(A very non-flattering photo of my father and his mother.)
My paternal grandfather, George, died in November, 2003. He’d been sick, and when I saw him one mildly-cold Sunday, he’d been unconcious for several days, moaning in his sleep on a hospital bed set up in the farmhouse‘s living room, under the care of a giant and gentle black nurse. He was a tough old gizzard, who only a few months prior had given himself a nice whack on his very bald melon when he’d insisted on mowing the lawn and forgotten to duck when he rode the mower under a low-hanging branch.
The next day, leaving the Indy, my phone rang with a call from my mother — didn’t take a genius to figure out what she was calling about, and indeed, he’d passed away. I wish I could say he passed away peacefully, but I don’t think he was. There were some things to take comfort in — he’d lived a long life (he was 90, if memory serves), and his one wish — to pass before his wife, children, and grandchildren — was granted.
So when my cell phone rang tonight at ten o’clock, and I saw it was from my parents’ cell-phone, it once again didn’t take a lot of guessing to figure out why there were calling me so late — my mother had let me know earlier this month that her health was deteriorating — and indeed, my paternal grandmother went to sleep Tuesday night and passed away this evening at about 9:30.
Jeanne (also my mother’s name, guess Dad took the “sons marry their mothers/daughters marry their fathers” old wives’ tale a bit seriously), born the same year as her husband, was suffering from Alzheimer’s. I can’t remember the last time she recognized me, even when Dad told her who I was. But for all that, she died peacefully surrounded by family — my dad, my mom, my uncle and aunt — and for all I know and hope, she’s reuniting with her husband now.
Love you, Grandma.
(Hah. Actually, she was deaf as a post for at least the last twenty years, so it wasn’t enough to say “I love you, Grandma”, you pretty much had to grip her shoulders and scream it into her ear “I LOVE YOU GRANDMA!”, and even then she’d look at you, complete bewilderment on her face, and say, ‘The barn is on fire?’)