My grandma left this earth on March 14, 2009. I have been digesting the reality of the situation over the last nine days. Even after the funeral, I still feel like it is all a bad dream.
Grandma was a strong, stubborn woman who worked hard on the family farm her entire life. She was incredibly thrifty and never wasted a thing. She absolutely loved her grandchildren and would always prepare us yummy deserts when we went over for visits.
Grandma had been battling lung cancer for a year and a half. Last May, we were reassured that she was cancer free. Time passed and she seemed totally healthy. At Christmas, she came over for dinner and her personality was off. I remember telling my mother, “Grandma sure was acting weird tonight.” A couple days later she would complain of an extreme headache. In early January, they did a MRI and discovered that the cancer had moved to her brain.
My brother and I, who have both been at university over six hours away since Christmas, have not been able to be there as she fought for her life. We traveled four hours on Valentine’s Day to visit her when she was in the hospital. She was skinny, pale, and looked really tired but she had the energy to talk to us and even poked fun at Grandpa, calling him “old man” when he was helping her eat. And boy did she eat. I’ve never seen someone eat their hospital food so steadily. It took her over an hour, but she finished off everything they brought her.
Looking back at the situation, I remember being optimistic and sure that she would make it through. We hugged her goodbye and promised to see her when we came home for Spring Break. Over the next month, my mother kept me updated, telling me that she was getting worse, not better. I stayed optimistic, but began to prepare myself. Every time my parents would call, I would cringe inside. I was afraid they were going to give me bad news.
They moved her to the nursing home on March 11. She no longer had an IV and wasn’t waking up to eat or drink. At that point, Clay and I realized we needed to get home. We skipped class the Friday before Spring Break. I traveled to the hospital with all five of my siblings, afraid of what I would see.
She looked so much worse. Her mouth was hanging open and her breathing was labored. She slept for the first three hours we were there. Finally, she opened her eyes for a couple seconds. We gathered around her, telling her how much we loved her. Instead of focusing on us, she looked at the door. I’m not sure she even realized that we were there.
She passed away late Saturday afternoon. I was absolutely relieved to know that she was no longer in pain, but my heart has been breaking ever since.
My grandparents were married for forty-seven years. In that time, they spent less than thirty nights apart. They worked together on the family farm and raised three amazing children. I never once witnessed them fight. I cannot imagine Grandpa without Grandma. He’s holding up, but I know that this is so much harder for him then me. I only pray that he will lean on friends and family for support in the next weeks and months.
This picture was taken at Christmas about a week before we found about the brain cancer.
Hold your loved ones close to you tonight… You never know when they might be gone.