We visited with the kids, and that brightened Grandma's day. We're a family of women that are comfortable with life's natural processes; my mother retired from 35+ years of nursing, my sister is a doula, and we've all given birth at home. We're not easily grossed out by illness and what comes with it. I want my children to feel comfortable with the idea of people aging, and explained to them that GG's body was tired because it had been alive for so long! They in turn felt quite at home during our visit to the hospital.
Margot helps herself to GG's lunch.
Violet was curious about all the equipment in the room.
Grandma blossomed under the sunny attention of her great-grandchildren.
After a few weeks, Grandma's health started to slip. She lost her appetite, and began to lose weight. It soon became clear that she might not get better, and her family of 3 surviving children and 3 children-in-law, 16 grandchildren, and 18 great-grandchildren (not to mention the many nieces, nephews, and other relatives that joyfully call her "Auntie Pearl") would have to come to terms with saying goodbye to this marvellous person.
On Christmas morning, my mother woke up with a notion: she would bring Grandma home. Dad quickly agreed, and the wheels were set in motion.
On Boxing Day, my husband and brothers-in-law carried Grandma's stretcher up onto the porch, and into mom and dad's house, to the sunroom that had been transformed into a palliative care room. The bed was made up in cozy flannels, with my grandpa's favourite afghan draped across the foot. All the cards and letters she has received have been taped all around the room. Soft Celtic music plays, and Grandma is surrounded by the sight of the sky, and mom's garden in winter.
Most of all, she is surrounded by those that cherish her. On the day she arrived, a few of her great-grandchildren were present; all kissed and hugged and welcomed her. My niece even climbed up on the bed with her, and spent a peaceful while wrapped in those old arms. When my husband came to kiss her, I asked her if she knew who he was; she gave me a mock stern look, and replied, "My boyfriend!"
My mother is a caregiver extraordinaire. This evening I popped in to help mom shift Grandma on the bed to make her more comfortable, and mom performed those care-giving tasks that prove her worth as a nurse, and a daughter-in-law. Grandma looked into my mom's eyes with so much love and gratitude. They met when my mom was 12 years old, and had a crush on my dad.
The beauty of life's circle is with me as I write. I shed tears when I think of life without my dear Grandma, that indomitable woman with her irrepressible sense of humour, her love of cards and food and good company, her sharp wit and keen mind. But the peace I feel to see her in the care of family outweighs any grief I may feel, and I whisper a prayer that I might someday be so blessed.