Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bittersweet Endings


I struggled with myself about writing this post, but when something is consuming you, you have to do something about it, so I apologize in advance for bringing the tone down, but it does fit with our theme.

Hospice is wonderful. Tells you where I'm going, doesn't it?

The people who work in hospice, as far as I'm concerned, are angels on earth. My grandmother, all 90 years and a few weeks of her, is under their care right now and, as I write this, still hanging on. (I've never heard of hospice calling it wrong, but they did on Saturday when we all went driving to the home and my grandmother pulled through!)

Ninety years is a long time to live. I get that. But this is the woman who taught me to bake cookies. Taught me to sew. Has been my biggest champion and one of the toughest women you'll ever meet. She smoked for fifty years and only got lung cancer 20 years AFTER she stopped smoking - and she stopped smoking with one, count 'em: one, visit to a hypnotherapist. She would bake Easter bread for everyone, labor-intensive loaves that she got up at oh-ungodly-thirty every year to make. She made pizzelles, another labor-intensive baking item that she loved making for the family. For many years we did the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve at her house. She's outlived all of her siblings and all her in-laws except one (but sadly, Uncle Charlie isn't aware that he's still here; she is).

Just the other day, she wanted to call her sisters and tell them she lived longer than they did. You see the kind of woman we're dealing with.

So it is a bittersweet ending. A life well-lived, but a woman I'll have a tough time saying goodbye to.

But I kind of have to: my grandfather has been meandering around heaven for the last 20 years and needs her to tell him what he's supposed to do next.

Love you, Nan!

I'll try to check in and comment, but as the end could be any time, you might not hear from me. Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and loved-one oriented holiday season!

24 comments:

  1. Bittersweet is such a perfect word at times like this, isn't it? Your grandmother sounds like an amazing woman. My grandma taught me to cook homemade donuts, and sew, too - and she made the most AWESOME Barbie doll clothes! I'm convinced that hospice workers are our best and brightest.

    Raising a virtual flute of champagne for your Nan, celebrating a long life well lived, and...new beginnings.

    (Take care of yourself, Judi.)

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  2. Judi,

    My thoughts are with you and your family. It's hard to let go of those special women in our lives. They give us gifts that we hold in our hearts forever.

    My Granny was 92 when she passed, and I have many memories to cherish. But I think the most meaningful memory I carry is watching her hold my new baby and sing to him like she did with me when I was little. This was only days before she died. To me, it was one last lesson in how to love well.

    It sounds like your grandmother taught you about loving well too. I know she'll be missed.

    Samantha Grace

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  3. What a good way to remember an awesome sounding lady. Maybe you could put her in a book. She'd make a great character.

    Ash

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  4. My dad is ninety, my mom is eighty-seven, and I'm watching them closely. I think this generation is the first to live that long in great numbers, and they're a little surprised to find themselves still kickin'. What courage it takes to be that age, and what generosity of spirit is characterized by your gran.
    You don't let go all at once. You let go of the dying process in bits and pieces, and you keep all the good stuff. Your gran would insist on that.

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  5. I've had relatives and friends die young and some that died when they were over a hundred. It's never easy saying goodbye, but often I've noticed a sense of relief when the end comes at last. They're no longer suffering, and you're no longer suffering with them. Yeah, bittersweet...

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  6. My thoughts are with you and your family.

    My step father was under the care of wonderful hospice nurses for the last months of his life. They were such a blessing to him and to my mother as she struggled to take care of him.

    They really are angels and we're so lucky to have them.

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  7. Judi, my heart goes out to you at this time.
    Here's to a wonderful generation of tough women who taught us the important things in life and continue to teach us with the memories that we cherish.
    My grandmother has been gone thirty years but she got me fairly well raised before she made the transition from this life to eternity. I can still hear her voice when I'm about to mess up!
    Sending a big hug to you.

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  8. Judi~ Grandmother's make such an impact in our lives, it's so hard to let them go. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Take care of yourself, Judi.

    Hospice workers are angels with their wings hidden. My mother, mother-in-law and Stepfather have all worked at Hospice, My husband's grandmother and father both passed peacefully there. It's a wonderful organization filled with incredible people.

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  9. I hate to be cliche, but there is truth in the saying A life well loved is a life well lived. I can hear/feel your love for Nan in your post, so I know she had a life well lived. You're in my thoughts, Judi, and though I've never met her, so is Nan, because you made me care about her with your words.

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  10. Ashlyn had a great idea--put her in a book. She sounds like a wonderful woman. I'm so glad you had her to teach you and love you, to show you what a woman could be and do.

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  11. Oh, Judi! What a great tribute. My grandmother is 92 and still alive. I a, so thankful she's still with us. I hope I can be as positive as you when it's her time.

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  12. I had someone tell me once that knowing that you are going to loose a loved one was sort of like standing on a train track, with the train coming at you. You know it's going to get to you and hurt when it does. But it is still a shock when it happens.

    I lost my mother close to 23 years ago. I still miss her and dream of her at times. Usually when I'm down and out and the dreams really help me remember her and how much she loved me. It makes me feel better. Enjoy your grandma while you can, and hold her love and memories in your heart forever!

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  13. Thanks, ladies.

    She's still with us as I write this. Yesterday, she wasn't with us at all, so we thought it was the end.

    Nope. I showed up, told her I was there, her eyes opened and I got an "I love you" out of her.

    Tough old broad. And I wouldn't have her any other way. ;)

    I did dedicate Wild Blue Under to her - she was my first beta reader.

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  14. Thank you so much for sharing your grandmother's story, Judi! This was a really heartfelt tribute, and made me want to call my grandmother (which I'll be doing on my lunch break). What an amazing life, and I hope, like it has been suggested, to see her in a future book!

    Take Care,
    Danielle

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  15. Judi, wha a beautiful tribute to your grandmother. She's sounds like an amazing woman who is leaving behind a wonderful legacy through the lives she touched. Peace to you and your family during this time....

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  16. Judi, hugs to you sweetie, your family and to your dear Nan. You're lucky to have had her in your life. She sounds like such a sweet, tough gal.

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  17. I have to smile when I see Hospice people called angels. I volunteered with Hospice for a number of years. I was often surprised when families expressed such heartfelt gratitude (1) because I didn't feel I had done much, and (2) because I felt I had received so much more than I had given.

    I'm sure your grandmother and all your family are giving something equally precious to Hospice people serving you.

    Blessings to you and your family. And thank you for sharing this time with all of us.

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  18. Judi, my thoughts are with you. My grandma died two years ago (almost to the day). She was 102 years old and I know she couldn't live forever, but I wished she could!

    Sounds like your grandma's spirit lives on in you. Sending you warm thoughts and big hugs.

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  19. Very true, Judi, but I know what you mean about hospice although my aunt's hospice nurses are for extended care for Alzheimer's patients.

    The great thing is you have awesome memories.

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  20. Sorry I'm so late chiming in here. Here's to your grandmother. My own wasn't very active in my life. One died when I was young. My husband's grandmother was kind of like a grandmother to me. SHe was the most incredible woman. Strong, kind, sassy. She lived life and lived it well, with grace and gusto, until February of this year. She had a wonderful life and a good death. I so admire her.

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  21. Judi, what a lovely tribute to your grandmother. I feel like I know her - love the part about calling her sisters.
    You're lucky to have each other in your lives. I'm sure she was proud of your books and your family.

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  22. Ah, Judi, you make me tear up and you made me smile. I hope she's still with you a while longer.

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  23. Blessed.

    Judi, that's what you are. NINETY amazing years to frolic around, and numerous ones with you. A life that filled with living deserves nothing but celebration. So a toast to a wonderful lady.

    We may miss them when they decide to run ahead, but a gift like your grandmother is never really gone. Enjoy the moments and laugh with her. And a gentle hug for when a wave of sadness hits.

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  24. Thinking of you and Nan. My grandmother is in a similar situation right now. Much love to all of you. xoxo

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