This blog post took a long time to write. How do you write about something that makes you cry every time you think about it? That causes an ache in your chest when you think about it?
Two weekends ago, Ryan and I went to visit with my grandma (who I visit 2-3 times a week) before heading to Waterton to celebrate our anniversary. Two hours later my Aunt called to tell me Grandma had passed away. The shock I felt was tremendous!
She had been sick for a couple weeks with a bladder infection and it had affected her ability to read and she forgot words, but she said otherwise she felt fine. My grandpa used to have that. If he got an infection his Alzheimers would get worse but when the infection cleared up he was fine. I figured it would be the same for my grandma. She was healthy for an 83 year old. She had diabetes and needed insulin, but other that she was never on any other medications. Her mind was sharp and she spent hours and hours reading books, Western’s were her favourite.
The day I saw her, she had gotten her hair done that morning (she had it curled once a week) and seemed fine. I thought losing my grandpa slowly over the course of several weeks was hard, but that phone call took my breath away. It didn’t feel real. My grandma was a tough, no nonsense, German who loved me so much and was my biggest cheerleader in everything I did. She was also my rock, the person I knew I could ask for help if I ever needed it.
My father passed away when I was 10 and left my mom a widow with five children aged 1-10 years old. My mom went into a deep depression and spent a lot of time in her room coping with the loss. I decided as the oldest, I had to take on my dads role and run the household. I changed my little brothers diapers, gave him bottles, took my siblings on outings to the parks to get them out of moms hair. I also did my best at cooking and cleaning.
But a 10 year old can only do so much. So at times when I felt overwhelmed I would call my grandma. She would show up the next morning (she lived 5 hours away) and stay for one or two days cooking, cleaning, and tackling the laundry. She would send me to my room to read or to a friends house to play because she knew I needed a break. I did this several times over the course of a couple years.
My mom used to say “How does she know? How does she know to come for a surprise visit when the house is at it’s messiest?” Well- I called in a ringer.
And I’ve always had that security in my life, knowing that my grandma was there for me. Even this last year where she was in a home and I spent a lot of time helping her she still had my back. She gave me money to fix my car window after it was broken into, and she lent me her car with no set return date after I totalled my Jeep. She was there.
I used to love our visits. She always had a to-do list for me which I would take care of first and then we would sit and chat. In the last few years she started to tell me all these stories from her youth in Germany which I hadn’t heard before and a real friendship developed.
I’m going to miss her- BAD. This last week since her funeral has been especially tough because I’m so used to my regular visits, that a huge part of my life is missing. I make out my daily to-do list and “Visit or Call Grandma” is no longer on there.
I hate that I won’t get to bring my son to see her when he’s born. She and I made plans or regular walks in the summer because for the first time since I moved here, I won’t be working during the summer. I used to tell her she had to wait until she was at least 95 years old because I needed her. And she said she never wanted to get THAT old.
I could go on and on. I had to write a post to honour this amazing woman! This pillar in my life who has had so much influence on who I am as a person.
Hug your loved ones everyone, because at the end of the day, family is all that matters.