thought about taking time off work and flying out to see them before everything went sideways. I thought about the cost of flights and how my brother would not be able to afford the flight. I spoke to my husband about covering that cost for my brother because between the two of us, we’re doing OK and family is important and getting Ryan out to Washington was important. The test results from the next day would let us know the true severity of the situation. Mom would call me once she knew what was what and I would have to wait for her call.

So I waited. And I waited. And I finally called Mom. And Mom says to me, “I didn’t call because I’m a bad person. Your grandfather is being released today. The chest pain was a pulled muscle.”

Whut.

Whut.

The conversation continued:

“What do you mean a pulled muscle?” I said.
“That is the pain in his chest, he pulled a muscle,” said Mom.
“What about his kidney and liver function?” I asked.
“Apparently no longer a concern. I don’t know what happened to that,” said Mom.
“…Mom…what was he doing that he pulled a muscle? The only heavy lifting he does is bringing a spoon from his plate to his lips!” I exclaimed.
“I know,” said Mom with a sigh. And we go on from there.

True story. This happened. In one weekend, I went from believing my Grandfather was on his death bed to finding out he had a pulled muscle in his chest. I’m super happy that the death bed part is not true, but good Lord. Grandpa has always been something of a drama queen and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called with reports of an ailment that might do him and then the next thing I know, he’s right as rain. I know it’s really tough for him, but I am also convinced, without a doubt, that most men are big babies. In fact, that might be my next post – the stereotype of women being drama queens and why I think it’s complete and utter bullshit. And just so you know, when Mom first called me about this hospital visit, I DID ask, “Mom, how concerned are we?” I was trying to gauge how much time I need to put into finding a flight out to Washington, how upset I needed to let myself be. That’s when she told me she would know more tomorrow. PULLED MUSCLE.

Alright then.

Family, you guys. Gotta love ’em.
Could be worse.

 

How Things Change

I find it strange how quickly things will change. Wednesday, I was happy as the proverbial clam. I received a pair of rain boots from my Grandparents, a late birthday present. I called my Grandmother to thank her. She acted strange on the phone and I asked her what was wrong. She told me that she would have my father call me later. I knew then that something was wrong with my Grandfather, who hadn’t been truly well in some time.

As it turns out, I called my Grandmother minutes after my Grandpa passed away. To thank her for boots. He went very quickly. He’d briefly been at the hospital in the morning, with my Grandma and Dad. Grandma said that they hadn’t been home for very long when he passed. I am grateful that it was short. It would have been harder on my Grandma if he had been stuck, waiting for something to happen.

I went home on Friday (thus my absence from the blogging world) and the funeral was on Saturday, along with the visitation beforehand. I spoke a few words about my Grandpa at the funeral and managed to get through it fairly well. I was really glad to be there for my Grandma. It is going to be most rough on her. They were married for 58 years. I hope I can pull that off one day.

My dad is part of the volunteer fire department in the town where they all live. The other firemen, in support for my dad and grandmother, decided that Grandpa needed two fire engines to escort us to the cemetery, and two more engines to have traffic stopped on Main Street.


Two engines held the flag aloft while another two engines provided us with an escort to the cemetery.

Overall, I rate it as an 8 out of 10 on the bizarre scale. I have not had to deal with someone dying (that I have been rather close to) in my entire 24 years. It’s been strange.

So, the life lesson for this post goes as such (and is a little more serious): Try not to take things for granted. Sometimes things change faster than you thought they could. Also, when you call someone, you should start a conversation out with “How are things?” or “How are you?” instead of, “Thanks for the boots!” in case someone has just passed away.

I suspect my next post will be more cheerful. Fingers crossed for that, cheers.