Friday, February 23, 2007

Here's to Grandma

Jen put up a thoughtful and insightful post on her blog, which encouraged me to post about what has been on my mind lately (although, I'm certain, my thoughts will not be nearly as well written). Our grandma is quite sick and possibly on the verge of passing away. I am sad, and don't want to lose her, but she's been in so much pain that I think she should feel free to go, if she wants to. Fight if you want to fight, Grandma, hang on if you want to, but if you're tired, go on. I will miss her, terribly, but I hate her being in so much pain. Her quality of life has been much-reduced lately, and now it has only gotten worse. She can't swallow, so she has to have a feeding tube. She has stress fractures all over her body. The few moments that she is awake she just moans in pain. My other grandmother said the other day, "Maybe she just needs to go on and be with the Lord". Amen, grandma, amen.

The other morning, when dear Michael Clark and I were discussing 'Garp', I noted that the two John Irving books I have read thus far, his characters endure these enormous, life-shattering tragedies, but Mr. Irving may only dedicate a paragraph or so to the actual event, and then the rest of his book to people's reaction to that tragedy. Mike pointed out that is actually true of real life; that the actual tragedy or life shattering event can take mere moments, but the ripple effect can be far reaching through time (those are not his actual words, those are my words for his words; dear Mike is far more articulate and eloquent than I, both in the spoken and written word). That is so true. My mother's death, for example. There was the short hospital stay, the worsening health, and the morning to prepare ("someone call Dad's doctor and get a prescription for his nerves"), and then she was gone. In a moment. She was there, she was gone. Everything after that was just reaction. I remember feeling, as I drove home from the hospital, is this it? Is this all that there is? Someone just died, my mother just died, and that's it? And after her funeral, when life started picking back up again, it felt so wrong. How can I go to work? My mother is dead! How can I go buy ice cream! Shop for shoes! I was outraged and righteously indignant at the idea of life continuing on without my mother in it. But it did. I adjusted; I moved on, but in a guilty way, constantly feeling that there was something inappropriate about moving on.

Grandma leaves behind a legacy of love. Of care, of good deed and action. I remember biscuits for breakfast at her house, when mom was in the hospital. I remember her taking care of me when I was sick in that way only a grandma can, the cooling, comforting hand to the fevered brow. She was always on my side, always taking care, always supporting, loving, celebrating each accomplishment. She was feisty, and determined. I will fondly remember grandma for one recent exchange. A little background: when Jen, Teresa and I were in girl scouts, grandma always got stuck sewing our patches onto our uniforms. I remember her doing this without complaint, and always very proud of what we had earned. Life has circled and now Jacelyn is a girl scout, only I am the one doing the sewing now. I was visiting with her one afternoon and mentioned how hard it is to sew those patches on, and she snorted and said, "Tell me how hard it is!". I laughed, she laughed, and I felt the significance of the moment, literally spanning generations. Cool.

So here's to you, Grandma Tucker. I love you and will never, ever forget you. Anytime I hear, utter, or read the phrase "Damn Yankee" I will think of you fondly. I will try to love the way you loved me, and all of us. I will try and do for others the way you did for us. I will remember how your love was unconditional, and how rarely you were angry or raised your voice. I will remember you and honor you by trying to be more like you. I love you.

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