My sister called. She wanted to let me know that our cousin was in touch with her to update us on our Grandmother. The message was: "If you want to see Grandma again, do it now." My Grandmother is 93 years old. She will be 94 in April. She has had minor health issues all her life, but this time my cousin thinks she will not pull thru.
My sister is planning on visiting her this week. From her house, the drive is about an hour or so to her nursing home. My sister feels the need to touch base with our Grandmother one more time. She wants to try again to get her to say she misses our Mom, that she loved all her kids, that she is proud of her grandkids and thinks great-grandkids are a blessing. I hope my Grandmother comes thru for her.
I debated about going down to see her too. Pepper thinks I should. From my home to hers it is about a 3 hour drive…. Not really far at all. I go farther to take Pete hunting or the family on a weekend camping trip. I’ve driven farther to watch a football game. But it isn’t the miles that make me think I do not want to go. It is the time. The time in years. If I could drive down and reverse the years as I go-- I would not even hesitate.
I want to drive down and see the Grandma that came to our house on Christmas morning early enough so she’d be there when we opened our gifts. I want the one that took me sled riding in the park on a black garbage bag because we forgot to bring our sleds when we stayed over night at her house. I want the Grandmother that let me ride her three-wheeled bike through her Florida neighborhood with my sister in the basket screaming as I took corners on just two wheels. I want the grandma who laughed when I ran into her garbage cans in her garage when I was first learning to drive…. And jokingly told my grandfather they almost had a drive-thru kitchen. I want the Grandmother that attended all my birthday parties, graduations and bought more Girl Scout cookies than she ever wanted.
If I could drive down to meet THAT Grandmother I would not hesitate. I wish as I drove down toward her nursing home I could drive back thru time. Erasing years as I drove. I would drive down through the memories of the petty arguments she had with my mother. The frustration of feeling like I had to choose a side between them and her frustration when I ‘sided’ with my mom. I would drive away from the sadness and the hurt and misunderstandings that I had with her. I would completely forget the anger I felt at her for not coming to my mother’s funeral and at her refusing to talk about her only daughter when I desperately needed her to.
I would not even try to explain my reasoning or the rationale for why I made the choices I did. I would not be mad or sad or hurt. I would just be that 10 year-old girl that only sees her as the best grandma in the world. She would look at me and see the little kid that she nicknamed “Pixie” when I was still in diapers. A name that I’ve almost shaken. It is soon to fade away completely.
I have decided not to drive down. It would be too much like the drive I did years ago to say good-bye to my mother. I really did want to be there at the end of my mom’s life. It was pretty much the same 3-hour drive. I never got to say good-bye to my Mom, she had died by the time I got to her.
I did visit my grandmother last year at Christmas and ‘fixed’ things… as much as they could be fixed. And when I saw her this Christmas I knew it was close to the end. We had a good visit. There was a picture of my mother on her wall from when she was a baby. I hadn’t seen it in a long time. I asked about it and my Grandmother even told me the story of who took it. As we left her room I said to Pepper I thought that would be the last time. Even the kids knew that “GG” (for Great-Grandmother) was not doing well.
I am so thankful that I got to have a grandma like her as a kid. I’ve been grieving the loss of that relationship for years. I am grateful that I got the chance to fix things and talk to her as an adult. I am glad she got to meet my kids and see me grow up to be a halfway decent person. I hope when she gets to heaven she tells my mom how we are all doing…. and I hope they work things out too. That’s how I want to think it will be.