Saying goodbye

We’ve had beyond our share of loss in 2014.  First it was my friend’s son. Next, a classmate. Then, last weekend, we said goodbye to my grandmother.

My grandma wasn’t the warm & fuzzy, climb on her lap and she’ll tell you a bedtime story, kind of woman.

She was stubborn. And she was strong.

She survived 40 years living with an abusive alcoholic. She didn’t survive cancer twice, she beat it five times.

She drove a silver pick-up until she was 94 when she broke her hip. Two months later she was climbing a ladder hanging decorations because “they taught me how to climb stairs in therapy.”

While in hospice she called the whole family together. She hadn’t eaten or barely drank in 5 days. We held her arthritic hands, cried, and said our goodbyes. I waited for the call that she died during the night.

Instead, she woke the next morning asking “where the hell is my breakfast.”

grandmaA week later she was kicked out of hospice. A month later she was back in her own apartment.

Did I mention stubborn?

By September doctors were mystified, and we wondered if she’d actually make it to another Christmas. But infections and set-backs began to take their toll. Her 95 lb. frame quickly dropped to little more than a skeletal shell, which still held remarkable strength.

My grandmother was a private woman. She didn’t have many friends, and she certainly outlived those she did have.

I’m grateful that she did open up one with me one afternoon to share a bit of herself: why she’d stayed with my grandfather, checking off everything on her “bucket list,” traveling the world, and spending two happy years with the love she met at 80 years old before he died.

The rest of the stories…well…those she took with her.

grandmaShe loved to fish, she loved baseball, she made the best chicken noodle soup (one of my kids even asked her for as a Christmas present), and she could take your money 10 different ways playing poker.

I like to believe she’s somewhere now playing a hand of cards with my dad. More likely, though, she’s looking for damn hot cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll. I don’t doubt you’ll find it, Wilma Brown.

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