As My Grandmother Lays Dying

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My 93 year old grandmother was placed on hospice care this week. Her daughters and grandchildren are rallying around her, trying to provide her, and ourselves, with comfort during her final days. She has been blessed with a long, healthy life, with a patient, steady husband of over 60 years, who predeceased her, with four daughters who love her, and with a bevy of grandchildren and great-grandchildren who think she’s a hoot.

Watching her live out her last days, I am reminded of what a blessing it is to grow old. I think of the people I have known who passed too soon. Maybe it was due to hard living or a genetic condition. Maybe it was through an accident or unexpected illness. Maybe it was through violence or suicide.

We owe it to them not to spend too much time lamenting our gray hairs, wrinkles, sags, aches, pains, and memory lapses. We owe it to them to be grateful to be alive, and to make the best we can of our lives, whatever that might look like for each of us. We owe it to them to take good care of our health and well-being. We owe it to them to nurture and value our relationships with the people who truly matter most in our lives, and to whom we matter most.

As my last living grandparent lays dying, I feel grateful to have known not just her, but all of my grandparents, and three of my great-grandparents – one of the benefits of having been born to 18 year old parents. As the end of an era draws near, I carry with me into the future the memories, stories, and words of wisdom they have shared.  As my grandmother lays dying, I am reminded of how much I want to live a long, healthy, happy life, and to be surrounded by people I love, who love me back, when I lay dying.

It is up to us to lay the foundation that leads to this circle of love. Some of the questions I ask myself when faced with a decision about what is most important are:  Will this matter when I’m on my death bed? Will this person be by my side when I’m on my deathbed, if he or she is still alive? Will I regret this when I’m on my deathbed? The answers always guide me to what matters most.

May we always remember who and what matters most. May we value our selves and each other well into old age. May we be kind and compassionate to our elders. And may we always be young at heart.

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Here is a (most inappropriate) toast my gregarious grandmother used to say (sometimes to gales of laughter, sometimes to abject horror, depending on the company) when she had one too many glasses of wine: “Here’s to the old lady who lives on the hill; if she won’t give it to you, I will.” I love you, Gram.

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34 thoughts on “As My Grandmother Lays Dying

  1. What a lovely, post, Kim! I know it is hard to lose someone you love, but thank you for sharing this wonderful perspective on her life, aging, and life in general. You’re so right: growing old is a gift, and we need to treat it as such. I’ll be thinking of you….

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Hariod. What is so special is that in her final hours, she was enveloped in love. Even as her daughters and grandchildren stood around her crying, I couldn’t help but think how beautiful it all was because there was so much love in the room. Made me think of The Beatles song “All You Need Is Love” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • This was beautiful, Hariod. Very comforting. Thank you. I hadn’t heard this song before. One thing I love about The Beatles is how simple their lyrics are, yet they invoke such strong feeling. I think the best music is like that.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I am sorry for your great loss. You were blessed to know all your grandparents. I missed out on knowing any of mine well. Your photo tribute is sweet. God bless you. Prayers for peace and love to surround you at this time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful life and lady. I’m so sorry for her passing, Kim. While I didn’t know her that quote you left us with makes me wish I did. That’s the voice of someone who lived and appreciated her life and being surrounded be way she was by so many people who loved her is a testament to that love.
    You are so fortunate to have known your grandparents and to have had her in your life formal long.
    My prayers for all of you and for a beautiful life well lived.
    God rest her soul.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m sorry for you loss. It’s hard to say goodbye to those we love, but how wonderful is to have the memories of the good moments and the lessons we learned from them.
    When I lost my grandfather it was very hard, he was the person I most loved in life, but the memories of him still makes me smile.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m so very sorry to hear about your grandmother, Kim. I know from your later post that she sadly passed away. I’m glad that you were able to know her for such a long time. As you said in your previous reply, grandparents really are special people. I was particularly close to my maternal grandmother, who died thirty years ago. Even today, I still think of her sometimes, but nowadays, the terrible sadness has faded and what I remember most about her is the laughter and the fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a beautiful tribute to your Grandma….she sounded like a pip! While my Mom is not actively dying, she is 89 and has gone through some rough stuff lately and hasn’t been as well as I would like. I see the aging process quite noticeably. She is ready for her death, and I guess, so am I. I moved here to be close to her, because we spent so many years apart–physically and emotionally. I will never regret it. All the things you say here are true–as a medic and medical examiner, I shook hands with death so many times, and it taught me to understand that it may come at any moment, unexpected and with utter finality. And if we don’t appreciate, love, care and notice…all day and every day–then when it comes, it is too late. So thank you this for reminding us all again to do all those things. For our lives are precious and sacred, even when we may not believe it to be so, and once it’s gone, our chance here to believe differently is lost……

    Liked by 1 person

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