I only saw my grandmother cry one time in my 38 years with her, and that was at the funeral for her husband when he passed away 5 years ago.
Dorothy Jane (or Bunny as she was known to those close to her) was a stoic but compassionate woman. Her smile and her laugh were frequent and infectious. Everyone who had the pleasure of meeting her remarked how wonderful she was. I never heard one bad thing said about her. She was a gift to this earth and all who knew her.
That beautiful woman left this earth last night so that her spirit could continue it’s journey.
I remember growing up having dinner every Sunday at her house (or at least it felt like every Sunday). I remember going to the store and wanting something and her slyly handing me five or ten dollars from her purse when my mom said “no.” I remember when she and my grandfather moved to Delaware and we would visit and stay the weekend. I would ride her old bike around the neighborhood and take string, whatever bait I could round up (usually aging lunch meat) and a net down to the dock and catch tiny crabs off the pylons. I remember pontoon boat rides and lively family dinners and reunions and laughter and love.
After my grandfather passed away, she moved into an assisted living to be closer to us. Her health was slowly declining and she couldn’t be alone anymore. I had also just transferred up to the local hospital as a nurse, and almost every time she fell or they thought she was sick, I was there working and would go see her. She usually rolled her eyes at my admonishment at her being there and made a joke about seeing me, asked how my son was, and then talked about how good looking the doctors were.
When she broke her hip and needed help getting cleaned up, I was there to wash her and help the nurse. When she was sick and needed a ride home, I was there (her 4’10 frame was much more easily transferred into my car than anyone else’s). One night on the way home, I can’t remember the exact conversation, but I remember her jokingly saying she would get a tattoo on her ass. I knew at that moment the apple definitely didn’t fall far from the tree!
Then, last May, she was brought to the emergency department for the last time. It was just after Mother’s Day during the pandemic, so no one had been able to visit with her in over a month. I was working and had brought in the rest of the coconut cream pie I had made for my mom (both she and my mother love coconut) so I snuck down to see her and brought her a piece. I asked the doctor if it was ok for her to eat and I fed her. Unfortunately, I got caught by a charge nurse who knew I wasn’t supposed to be there when I went to find her some water and got in trouble and was made to leave. But I would do it all over again for her.
After that hospital trip, she and her daughters decided it would be best to enter hospice, so she wouldn’t need to be carted off to the ER every time something wasn’t quite right. At 88 years old, and not in the best health, she knew she wouldn’t have much chance at a meaningful recovery if she got very ill. So we focused on making the rest of her life as comfortable as possible.
I would have loved another 38 years with my grandmom, but she was ready to end this journey. So together with my family I will mourn our loss, but I am absolutely positive her energy now surrounds us and is free from suffering. Her body is gone, but her tenacious spirit will live on in each one of us for many, many more years.
Thank you, Grandmom, for being the best grandmother I could have ever asked for. I’m proud to carry your genes, your memory, and your love with me for the rest of my days.