Life sometimes catches you completely unawares.
Very early Saturday morning my grandma passed away. I had posted last week that she was approaching the end and how I was considering stepping into a more present care-giving role. As it turned out, it never was an issue.
I was there at the end. In fact, as it so happened, I ended up being the only one in the room when she did pass. We had been up until about 2 am when my aunt moved into one of the bedrooms, my mom settled on the couch, and I leaned back into a recliner to sleep a little. Grandpa had gone to bed a while before as he has his only failing body to cope with as well.
It took me some time to fall asleep but I did for about an hour and a half. I am a very light sleeper so when Grandma’s breathing pattern changed I woke up. I listened for a second and sure enough it had changed and I was certain the end was coming soon. So I woke up my mom and told her. She got up to go to the bathroom and to wake up my aunt and grandma but before anyone else could make it back out into the living room Grandma had stopped breathing.
It is not easy to see life leave another person. It was a little easier than my dad as she was 87 years old and had lived a very good, fulfilling life, but difficult nonetheless. Added to it is the knowledge that Grandpa will soon follow.
I call her the Matriarch because that is exactly what she was. The glue that held our family together. The rallying point for us all. She was one of the strongest women I’ve ever known in all my life. Born literally days before the beginning of the Great Depression she defied women of her era. She played women’s basketball in high school. The only true ‘sport’ women had at the time in the school.
She worked outside of the home in a time where most women were expected to be in the kitchen, cooking dinner (she hated to cook) and raising the children. She was the secretary of the local high school for 26 years where she nurtured the troubled and the gifted alike. After retirement, her life revolved around her grandkids and great-grandkids. Mini Me was her shining star.
Probably one of the most amazing things to me (perhaps because I have failed so miserably to achieve this) is the true partnership she and my grandpa had. For nearly 70 years they operated as a team. They were equals and they both worked hard for all they had. My grandpa didn’t ‘rule the roost.’ If anyone ruled it was probably her. Both them and my parents set a standard of marriage that is so high I have failed to achieve it. It was both heart-breaking and beautiful to see my grandpa beside through it all. His suppression of his own failing health to care for her to her dying day.
I have so many amazing memories of my grandma and while she will be missed by not just my family but truly by the entire town we life in, her life is one to celebrate.