My grandmother died this morning. It was something we were all expecting. She had a stroke during my grandfather's funeral, and she really wasn't the same since. Combined with the mobility problems she had beforehand, her quality of life hasn't been very good in quite some time. I feel guilty I haven't spent more time with her over the last few years--especially when I was still living back home. But it was really difficult to accept the difference between the woman there and the woman I knew. Other family members stayed closer--my uncle, my mother, and my cousin, especially--and for this, they deserve all the credit in the world.
I saw her, briefly, during my last trip back home, and I'll admit it was in part because of my mother's insistence. Now, of course, I'm really glad she pushed me to do it. I didn't really get a chance to say goodbye, but she knew who I was and was happy I was there, so I'm glad I could do that much. Shortly after that, my mother sent word grandma had stopped eating on her own, and I think we all felt it wouldn't be long after that.
My grandfather had passed away in a similar fashion: a long, drawn out deterioration, so that the end wasn't sudden, but seemed almost like a natural progression. The big difference, and what's really eating me right now is that we knew right beforehand, and the family was more or less together. This time... we knew it was coming, but not how close it was. My brother was off on a biking trip, my parents are in Vancouver at a wedding, and I'm... well, I'm here. Even my uncle who was on call didn't make it in time. My grandmother died alone. I don't entirely mean that; there was a compassionate care staff on hand, and our thoughts and prayers were with her. But I wish some of the family had been there. I wish I had been there. And I wish I was there now. But I'm out east now, and I've still got these two presentations to write, and classes to attend, and none of that is going to stop and wait for me to catch up.
Later, maybe, I'll do a post about how my grandmother meant to me, and how much she means to me. But for now... I've got work to do.
"About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on."
"Life's what happens when you're busy doing other things."
Sympathies and best wishes to you and your family, Person.
I've always loved this poem, and found it strangely comforting.
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