Monday, January 21, 2008

My grandma

About eight years ago my grandmother (Dad's mom) was diagnosed with breast cancer and Alzheimer's at the same time. She had a double mastectomy for the cancer and was moved into an assisted living center for the Alzheimer's. About two years after that was the last time she recognized me.

This past Wednesday she slipped into unconsciousness and because she had signed a living will eight years ago, nothing was done to try to revive her. Oddly, she awoke in the middle of the night Thursday night and requested food. Her nurse took her to the dining room where a special meal was prepared for her and after eating a small amount of it she requested to go into the foyer to hear the piano. Someone was brought out to play for her and she sang Amazing Grace along with the piano, even though the piano was playing a completely different song. Shortly after that she asked to go back to her room. Within minutes she had slipped back into unconsciousness and at about 11 p.m. on Saturday night she died. It was peaceful and just as she would have liked it.

It's hard to put into words exactly what losing my grandma means to me. I feel like I lost her six years ago and the past few days have just been the final letting go process. It's strange how when someone dies your mind slips into the past and brings out things you thought you had forgotten. So many stories, so many memories.

As crazy as my family makes me I'm actually looking forward to getting together with them at the end of this week in order to bury my grandmother and remember her life. If I know my extended family, it's sure to be dramatic. Once the wine starts flowing they'll start arguing about this and that and those of us who are less crazy will sneak off to smoke cigarettes or something.

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