Thursday, May 22, 2008

Remembering the Glory Days

Sorry for the long intermission! Lots of things have happened since the last time I blogged. The most traumatic being the death of my grandmother.

It happened rather quickly. One day I was talking to my grandfather (Poppop) and he said that my grandmother (Mommom) wasn’t doing well, that she had a cough that just wouldn’t go away. I knew that in the past Mommom had had coughs that stuck around, so I thought that this would be the same. You know, the next time I talked to her that she would finally have kicked it and was feeling better…

Sometime later, I get an email from my dad saying that he was at the airport, waiting for his flight and that he would meet up with his brother at some point and that they were going to be with his parents, as Mommom was in the hospital. I knew that my uncle hadn’t been to visit for many years and that if he felt the need to go that it must be urgent.

I was really at a loss – I really wanted to be there. I adore Mommom. I have great memories of her love and quiet strength, when I was a kid and especially after my mother passed away. On the other hand, 3 of my kids were in school, the oldest having AP (Advance Placement) exams coming in just a couple of weeks, my youngest still at home and my husband in the midst of craziness at work. How could I just up and leave all my responsibilities at home?!

My dear, sweet husband. He never hesitated when I said that I wanted to be with Mommom and Poppop. Every reason I brought up about why I couldn’t leave, he would say, “Don’t worry about it. Go. I know this is important to you.”

He made my flight arrangements and I was able to get out the next day. When I arrived, Poppop, my uncles and my dad were taking shifts to make certain that Mommom was never alone. She was the same as always, ever the wonderful hostess and caregiver – always making sure that everyone was taken care of even while she was lying in a hospital bed with an oxygen mask.

She said I shouldn’t have come – that it was such a long way, but how could I have not? I wanted her to know how much she means to me. How I treasure the memories of my childhood that include her, how much I had needed her after my mother passed away, and when I struggled with kids and family life? She was always there for me, just a phone call away.

It was difficult being in the hospital, watching and waiting. I was told that several years ago, Mommom had been diagnosed with a lung condition and at the time was given a life expectancy of 4-5 years. Boy, did she stay true to form and outlive that prognosis! That was the reason she was in the hospital. Her lungs were beginning to fail her and there was no way to stop it, only to help her manage the pain.

As I sat in the hospital with my grandparents, I was able to witness the love they have. Sometimes she would reach out and Poppop would hold her hand and they would share a look, no words, but such emotion would pass over their faces in that glance. It was heartbreaking to know that they would soon be separated.

It was amazing when it was time for the funeral arrangements, for the time of friends and family to come share their condolences. So many people. Mommom had touched many lives with her acts of love and friendship. It was like a reunion! And the stories…so many people had these great memories to share. It was joyful to hear about the adventures of my daughter’s namesake as she was growing up, a young mother and a kind friend.

What a legacy she left behind! I feel so blessed that myself and my family are able to be a part of it.