I learned late last night that my grandma’s oxygen levels were dipping very low. She was comfortable, and three of the nurses in our family were there with her as she passed from this life.
A year or two ago I was at work when she had a health scare, and the family worried she might not make it. I took an early lunch, and went and sat in my car and cried and cried over my food. She made it through, and I was so relieved. Still, I had had a preview of what this grief would look like.
I thought about why my Grandma Grace is special to me. I named my daughter after her, and I have always admired her so much. When I was a little girl, I learned to tie my shoes at her house. She had a couch with the most exciting dramatic floral pattern, and my cousins and I would always strip it of the cushions and play “store” or make our own forts with them. She was always so patient. She fed us. She entertained us. She gave us a big hug when we walked in and out of the door and told us she loved us.
When I applied for college, the school of my choice was in the same town where she lived. She wrote me a letter inviting me to stay at her house while I attended the university. I accepted her offer, and for four years, I lived in her basement apartment. She made me dinner every night in addition to providing shelter for me.
I studied abroad the fall of my junior year, and a few weeks after I got home one of the girls from my program was killed in an accident. I was devastated when I found out. I went upstairs, and I sat on Grandma’s couch crying. She sat next to me, and I leaned my head on her shoulder, and even without words her presence was a great comfort.
She reared eight children, and helped with others after she retired, including me. I know she worked a lot because it takes a lot to raise a large family. She practiced for many years as a nurse, and later taught nursing at a local college.
At one point my grandpa had a stroke, and he struggled with his mental and physical health until he passed away 16 and 1/2 years ago. She cared for him through that time.
I don’t know what her network of support was like, although I know it included many of her children who live nearby. I don’t know what wisdom she would pass to other caregivers, because I never interviewed her for this project. What I do know is this. One of the most caring women I have ever known has died. I consider myself very blessed to have known her, and I will miss her terribly. She is a great example to me of a life well lived.
Grandma Grace, thank you for caring for your family and all those other people you looked after as a nurse and personal caregiver. I honor your work, and you will be deeply missed now that it is complete.