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Thursday, March 10, 2005

Excuse Me While I Cry

Even the sad news that you expect, the news that barely has an effect on your life, can take the breath out of you. So, you’ll excuse me while I cry a bit.

I’ve just got news that my grandmother passed away five days ago. I don’t have any details, and I probably never will. She had separated from my grandfather when he was in the hospital a little over a year ago, and I had only seen her one time since. Her kidneys had failed her and she required regular dialysis.

Her mind had started to fail her years ago. When I did see her, she was paranoid and confused; her thoughts were a jumble of memories and movies that didn’t make sense. She believed that my grandfather wanted to leave her penniless while she and my aunt struggled to get by. Meanwhile, my grandpa paid for my aunt’s rent, her car, extra for health care, and even a helping hand to some of the grandkids when they ran into trouble.

When my parents moved grandpa out to Arkansas, the split between grandma and grandpa was complete. In the letters he’s written me, he wished that he could see her and be with her again. But the distance was too great--both the miles and the months that past without contact.

There was a time when she was a strong, beautiful woman and her mind was clear. She was lively and her laughter would fill a room with the kind of joy that I’ve never been able to bring to others. If she sometimes felt a restlessness in her life, I’m nothing but sympathetic; sometimes standing still is the hardest path to travel.

I haven’t seen her in over a year, and I’ll never see her again. In Arkansas tonight, my grandpa’s heart is breaking. Even a carefully cultivated distance can’t keep me from this tightness in my chest. She’ll be in my memory forever, along with Chick and Uncle Billy and the rest, and she’ll always be that younger, vibrant, hot-tempered woman.

Excuse me while I cry for what I’ve lost, for what my grandpa has to be feeling, and for everything that time’s passing steals from us.

Rest, grandma.

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