Sunday, May 9, 2010

Great Grandma with the Bunny

On May 8th, 2010 my great grandma died. This was really hard for me because I have known her all of my life. When I was a child I used to call her grandma with the bunny, because whenever I would go to her house she would let me play with a stuffed bunny she had and she would give me a little box with animal crackers in it. It is little things like this that I will always remember. On top of trying to think of the good memories, I remind myself that she had a wonderful life. For her, dying was something she was ready to do. She was a strong woman, one day she told my aunt, “I’m not scared of death, I have seen death more than anyone else I know, and I understand it, only the way a 104 year old woman could understand death.” She was 104 years old and had given birth to 8 children. Her husband had died, along with 3 of her children. Two of them, died of complications at birth and one, my Aunt Rosanne, who died of cancer. I feel happy knowing that she is in heaven with her children and her husband. One day not too long ago, I went over and I played my flute for her. She always loved it when I brought my flute over to play for her. I didn’t know it at the time, but the day I played for her was the beginning of the illness that eventually took her life. I vividly remember her saying, “I don’t feel well today, but I always have time for music!”

Even though she was 104, she stilled lived at her home. When I made my conformation, she sent me a long letter congratulating me and telling me how proud she was. Every year on my birthday, she sent me long letters. She never forgot anything. She had the most beautiful cursive handwriting I had ever seen. She told me when she was a young child, they didn’t teach girls math and science, but they taught them how to write beautifully. I have kept every letter she ever wrote to me.

As she was dying, I went to visit her with my family. I was very sad to see her, knowing it would be the last time I ever saw her, but I wanted to say goodbye. She was lying in a bed, and she looked very tired. We all took turns holding her hands and sharing our memories of better times with her. I was happy that she knew who we were and that her memory was still intact, which was amazing to me. My mom even told her an inside joke, and she laughed. To entertain her, we stood around her bed and sang songs to her. The day after I visited her, my aunt called me and told me she had moved onto a different stage. She was still alive, but she was in a permanent sleep. Then, as her children sat around her bed, she stopped breathing. As far as I know, she never experienced any pain, she died happy. No matter how much you try to prepare for the death of a loved one, you never can. I tried so hard to come to terms with the fact that she was moving on to a better place. I thought that when she died I would accept it in a way. That didn’t happen. When she died, it felt like my breath had been knocked right out of me. It felt as if I had no idea she was going to die. Every time I think about her, I feel that exact same pain all over again. It was the same pain I felt a few years ago, when my great grandpa, “pickle” as I called him, died. Yet, when I cry, it’s not tears of sorrow, but tears of happiness in a way, because I know that she lived a long happy life surrounded by people that loved her.

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