My Grandma Betty died Wednesday morning. She’d had cancer, discovered at an advanced enough stage that she decided not to treat it at all. I really respect her for having the strength to make the decision. As much as I love her and wish I had more time with her, I know everyone is happier that she suffered as little as possible. And I’m not sure it would have given her much more time anyway.
I’d known for a few months. She’s always been reticent about health problems, preferring not to worry us. All along, she seemed as emotionally prepared for death as anyone could be. Knowing how she hated to worry her family, I wondered whether she was just putting on a brave face for us all. But when I spoke with her, and especially when I saw her in person, it was clear that she really was at peace with it. She was thankful for her life, and looking forward to heaven. She was always a strong person with strong faith.
I got to see her at Christmas, and I know it meant a lot to her to meet Riley, even though she was already basically confined to bed by that time. It was like a lot of visits in recent years: I felt like we never got into the real substance, we were just catching up on little daily details, and distracted by all the rest of the family. But this time it was probably just as well. I found it easier to keep from crying if I stuck to telling her about Riley and not focusing on the fact that it would, in all likelihood, be the last time I ever saw her.
If I can be called a nice person at all, I have Grandma to thank for teaching me by example. She never had an unkind word to say about anyone. She was always patient and supportive. I remember when I was little, she always treated me like a child in the good ways, like making me feel safe and loved, but she never patronized me or made me feel like my opinion was any less important than anyone else’s. I wish I could have her guidance through my own parenthood journey.
She spent her last days at home, surrounded by family, with hospice care managing the pain as best they could. The funeral is this afternoon, and here I am a thousand miles away. I feel pretty lousy about it, but there it is. Apparently everyone else in my family is there.
I’ve been giving myself a pretty good subconscious thrashing lately for not being a better grandson, and just feeling sad in general because home won’t ever be the same again. But I know that Grandma wanted us all to be happy. So I’m trying my best.