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.

7 thoughts on “

  1. Oh, Bryce, I’m so sorry. It sounds like she was very much at peace with it and I’m so glad she did get to meet Riley, but I know it must still be really hard for you. But like you said she really affected who you are and so in a way she will be helping give you guidance, you know?

  2. Bummer. Cancer sucks; I know everyone is all about how heart disease is the big bad killer, but my experience of watching my family die off is that cancer is right behind lung diseases for Top Sucky Way to Go.

    Try not to berate yourself, sugarpie. Funerals are for the living, you know, not the dead, so they can mourn in a group, and you saw her while she was sick but before the end. This isn’t much comfort, but that is what you owed her if anything – seeing her then.

    I had the strange experience with one of my grandmothers in that for 2 years she kept dropping by my dreams with information for me, and to advise me on my life. It was most strange – I remember telling her on her carport, “But, Grandma, you’re, you know, deceased, so we can’t really be having this conversation,” and she fixed me with her eyes seriously and chided, “Well, child, if you keep talking that way, I’m gonna leave.” Like, how rude could I be, reminding the dead of their condition? It sounds creepy, but it was actually comforting. I hope you get a visit from yours, to let you know she’s around in some fashion, if only in your head.

    I hope you got a chance to have a good cry and a drink or two if your religion allows. cheers! Here’s to your Grandma!

    • You’re right about funerals being for the living; it’s more for my remaining family that I would’ve wanted to go. But I realize now that I couldn’t have held it together enough to be of much comfort to any of them. I just feel a little alienated by my absence, and I hate that.

      I think the self-berating is basically inevitable, and in my case I think it’s fairly justified. I’m not sure she really understood how much I love her and how important she is to me. I don’t see how she could have, as seldom as I told her. I’m just very bad about keeping in touch with anyone.

      Maybe she did know; she had faith enough to believe it even when I didn’t demonstrate it enough. I hope so.

  3. My condolences, Bryce, and if it’s any comfort, it sounds like the influence she had in making you who you are today is quite a legacy. I hope I can say I had that great of an impact on someone.

  4. My deepest sympathy

    Dearest Bryce,

    I’m so sorry as I’ve neglected our friendship lately and haven’t been quite in touch with everything you had been going through. I’ve known you for a bit and I would have imagined that your grandmother is probably as proud of you as you are of her. I would have imagined that your greatest gift to her is seeing how happy you’ve been… (Riley, Laura, Winnie…) Smile often because every time you do, it’s another gift to her memories.