Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Tragic Loss

Last night was a busy "before the holiday" kind of night. I was busy making a cheesecake, some jello salad and an appetizer. The counter was covered and dishes were everywhere. I enlisted my son's help to wrap up birthday gifts for my grandmother, whose birthday is today. He picked out the gift bags and coordinated tissue and wrapped up each item with love. Earlier in the afternoon, I wrote a blog post about Thanksgiving to be posted today and mentioned how thankful I was to have my grandmother.

During all this activity, I received a call from my mother just before 11 pm and I could immediately tell something was wrong when she said my name. The nursing home had called her to tell her to come right away. Then they called again to say my grandmother had already passed away. It seems her heart may have stopped. She passed away quickly.

About 14 months ago, she had a heart attack at home (she lived alone) and then was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. At her age (late 80's) she was not a candidate for any surgery to repair her heart. She was admitted to a nursing home when she was discharged from the hospital. In the past 14 months she had a rebirth of sorts. She made lots of friends and participated in all the activities. She made a best friend in another resident named Margaret who is a sweetheart. They played cards all the time and talked about drinking a beer together, although I don't think they ever did. Her group of friends were known as the "Lollipop Gang" at the nursing home for their routine of eating DumDum suckers during bingo each Sunday. She never wanted to miss any of the bingo games. We had photos of her smiling! It was a side of her we had not seen before. And we basked in it. The staff at the nursing home loved her and treated her wonderfully. She was determined to walk without a walker and she did. We were so happy to see her happy. There were times recently that she expressed a desire to leave and go back home, but I think she knew that would not happen as she could not live alone. I think she missed her house and neighbors.

When my paternal grandmother passed away many years ago, I had deep regret. Mostly that I had selfishly not spent enough time with her. I was younger then but that's no excuse. That pain stays with me to this day. And I learned a hard lesson from her passing. With my maternal grandmother I can honestly say that I have so many happy memories with her and she knew how much I really loved her. I have no regrets this time.

It is amazing how many tears can come out of one person. My eyes are so swollen and puffy and my head hurts. One of the things I wish I could change about myself is my depth of emotion. I am so emotional. I couldn't sleep and have been writing a eulogy in my head for hours so I thought I would get up and start typing away. When the pain is not so fresh, I will write more. I just had to get this off my chest.

Our Thanksgiving dinner is planned for 2 pm today but I don't know what we are doing yet. I think grandma would still want us to get together. I am just not sure we can handle it. I have not talked to anyone yet this morning.

When you are with your family today for Thanksgiving, hug them tight!
And give thanks that you have them. Don't have regrets for things unsaid and undone.

Love to you all.

Grandma, Mom, Me - October 2008


ChezChani said...

I'm so sorry Kim. I hope your have your Thanksgiving as planned, being around people you are close to will be therapeutic. I'm glad you have happy memories to help yout through this.

Kyfarmlife said...

Kim I'm SO sorry to hear this! i know how hard this is, in fact my post on TDay was grandma is hanging on day by day...prayers to you and your famil. I'm setting my blog to private so email me you email so I can add

dentedhalo said...

Oh Kim, I'm so sorry to hear of your grandmother's passing. I do hope you got to spend Thanksgiving with loved ones, I am sure she would have wanted that. About the tears and the emotions? Just let em out, however long it takes..I lost my grandma a few years ago at the holidays as well, and I've gotten really nostalgic about her at the holidays ever since. I'm here for you if you want to chat, need a shoulder to cry on...? I gotcha!

KimberlyRies said...

Thanks ladies for all the sweet words and support. Your emails mean a lot to me. I've learned that everyone has special stories about their grandmothers too.