My last 2 grandparents died 30 days apart. And I'm forever grateful for this. My grandfather died on the last day of September. It was not quite unexpected, but he did go down really quickly at the end. Everyone thought he would outlive my grandmother. But I'm so glad it happened like it did. The universe has mysterious ways of working things out, especially in death. I went back to Delaware, where my entire family lives next to each other, to attend his funeral, and I decided to stay for 2 weeks to help my mom care for my grandmother, and to get some time with her.
My grandmother, or Mommom as we called her, was in hospice for months before this point. I was planning on coming home for Christmas to see her. It would've been too late. If my grandfather hadn't died, I wouldn't have seen her again. I was incredibly blessed to have this time with her.
I lived next to them when I lived in Delaware from when I was about 7 to 22. Literally next door. But we didn't see them as often as you would think. Sure, Mommom would babysit for us all the time, but we mostly played outside on the streets with the other kids. Our road was a dead end at the bay, so it was pretty safe. All the cars on the street knew us, most of them were friends of my grandparents or my mom.
Poppy was an old school parent, believing that providing for his family was the ideal of love for them. And Mommom showed her love through cooking and family gatherings, believing that time together was the most important thing. Some of my favorite memories of her are her schooling us in rummy. She didn't take it easy on us kids, which is how I learned to be such a good rummy player. I think I took it for granted that we lived right next door, plus I was dealing with my own trauma, but I regret not seeing her more when I lived there. I can remember Mommom at every holiday, every birthday, every slightly special occasion laughing, telling jokes, and eating cake! She's definitely where I get my sweet tooth from!
But after I moved away at 22, I only saw her once every two or so years at Christmas. My brother told me just before her funeral that she would always ask when I was coming home, and she would light up whenever I got there. I know there's a certain aura of excitement for the fresh face of the person you don't get to see a lot (for years I was the only member of the family that lived far away), but I think she liked how independent and funny I was, and how I didn't care what Poppy would think. Making her laugh when I was there was one of my favorite things, although I probably got equally as many eye rolls as I did laughs. She couldn't hide her emotions from us.
I've never been that great about calling people, and you couldn't text Mommom! She never got a cell phone. So, for years we wouldn't talk, then I would see her in person as if nothing had changed. She welcomed me in no matter how long it had been. She would always tell me to come home more often, though. And she was right. Since I moved away at 22, I've probably come home maybe 9 times at the most. NINE times. Nine trips. Nine moments. Although it spanned 12 years, the memories are so few. The moments crucial. Nine times isn't enough to relate to your grandparents as an adult.
But in those final two weeks I got to be with her, we had some of the most beautiful memories we shared. Two adults laughing and sharing stories. She knew she was going to die soon, she was aware. And it was really important to her that we go through her photos. She had books and books of them! One day she woke up so energized! Usually she was a bit slow all day and took many naps, but this one day she woke up with so much excitement for life!
We spent the entire day at the kitchen table going through every photo she had. I took several with me. She asked that the whole family come over because she wanted to buy everyone dinner (something she had never really done because Poppy had all the money). We laughed all day, well into the night, and when she got in bed I asked if I could enter her energy. She laughed and said, "sure, whatever that means!". She calmly and quietly watched as I did some energy work on her, clearing her cords and aura, calling in her guides, and clearing the path up her chakras back home. It was actually a really intense experience for me, as my whole body shook and panged. And she just watched. And when I was done, she said, "all finished?" and she smiled at me. Her wonderful, beautiful smile.
I had to leave the next day and I cried knowing this would be the last memory we would share. We had such an amazing two weeks, but she was deteriorating quickly. Hospice knew she only had a few more weeks after that. When I got to the airport I cried in line for the TSA. When I got home, I cried again. I cry as I write this. What a blessing it is to be able to say goodbye, but damn does it hurt. I like to think that those two weeks I was there were a gift to her as well. She was the only thing on my agenda every day, and I spent each day doing exactly what she wanted to do. Everyone else had been caring for her for months (if not years), but I was that fresh face again for her. A light guiding her in the end.
So, that is why I'm so happy that my grandfather died when he did. If it was going to be around that time anyway, then it was at such a perfect time. If I could go back, I would spend more time with her, but I can't, so I can only honor her memory. That's why the night of her funeral my lady cousins and I decided to get matching tattoos of her signature. She would've hated them, as she hated all tattoos, but I know she's also smiling up there seeing them, knowing I'm the independent, rebel, crazy granddaughter she always knew, and always loved. I love you, Mommom. I love you, Betty Jo.
INSPIRED ACTION: I know people say this all the time but go see your grandparents if you can! Do the math. How many times do you see them a year? The average life expectancy in the US is 77 years old. How many more times do you think you'll really get? Even in the best-case scenario, is that enough? Or will you be like me and wish for more time when it's impossible?