My grandmother, Nana, died today, less than three months after her husband of 73 years died in March. She had been in pretty good health (especially for a 91-year-old) until about three weeks of widowhood, when various problems began. Since then, she's only spent a couple nights in her own home, bouncing in and out of the hospital and nursing homes.
We are especially sad because we had hoped she would be able to travel and visit relatives and such now that Grandpa was gone. He had been homebound for the last couple years of his life, and she was always more social than him anyway. The only trip she got to make was down to our house for Easter, and it was extremely special.
Kate and I went up to Louisville three weeks ago to visit my parents and Nana. We took her out to lunch (at which I took the photo below) and then chased the ducks around the pond at her nursing home.
We took a four-generation photo, knowing it could be the last time we saw her.
Since returning to the hospital yet again one week ago, she has been saying that she's ready to go. She was just so sad to have lost "Dad," as she called him (Nana and Grandpa called each other "Mom" and "Dad") and she certainly didn't want to live much longer in the medically frail condition she'd so quickly developed.
So, in that way, it is good that she didn't hang on and on, struggling for years on end with various ailments. I hate that she had to die in the hospital, with an oxygen mask and feeding tube. In her final hours, she had been saying "I want to go home," which may have meant Heaven with her husband, but probably also her house. Grandpa got to die at home, returning there after a month of off-and-on stints in the hospital and nursing home. He went home, had one perfect day with his beloved, sitting and talking, eating his favorite meal of beef-and-noodles, saying he was tired, and laying down in his bed.
I'm sad to lose her. She who was so sweet and precious. Imagine Betty White, but without the profanity-for-humor's-sake. Nana was just so cute. She wrote me letters often once I'd left home for college and then Nashville, and the one that sticks out in my mind most was one in college where she said "I wish I could go to college. I would learn to play chess." I remember when I would visit their house as a child, Nana would let me have M&Ms out of her jar, but not too many--"just take one of each color," she would say. I'm sure I'll be sharing these memories and others at her funeral later this week. It feels like deja vu, picturing the funeral home and all the relatives that so recently came together for Grandpa.
I'm also sad to have lost my last grandparent. I was proud as a child to be one of the few kids with all four grandparents at Grandparents Day. They all lived close by and we all spent holidays together. Granny lived until the end of my junior year of college. Then Grandad died four years after that, a few months before Matt and my wedding. Then Grandpa and Nana four years after that. They're all gone. I feel like I've shifted generations suddenly--no longer in the younger half of four living generations, I am now in the middle, and my parents are the only "grandparents" there are. My parents have been deep in the "sandwich generation," having to do a lot for their parents for the last thirteen years or so. I don't know what Mom will do with all her time now. It's a new stage of life.
Bless you, Nana. And bless you, Grandpa. You met at a dance hall in 1936, and now you're in each other's arms again.
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away." --Revelation 21:4