….on loss of an icon in my own life. (This time it’s a real person and not another object in my house.)
For starters, I’ll admit that I’m not a fan of talking on the phone. I know that’s odd considering how much I talk….and talk and talk and talk. I’ve even gotten to the point of letting the voicemail pick up most of the time. But when my mom calls early in the morning – I know that’s a call I need to answer and it’s probably not gonna be the greatest of news.
My great – grandmother passed away last night at the age of 104. Yep, 104. I’m a bit sad and a little teary. I’m still a little a little stunned that she really did pass away. She was supposed to live forever. I really expected my mother to tell me someone else passed away.
I saw her last earlier this year in the nursing home, and she was confused, barely awake and I’m not sure she even knew who I was. That was on her last birthday and it wasn’t easy seeing her in that condition.
After working on an ambulance in West Texas, I’ve come to despise everything about nursing homes. The smell, the look, the feeling, the lighting, the people….everything. It’s a building that houses death. People laying in beds, staring blankly at tvs, talking incoherently to anyone or no one listening, that have been long forgotten by family. But, in her case, she wasn’t forgotten. She was still cared for, visited, loved, missed…..and she was in a much better situation in the nursing home where they could make sure she ate regularly, bathed regularly and would be safe.
From my childhood, of her and her house, I remember……
· playing with little match box cars and trucks in the hallway which was soooo long.
· pulling out the laundry basket that was falling apart and full of toys that were for little kids – but I played with them anyway.
· the crib in one of bedrooms that I slept in, even when I was waaaaay too big to be in a crib.
· the Alfred Hitchcock books on her shelves that I wanted to read, but wasn’t brave enough to because my mom said they were scary.
· playing on her piano and wishing I could play as good as my mother and brother.
· always getting to eating cereal that had sugar as one of the first three ingredients….and sometimes getting to eat donuts too. (We rarely had that at home.)
· playing yahtzee, 5,000, skip-bo, uno and countless other games for hours and hours….she’d rarely say no to game of anything at her kitchen table.
· the antique coffee making stove top contraption that she used every day.
· She always cooked, didn’t have a computer, bicycles, didn’t live near kids, she only went to the grocery store once a week, shopped waaaay too much (obsessively) from the home shopping networks, didn’t have swing sets, movies to watch or anything to make a kid want to go there to visit.
· Garage sales and flea markets were special treats and fun trips.
· But we did go visit.
In fact, my mother took us there two-three times a year, for a couple of weeks during the summer, Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years, 4th of July…..lots. Looking back, I loved it and miss those times in my life.
It’s been hard to realize that she’s not going to be in that house ever again to cook a table full of food. I’ll never sit and play uno with her again. I’ll never climb the post on her front porch again. I’ll never sit in her car parked on the highest hill in town and watch the fireworks. I’ll never hear that chuckle again. But, she was moved into the nursing home when she was 96, so I’ve had time to adjust and realize that that era in my life is no longer. I will, however, always regret not visiting waaay more often as an adult.
But worse, I’m scared of the future….of the time when others follow her path: my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins….ugh…and my own parents.
I’ve gone through life not losing a whole lot of people close to me.
The ones I’m petrified of losing would be my husband, my kids…I’ve always imagined they will outlive me. (Yes, my husband is a little older than me, but he is waaay healthier and safer. There’s no way I’ll outlive him.)
Oddly, even with my background, the words dying, died, dead and death are words that I just can’t bring myself to using when it’s someone I know and love.