Friday, July 22, 2011

Saying Goodbye

I had to wait on this blog post for a day. Not everyone in the family knew and while I know everyone who reads my blog at the moment, you never know who might stumble upon it. It wouldn't be a pleasant way to find out.

One of my earliest memories of my Grandma was when I was very young, maybe 3 or 4. My oldest brother and I were spending the night at her her apartment. My two other brothers were spending the night at their maternal grandmother's house. My brother must have had a cold or something because my Grandma put Vick's VapoRub on his chest. And I wasn't having any part of his getting some Vick's and not me. So she rubbed some on me too.

When we were little all the family celebration were at Grandma and Grandpa's house. And for each of these occasions Grandma made very special cakes.  They were money cakes. She'd bake a cake, slice it in half, wrap up coins and ice them into the middle  of the cake. It was always a big deal to us kids because naturally the adults would hand over the money they got in their slices to us.

My Grandma had a silver seal and several pieces of Blue Mountain Pottery on her coffee table that I used to love playing with when we visited.

My Grandma made the best shortbread cookies known to man. And they always had the nice little maraschino cherry on them.

My Grandma became Mémère when my younger cousin was born, so as not to mix her up with his maternal grandmother. The name stuck and while the rest of us Grand kids all called her Grandma, the Great-Grandchildren all called her Mémère.  Mémère is French for Grandma. My Grandma was grew up speaking French in New Brunswick. When she was younger she'd occasionally speak to some ladies at bingo en francais and it always amazed me at how it just flew out of her, accent and all. I didn't have the advantage to her being able to help me with French homework though as it was a different dialect than we are taught in school.  And clearly, based on my pathetic grasp of the French language, I did not inherit her abilities. 

I took Marie as my Confirmation name, after my Grandma, Eve Marie.

If Connor had have been a girl, he would have been named after her, Erin Eva.

Once, when I was about 17, I had gone to pick up my Grandma for bingo. She was wearing a white shirt that had red, yellow and black geometric patterns on it. I said to her "Wow Grandma, I love that shirt!" She promptly took the shirt off and said, "Well here you go then, you have it."  That's the kind of person she was. 

When I told my PP sisters that my Grandma had died one of them said to me that her Grandma too was 93 and that she felt so lucky to have been able to know her grandma not just as a child but as an adult too. And I think how right that is. I was so incredibly lucky to have been able to know my Grandma in my adulthood. From the time I was old enough to go to bingo until she was physically unable to do so anymore I spent just about every Sunday with my Grandma at bingo. A lot of time to just be in each others company, hear stories, share our time.  I'll always treasure that.

Many, many years ago when I was still a teen I'd mentioned to my mom that I would love to someday have my Grandmother's tea set. She had a gorgeous pink tea set in her china hutch. At some point my mom mentioned this to her and my Grandma  put my name in the tea pot. Years later when she moved into the nursing home that tea set was packed up and given to me. I'll cherish it forever.

My mom said to me today that my Aunt asked if I'd like to do a Eulogy at my Grandma's funeral. I'd love to. I really, really would because what I wrote above is just a small fraction of what I would say. The problem is, I can type and cry at the same time. I can't speak these words, it's too hard. I'd not get past the first sentence. My cousin will do it instead.

I hadn't seen my Grandma in about two months. We didn't visit as often as we should have, my primary excuse being my children. I always stressed about them running amok in the nursing home and wreaking havoc.

I knew she was not doing well and I'll be honest, I really wasn't sure I was going to go and see her. I have these horrible flashbacks of my Father in the day he died, his breathing being so laboured and inconsistent. I couldn't bear to be there with my Dad and I didn't think I could be there with my Grandma either.  And then my brother mentioned to me that she was in a lot of pain and yelling. It's not how I wanted to remember her.  But I went, because Sean made me see that if I didn't I would have forever regretted not saying goodbye. And he's right.

So I went with my mom yesterday to go see my Grandma. She was in pain and but a shell of the woman I remember seeing a couple of months ago. But she said hi to me when my mom told her I was there. And though I spent much of the time fighting tears and rocking nervously in her chair I was able to do for her what I think I wasn't able to do for my Dad on his last days. I was able to bring comfort, if even for a moment. I rubbed her head and told her I was there with her, that the nurse was bringing her meds and her pain would be gone soon and she was calm.  And as I rubbed my Grandma's head I was taken aback by the striking resemblance between her and my Dad.

I was able to kiss my Grandma one more time and say I Love You and Goodbye.

And an hour after my mom and I left, she died.

The world was a better place for having had her in it and I, blessed for having had her as my Grandma.


  1. I'm so so sorry. What beautiful stories...and what an amazing woman...may she rest in peace. And I pray you and your family find comfort during this hard time.