Monday, August 27, 2007

My Grandma Dies

So if you don’t think I’m homesick already, forget about it. I can’t stand it. Even though it costs me a fortune and I have to arrange childcare for my kids, and get my hubby to take time off work, and even though I've been home for only 2 weekends the entire summer, I drop what I’m doing and buy a ticket to Chicago. To attend the wake and funeral. To be home again. Home. Again.

And this is after last year at this same time that my mom calls me and says they’re taking my grandma off of dialysis. She’s been in a nursing home for years---like nine. And she’s got advanced Alzheimer’s. She perks up when you enter the room, but she rarely knows who anyone is. And apparently was hating---hating---the dialysis. Every time the little bus would show up at the nursing home, the little bus that drove the elderly citizens to the dialysis center, my grandma would kick and scream. Literally cry and fight with the aides, the nurse, the driver. She tried so hard not to get on that bus. She hated the dialysis. And they were making her do it three times a week. So finally, finally, my family members said, “why should we keep doing this to her? She’s 82. She’s had a good life. Let’s take her off the dialysis.” Well, the doctor gave her 7-10 days to live.

My mom tells me. 7 to 10 days. Well, we have just about 10 days left before school starts, so without hesitation, I buy three plane tickets on very short notice. Not cheap. And the girls and I fly out there. To be with my mom, for sure, (it was her mother) and also to stay long enough that we can hopefully attend the funeral. On the same dime.

We visit her every day. Every. Day. My kids turn pale pink at the thought of the nursing home. Sure, the first couple of days were fun. There’s a popcorn maker in the lobby after all and no one cares how much of it you take. But after the first couple visits, even they, the ones that don’t notice dog poop when they step in it, even they start to smell the pee of the place. (Sidebar---why is that anyway? I once did a research project in several nursing homes in Eastern Kansas and every single one---every single one---even the ones in the upper demographics, even those smelled like pee. What gives with that? Okay, sidebar over.)

So, it doesn’t happen. She doesn’t die. The girls and I go home. We were glad, very glad that we went. And then, a year later. A year. Just after we get home from spending 2 weeks in Chicago, we literally had just come home a week and a half before, my mom calls me. At five am. “Grandma passed away this morning. I’ve been waiting an hour to call you. You don’t have to come. You were just here. Besides, you came last year and visited her every day.”

After the comatose fades, I buy a ticket. Not three this time. School has already started. Plus the one cost me $650. I rent a car. I show up at the wake and the funeral. We all cry. We all reminisce. Some of these people I haven’t seen in ages. Ages. And I’m glad as hell that I went. Home. To my grandma’s funeral.

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