I've had allergies this week like I've never experienced before. The kind that make you want to crawl in a hole and die. This afternoon, when I was ready to do just that, my mom called to say it may be time to come say goodbye to Grandma. Her health took a sudden turn for the worst this last week and it shocking to see the life drained from her now pale and sunken face and her walker traded in for a wheelchair. Mercifully, the allergy meds kicked in about the same time as the phone call, and Steve and I rushed down to the assisted living to spend sometime with Grandma.
So, tonight's original line up of a Webelos Hike, a Girl Scout Cookie Party, a cousin's baptism, and a Teen Writer's Conference has been preempted by what's most on mind. Memories with my Grandma.
I'm the oldest grandchild on my mother's side and have always had a very close and special relationship with my Grandparents. As we sat with Grandma this evening, and I rubbed her feet and legs to relieve some of the pain she was feeling, it reminded me of all of the times she rubbed my back when I was little. Every trip to San Diego I would ask to sleep on the little blue couch in my Grandparents' bedroom. In the morning, when it was still dark, I would climb into bed with Grandma and we'd exchange back rubs. We loved to write secret messages on each other's backs and then try to guess what the other had written. Now that I have a daughter of my own that likes to climb in bed with me, before I'm ready to get up on the weekend, I realize that maybe it was an inconvenience for me to pounce on my Grandparents at 5:00 or 6:00 am. If it was, they never let on. My Grandparents always made me feel like the most special person in the world.
Because we never lived in the same state, saying goodbye to my Grandparents was always hard. Sometimes I'd hide in their car trying to steal away with them, or chase their car down the street as far as I could run. Occasionally I got to fly to California and visit all by myself. Back in the pre-9/11 world, they would let my Grandma walk right on the plane with me and get me settled and say goodbye. Once, we were so wrapped up in our tears and goodbyes that the plane actually started taxiing down the runway before we realized what was happening! They had to turn around and roll stairs up to the plane for Grandma to disembark.
It was hard to see Grandma, who was once so vibrant and the center of everything in my world, hurting and ailing tonight. She smiled and perked up as each of my siblings arrived to visit. It's hard to know how long she still has. She may join Grandpa on the other side any day, or be with us still for months to come, but I do know that saying "goodbye" will always be hard.