A Full Life

My grandmother died early this morning.

The title of this post says it all, as she died less than three weeks from her 101st birthday. Yup, 101. Another couple of weeks and she would have made it. But, you know what, those weeks wouldn’t have been worth it for her.

She made it to 100 — how many can say that? That was last October. And she didn’t just get to 100. She practically sprinted. A few months after she passed that line, however, her body actually realized how old it was. She simply started to fail.

She was my dad’s mom. And after my dad passed, my mom became her primary caretaker. They didn’t have the closest relationship in the world, and her care was a burden on my mom — more than she, of course, would let on.

My grandmother lived more than an hour away most of her life. Then, when it wasn’t the best for her to be on her own, she moved in with my parents. She was in that house until this past April when she needed the care available in a nursing home.

It was the best thing for her. And it was best for my mom. We all tried to help out as much as possible, but it always ended up falling more on my mom than anyone else.

It was difficult to visit her. Someone who was once so strong physically was, literally, fading away. She was basically bed-ridden, unable to support herself on her feet for more than a few seconds. And, she refused a hearing aide, so the best way to talk to her was by writing on a white board.

But, you know what the last thing I saw her eat was? A shake.

And, while her body was failing, her mind remained sharp as ever. Even towards the end, when dates and other things would confuse her, she still had the ability to grasp memories from her mind and share them with us. She always told so many stories about times she spent with us as kids and stories about my dad. It was always great to hear that.

I’ll always remember things like these:

1. that she drove a 1967 Mustang. And when I say drove, I mean drove.
2. that until I was probably 15 or so, everytime I saw her, she’d sneak me a $5 or $10 bill
3. that she used to bring the best desserts to holiday meals. Who cares if they were store bought, it was good stuff
4. that she used to take me down to the beach in the off season
5. that we used to play Crazy Eights when I was a kid
6. that she was a stubborn Irish woman
7. that she traveled all over and always brought me something
8. that she would have me up to her house for sleep overs on her screened porch
9. that she loved her Hartford Whalers and even her New York Yankees
10. that she never showed the emotion of burying a husband and two sons

My grandmother was a piece of work. Truly a stubborn Irishwoman. Certain things just weren’t talked about. And I’ll always wonder about that and regret that about her to some extent. But, she lived to be a 100. She could do what she wanted as far as I was concerned.

I mean, she was born in 1906. All the wars. The Depression. And so much more. She lived through them. And while we never talked about it, it had to have an impact on her life. How could it not?

She definitely had an impact on all of us. It’s never all good, especially when it comes to family. But, the bottom line, more than anything, is family. And she was part of mine.

She had said a month or two ago that she was going to make it to another Christmas and that would be it. Heck, considering her condition, she got further than most probably would.

She didn’t like the condition she was in. I’m convinced of that. She felt as if she was a burden on all of us. You can say this is a relief to my mom and the rest of us. You can say it was expected. You can say it’s a blessing and all of that. 

And, you know what? It’s true. It absolutely is.

But, she’s still gone.


11 Comments on “A Full Life”

  1. Molly says:

    She sounds like an amazing woman.

  2. Miriam says:

    I love women like your grandmother. They’re full of wonderful stories and rich backgrounds.
    I’m very sorry for your loss.

  3. elizabethews says:

    So sorry for your loss… You were lucky to have someone in your life like her.

  4. verybadcat says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. What a great lady, and yes, a full life.

  5. Stormy says:

    I’m sorry to hear the news buddy. Let me know if you need anything. 😦

  6. clinkny says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. She does sound like an amazing woman and now you’ll have an amazing spirit looking over you and your family.

  7. Michelle says:

    I hope that you can pass on her spunk, attitude and stories to Aidan and Erin so that they’ll realize what a cool woman their great grandmother was as well.

  8. L B says:

    Thanks for sharing her story Mike. What a tough AND loving woman. No matter what the circumstances your right, she is still gone. And that alone is hard to get “used” to. This has been a rough year for your family, just know I am thinking about you 🙂

  9. Beta Mom says:

    You did her wonderful justice in your description of her. Thinking of you all now.

  10. Barb says:

    Thanks for sharing those great memories. Grandmothers are something truly special.

  11. Anna says:

    What a great way to honor and remember her with these stories.
    I’m so sorry for the great loss to your family, but so glad to learn more about her on these pages. I hope you are all celebrating her today.


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