Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A change in perspective

My grandmother died last week. We buried her on Saturday. It was a lovely spring day - a day she would have enjoyed, I think.

September 25, 1982 was the worst day of my life. That was the day we laid my grandfather to rest. He was the first family member that I was close to who had died. It was the first funeral I attended. I was devastated by the entire thing.

My grandfather suffered from Alzheimer's Disease. In the last year of his life he didn't recognize anyone except for my grandmother and my mom. I was at their house the day they took him to the hospital because he was beyond my grandmother's ability to control. I never saw him again until the day of the funeral. I never had the chance to say goodbye.

My grandmother had a good life. Over the last couple of weeks she was in the hospital after have an operation. Her body was old and tired. In the end she wasn't strong enough to overcome the trauma of the operation. When I saw her in the ICU at the hospital she was hooked up to wires and tubes going every which way. She was in pain, she had lost weight and her skin color. It was only a matter of time.

I got a call from my dad last Wednesday. I knew they were looking to put her in hospice by the end of the week. He told me she wasn't doing well and suggested I drive up to Conroe to see her. I left my office that afternoon and made the drive. My grandmother was asleep - she never did wake up. But, although her breathing was labored, she didn't appear to be in any pain. I spent an hour in the room with my mom and dad talking. It was peaceful. She had put some weight back on and had regained the color in her skin.

I left Conroe and headed back home so my wife could go to work. After I put the girls down I was sitting in bed reading a book when my phone rang. It was my dad. I knew what he was calling about.

I was glad I had driven up that afternoon instead of waiting until the next afternoon. I was happy that my last image of my grandmother was of her sleeping in bed. It reminded me of walking into our girls' room and watching my daughters sleeping.

I always dreaded the thought of my grandmother dying. We were close. After she moved out of her townhouse, my wife and I would take our oldest daughter (she was a baby at the time) to her apartment at the retirement complex to have lunch or dinner once a week. She and I would talk about football or baseball. I knew she would die one day - but I hoped it would never come.

But I wasn't depressed on Saturday. My mom asked me to say a few words at the funeral. I didn't know if I could keep it together. But I did. The years have changed my perspective on life. As I've gotten older I realize that life is about making memories. As I've gotten older I've learned to appreciate life more and not to take people and things for granted.  As I stood in front of a room of family and friends, I told everyone that it wasn't a day to be sad - that day had already come. I told them it was a day to be enjoy the memories they had of my grandmother. The years have cha

And I guess that's how I made it through it. My grandmother led a long life and I cherish each memory I have of her.

4 comments:

Mirriam Seddiq said...

I am so sorry for your loss. We lost my sweet lady a few weeks ago and while I held it together that week and the week after, I'm not doing so hot right now. Give yourself time. Yes, it's about making memories but don't be shocked if the grief comes when you least expect it.

Houston DWI Attorney Paul B. Kennedy, said...

Thank you for your comment, Mirriam. My oldest daughter will look at me at least once a day and tell me she misses her Gigi. I'm sure it'll hit me at a family gathering that she's not there.

Sustained! said...

I am grateful that you enjoyed a good relationship with her. Your posy hit home for me. My grandparents passed before my kids were born. But my parents live in a different city and your post made me realize that I needed to cheerish them and my relationship with them while they are here. I need to teach my kids to do the same.

Stay with it,

Eric J. Davis

Houston DWI Attorney Paul B. Kennedy, said...

Thanks for the comment, Eric.

Life is something that should be lived, not looked back upon with regret.