Jason and I were both grateful to have our Grandmothers in our lives until we were in our thirties. Many of our friends have not been so fortunate. Both of us lost our Grandfathers when we were small children, but our Grandmas have been a constant in our lives. Both were always ready for a game of cards, and offered an open lap to sit in, a hand to lightly tickle our backs, or a mischevious grin and a wink.
Jason's Gramma lived in Kelowna, and we tried to see her as often as we could. From Jason's parents' cabin, we would make the long drive over gravel logging roads to see her for a visit. She always delighted in our kids, chatting with them, holding them, and loving them so clearly you could see it moving back and forth between them. Our kids were in love with Gramma. She radiated life and joy and vitality.
We were privileged to see her a few days before she died, and even though she was frail and sick from cancer, she was at home, and in her own bed, and she was still thrilled to see us and the kids. I held her hand and looked into her eyes, and saw the same woman deep inside. Her body was failing her, but her spirit was intact, and she was as brave and feisty in her personality as she had always been, and I found that immeasurably comforting.
We drove home after our visit, and two days later she passed away, and we prepared to drive back to Kelowna for her funeral. They had an open casket, and Ava asked to go and see Gramma, but I said no, because I saw my Grandpa's body when I was five years old, and it upset me deeply, and I wanted to spare that for Ava until she was a little older and could understand death just a bit more. Gramma was 94, and it's easier to explain death at that age to your children, because she lived a long and full life, and she loved and was loved, and her death was peaceful.
Jason's Gramma died in May, and that fall, my Granny was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 90. My family is very small, with no real extended family, and my Granny was a very big part of my life as I grew up. For the last few years of her life, my Granny and my mom lived in the same house, and I got to see her even more and she became a bigger part of my kids' lives after we moved to Alberta.
I miss her. I miss her warmth and joy when we would come over. I miss the way she watched the kids dance and sing and run around. She enjoyed them so much, and they loved her in return. I miss kissing her on the cheek and receiving a hug from her every time we saw each other.
After her cancer diagnosis, she was in and out of the hospital, and died a few weeks later. I had the privilege of being in the hospital room with her when she died. I had scheduled a visit, and asked a friend to look after William while Ava was in Kindergarten, so that I could really talk with her. No one was expecting her to die that clear November morning. It was an honour to sit with her, holding her hand, looking into her eyes, and talking to her while her body shut down. She was completely at peace, ready to go, and not afraid. That was inspiring to me; in death, as in life, she walked into it with her head held high.
I wrote a story about her death, from her perspective, and it was recently published by Pages of Stories in their July issue. The story is called All Been Said, and it can be viewed for $6.99 or you can purchase an annual subscription to the online magazine for $20.99. My story is on page 9 of Issue #2.
If you read it, I'd love to know what you think. The magazine's publisher said it made her cry every single time she read it for editing purposes, and she already knew what was coming! One of my favourite parts of the writing process is the nature of re-living powerful experiences through the forum of fiction. You can keep the spirit of the event alive, while changing certain details and hopefully making something that happened to you, interesting to other people.