Note: I started this post on Veteran’s Day, but struggled with it.
I always think about Grandma when I see veteran’s memorials…
In her later life Grandma always sold poppies, until she couldn’t drive any longer (due to the diabetic ulcers mentioned in Carpe Diem).
She was a die-hard VFW Ladies Auxiliary member. She ran her local group with an iron hand from the secretary-treasurer position that she held for probably about 20 years. I still have several photo albums and a rules book somewhere in the garage. It’s hard to know what to do with them.
Within the VFW her particular cause was disabled veterans. She put on many a spaghetti dinner to raise money to help them.
I am a rather intense person. I like to focus in and do things from beginning to end, and I really like to have a final product. Elder care does not lead to that.
When I realized how much of my life was being there for people, I knew I needed to have something other than “fixing things” or I would either go insane, get very mean, or both. Also, it is very hard to live a depression-free life when anything you want to do is less important than a dog sniffing a light pole.
I decided that I was not going to wait for grandma to die to live my own life. I didn’t want to poison our relationship with that sense of waiting. I did a few things that I really think helped me.
You can’t ever do everything. Sometimes it is too easy to decide that at some future point you will have it all together then you can start doing stuff. Being in relationship with the elderly you learn to let go of that. Tomorrow won’t necessarily be better than today.
You have to learn to do what you can when you can, and take the joy in those things, not regret what you can’t do.
My grandmother passed away this year, the day after my 57th birthday. It is a rare gift to have a grandparent in your life for so long. I am going to do some posts this month trying to put some of my lessons from that gift into words, not my best thing.
Just after midnight here, at home it was about 9 am
yesterday, my grandmother left this world.
I should, perhaps, feel sad. But, so far, I feel thankful. Very few people get to my age with an intact grandmother. She sent me a happy birthday email the day before she died. At almost the same time, I sent her an email with these flowers:
I should, perhaps, feel guilt, because I wasn’t there for
her at the end. But, so far, I’ve been remembering happily our last few visits.
Before we left, I took her youngest great-grandchild to see her. Our last visit
was our regular Wednesday night: sharing a glass of wine and laughing together
as we watch British sit-coms. Our good-bye ritual is for me to put each of her
two dogs in her lap for some loving attention. So, she got to say goodbye to the
pups, even though we didn’t know it would be their last goodbye.
At some point I may have different feelings, you don’t lose someone you have known for 57 years all at once, you don’t really lose them at all in some ways, and being so far away I haven’t perceived the changes in my life landscape yet. But, so far, I am not feeling regrets because I wasn’t there last night. Just happiness that I spent as much time with her as I have over the course of our lives, and it was very good time.
I am going to miss her, but, boy, am I lucky to have had her in my life.