One of the oddest things about death is that there’s no way to reach that person by their usual phone number. We can call people in Antarctica, in space, in Tehran, on the toilet, or flying through the air. We can’t call people on the phone after they are passed on, however. It’s just another unfortunate, gut-wrenching reality when it comes to death. The feeling of being apart when they aren’t here, that used to be resolved through phoning, just wasn’t solved by Bell and probably never will be by anyone else.
My Grandma, who was 93, passed away today after a difficult week for her. I visited her yesterday, after medical people helped to stabilize her, and she was able to have simple conversations. She had trouble eating yesterday, was literally tired of being old and said as much with, “I’m too old for this.” Her body agreed with her, the following day. She was expertly cared for, and as comfortable as possible in her final years.
Life isn’t easy not being able to see very much, and she had to give up playing card games on the computer, and emailing people (which she started doing in the mid-90s on a Compaq 8086 then IBM 486 my Dad and I helped set up for her and Grandpa). Macular degeneration can take a hike, by the way. She had to move out of her house many years ago, and was getting by at the lodge in Lafleche for a while, walking downtown to get her mail even. This past year she’d had some small strokes and lost some of her short term memory, and had to move to the Foyer in Gravelbourg. Her mother had lived there for a time in the early 1970s.
I’m thinking about a lot right now, obviously. There’s a lot to consider. While I’m sad, I’m also trying to remember that my Grandma had a good, long life that can be celebrated, with plenty of family to remember her fondly. My Grandpa’s death was sudden and not really expected, and this death is sort of the exact opposite. There’s still a numb feeling, having heard the news, and knowing it will hurt as I contemplate everything.
Stories she’s told me stick out right now, and I feel I have to write them down again so I won’t lose them. Like how her parents met (re)hanging laundry; our family’s connection to Napoleon; how her older siblings were told she blew in on the cold February wind. Or how I may have had a different name if she hadn’t been in Africa while I was born, since I was born 100 years after her father’s birthday. She’d have suggested my parents choose my Great-Grandfather’s name, although my Mum wasn’t too keen on that option it turned out anyway.
So now I just have memories of my Grandma. How she enjoyed gardening; our trips to the casino; her vegetable barley soup; how she liked to provide ice cream for her grand kids, and how I got to return the favour by delivering some to her in the Foyer in August. She had a life well lived so it’s better to celebrate her long, fulfilled life than to mourn her death.