Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I Can't Believe It's Been Two Years Already...

On this day in 2010, my grandmother died. It still feels like only yesterday, probably because of all the time I had spent with her in the last three and a half years of her life. I am fortunate, since I truly knew her; so many people, even in this day and age of longer life expectancy have not had the privilege of knowing their grandparents the way I have known all four of mine.

I remember the day she died very well - it was a Sunday and I was at DeMatha getting set up for the Middle School Academic Challenge, a yearly tournament our quiz bowl team (of which I am a moderator) helps produce along with the school's admissions department. My mom called just before noon crying that Grandma had died; she had been in a hospital bed for a few days in her room in what only could be called hospice. Her breathing had been irregular, but when she did go, it was still a shock.

We didn't get to bury her until Friday, February 5, due to the fact that she was going into Arlington National Cemetery. Incidentally, that was also the day the famed 'Snowpocalypse of 2010' began. It was a nasty day, but we managed to have the funeral and burial in a timely and tasteful manner and get back home before being hit by 45 inches of snow over the following four days.

In the final two years of her life in which I was a regular caregiver, I learned a lot from her and from the experience, namely...

a) That the elderly absolutely need all the care and dignity possible. I knew this previously, but only in the academic sense. Taking Grandma to the bathroom, washing her up, and helping with the little things healthy and able-bodied people take for granted helped me realize NOT to take it for granted, that one day it could very well be me in that same position. Unfortunately, there is a growing chorus of people who are ok with letting our elderly just waste away or even being 'put away' (a euphemism for euthanasia, which is in itself a euphemism for killing them off).

b) That I need taken my own health a little more seriously. Grandma died ultimately from complications of diabetes, something to which I allude when I eulogized her. In the final two months of her life, I was diagnosed with the same, and it was not something I thought would happen so young. In the past two plus years, my health has improved vastly, but mostly because I am afraid of suffering the same fate as she did. I want to live to an advanced age without having to worry about my sight going or my legs being amputated.

Even though it has been two years, I still miss her immensely and it still is a bit painful to recall, especially having witnessed the decline.  I have a lot of fond memories all through my youth when she was spry and running around with us in the yard or at the park, but some days those are harder to remember than the more recent moments of her.  Nevertheless, she was a great woman and I hope she continues to rest in peace complete with the hope of the resurrection.

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