I've been thinking about my grandmother a lot lately. She passed away three years ago this month. She was just shy of her 90th birthday. She was such an amazing woman in my eyes. Like most women of her era she went through many changes in her life.
When I was 11 my grandfather had a massive stroke and she cared for him for almost two years before he finally passed away. Most of that time she cared for him at home. There wasn't much left of him during that time. He couldn't really communicate or do anything for himself. She never talked much about it to me, even after when I was an adult.
I grew up on a large farm. My parents owned the original farm house and my grandparents built a house farther back from the main road. They also built a house for my great grandfather, which my brothers family now lives in. My uncle built a house on the land around that time too. More recently my cousin built a house on the farm as well.
I was always close to Grandma, I really can't remember a time when I wasn't. In many ways I was closer to her than I was with my own mother, especially after my grandfather died. I was always closer to Grandma than my mother was. For some reason I never really understood my mother never had much patience for her own mother. Of course now, after her death my mother feels great guilt because of this. But, that's another post.
It was tough moving from Michigan to Pennsylvania when I married Amazing Daddy. I hadn't lived on the farm in years, but I'd never been more than two hours away, so I could visit any time. Although I missed my parents, it was Grandma that I missed the most. She came to visit us several times. I was always so proud of her. My dad would take her to the airport and get her on the plane and then I would be there to pick her up when she got off the jetway. That was a big deal for her, taking that trip by herself. I remember how she called me the night before the first trip to make sure she could wear tennis shoes (sneakers in this part of the US) on the plane. Any one remember the time when you used to dress up to travel?
I think Grandma was more excited than anyone else about us adopting. She was so happy when I met Amazing Daddy and brought him in to the family as if he was her own grandson. Then when we couldn't get pregnant she mourned with us. And when we first met TB and sent home pictures she had them all over her house. You'd think TB was her first great grandchild, but in fact, she already had seven, six of whom lived on the farm with her. She couldn't wait to meet TB, and spent hours struggling to knit him a blanket, with poor eye sight and hands that constantly shook.
Grandma died the same day we were in court adopting TB. Just four hours before we stood before the judge in Moscow, Grandma was in a hospital bed in Lansing, MI being removed from life support. She had a massive stroke in her brain stem just hours before.
The first call we had with my parents (who were at our house pet sitting while we were in Moscow, 12 hours drive away from Grandma) should have been the most joyous call I ever had with them. Instead they had to tell us that Grandma was gone. I knew something was wrong when I was talking with them, and then they asked to speak to AD. When he got on the phone Mom asked if I was off the line (not knowing we had two phones in the room), as soon as I heard that I knew something was terribly wrong. My first words were "what's wrong, is it grandma?" How is it possible I knew?
How is it possible she would never get to meet TB? How could she die half a world away from me? I had always promised that I would be there for her if something like that happened. I always had before, and when I moved I promised that no matter what I'd get back for her if she needed me.
My family assures me that it all happened instantly and she never knew.
The happiest day of my life, was also the saddest.
Her funeral took place while we were still in Moscow. I never said goodbye. For some reason, three years later it is hitting me harder than ever.
In some ways I think it was easier not having to go through a funeral and all the mess associated. I will always remember Grandma well and whole. But damn I miss her. And it hits me at the oddest times.
It turns out the blanket she made for TB is his favorite. G.G.'s blanket. G.G.'s blanket makes everything better. We showed him her picture a couple times when he was first starting to talk. He has been able to point her out in any picture ever since then. He talks about her like he knows her.
Is it possible he really does?