Print Story Grandma
By duxup (Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 01:03:00 AM EST) (all tags)

A long time ago my Grandma was awaiting the arrival of a cab at her parents house that would take her to the train station in St. Paul. Not long before this Grandpa was wandering on the beach with a friend in Hawaii having returned from sailing around the pacific on hospital ships. He was assigned to one of the local hospitals and had requested and received one of the coveted bits of military housing near the hospital where he would live with his wife would spend the rest of the war. It was going to be great.

While wandering the beach with his buddy a jeep drove up and a solider asked for Grandpa. He was assigned to the marines and shipping out now. He told his buddy to get a message to his wife, don’t come. The story goes that Grandma got a call (not sure if you could easily call from Hawaii to the states during that time but that is how the story goes) just before the cab was due to show up at her parents house. Grandma was alone and sat on the front steps crying. Her father and mother woke up to check to see if she was still home and found her.

Her mother said: “Well it is God’s will.”

Grandma replied angrily: “Don’t blame God for what the Navy did!”

Grandpa would would survive the war although their dream of him finishing his duty in Hawaii never came to be. A while later Grandma would take the train to somewhere in California (I forget where) to meet up with him after he was shipped home. His final destination would change several times and Grandma had to chase it up the west coast until they finally met up in Seattle. It was nearing Christmas so most service men weren’t meeting up with anyone once they made it stateside, rather they were running home.

Accordingly the hotels were near empty and Grandma recalled they managed to stay at a swanky old hotel and had it nearly to them self. In fact the restaurant was closing when they got to the hotel but having noticed a newly returned serviceman the manager had the chef cook them up a series of scrumptious plates while they dined alone.

They returned to the Twin Cities and Grandpa started his practice with another doctor. Their first office was in a home and Grandma and Grandpa lived upstairs. Well they mostly lived upstairs as part of upstairs was also the doctor’s lab. The door to the lab reportedly opened to a tiny “kitchen” that was mostly a stove, some shelves, and a table and chairs.

At that time the local priest at their church discovered that they could not have children and reportedly told them “I have big plans for you then.” He connected them with Catholic Charities who at the time was handling adoptions. The story goes that Grandma would get a call asking if they’d like a baby (they would drop off the baby in a matter of hours), Grandma would say yes, then open the door from the kitchen to the lab to ask Grandpa what he thought. Grandpa would later say “I knew she already said yes most of the time. I knew I couldn’t say no.”

They would eventually move out of the small room above the office but not before adopting their first few children. My father a colicky baby like myself earned a reputation as “Iron Lungs Mike” for his crying fits.

In all they would adopt 7 and have 8 children with a surprise baby of their own that came along during the adoptions. Growing up I never too much note that at the exceptionally LOUD dinner table none of my aunts and uncles were an interesting mishmash of faces and people. I can’t recall anyone ever mentioning adoption. It wasn’t a secret, just not relevant. Their family was varied but to a person seemingly all very good people as far as I know. Grandma would always be in charge of making holiday, dinner, and just about every arrangement and she loved it.

When my father died I was 9, I don’t recall much about Grandma and Grandpa at that time. Word has it loosing a child is a terrible experience even amongst the other possible terrible experiences. Starting my own family recently I still can’t imagine how they felt. 

They never did they mention how much I looked like or reminded them of my father. Talking about something like that would be understandable if they did it and some aunts and uncles noted how I reminded them of my father regularly, all innocently done of course. Grandma and Grandpa never mentioned it. I think they understood that as a child such comments innocently made were more about their feelings and in some ways made me a bit uncomfortable about what to say to such things. They instead chose to ask me about me, I’m sure while thinking about their son too, but they never showed it. They would talk about my father, but it was clearly done as we were two different people regardless of the fact that I’m sure I always reminded them of their son.

About 11 years ago I moved from home to the Twin Cities. Around that time I started visiting them on weekends having dinner with them regularly. It was a wonderful welcome. Family events in the cities often had me accompanying them. It was the home I remembered most of my Twin Cities Christmas’s at.

Eventually I took a family friend’s place at The Guthrie theater when she couldn’t make it and after Grandma’s knees started giving her trouble I started accompanying Grandpa to his Gopher football games regularly.

A few years ago Grandma and Grandpa made arrangements to move into one of those multilevel care facilities where they could live independently, or with some care, or in the attached nursing home and so forth to ensure they’d always be together. Just a few months before moving Grandma was working in the garden at her home and fell and broke her hip. Like so many medical issues later in life the fall itself wasn’t catastrophic, however more problems quickly followed and like her mother before her a series of strokes.

She would loose much of her vision early on. Her mind was there early on but she couldn’t always get the words out. Things would become less clear as the years would go by and more strokes were thought to be taking their toll. Grandma would never tell me, but I know she wasn’t happy with the quality of her life to the point she would have if she could I think chosen to die. In fact I know she wanted to move on, but she never said a word to me. My wife would meet her after her strokes began, I wish she had met her before then too.

Grandma did meet our son several times as recently as a few weeks ago. We sat him in her lap and in front of her as he squealed and talked. She couldn’t see him but she felt his soft skin. That was a good day for Grandma, she was remembering things accurately and that my wife and I had a son named after her husband and late son.

A week or so after that Grandma took a turn for the worse and much of the family flew to the Twin Cities. It would turn out to be a false alarm but this past week it was the real deal.

We went to visit Grandma and Grandpa on Tuesday after getting the call that things were bad. Word had it Grandma had spoken from time to time but at no time would she do so when we were there. All I ever heard was quietly moaning “help me” and “I beg of thee”. “I beg of thee” was what her mother often whispered as she died.

Her children and husband maintained a round the clock bedside vigil each taking shifts. Word has it on the first night when one daughter was crying grandma became coherent, albeit speaking slowly, and tried to comfort her daughter. What was said exactly and how I don’t know.

Wednesday we came back and again Thursday. Two of my aunts thanked me for coming by with my wife and the baby (who of course loves to entertain everyone). They noted it was a nice distraction for everyone, especially grandpa. Sitting around thinking about how much they wanted Grandma to no longer suffer all the time was just too much the said. I can’t blame them.

Thursday night we got the call that Grandma had died. The story goes that the daughter manning the bedside that night told Grandma she could go if she wanted to, but just don’t do it on her shift. She didn’t want to have to make the phone calls. They were watching the Twins game that night and the Twins have been on a bad skid, the game was particularly bad that night, and my aunt’s shift was nearly over, so my aunt turned off the game and turned to Grandma and noticed she had gone. “The Twins killed Grandma.” and “Why the heck couldn't she just wait 15 minutes?” was the news.

Earlier that day Grandma’s sister had said she had been praying God took her already and that despite God’s infinite wisdom....he better damn well do it already because there seemed no purpose in keeping her here for so long.

All I could think of was that it was about time and if there is some afterlife or not, at least she’s not a prisoner of her own body anymore.

< It's been two years since I wrote | Back on the bus >
Grandma | 17 comments (17 topical, 0 hidden)
I'm so sorry for your loss. by sugar spun (4.00 / 1) #1 Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 02:36:59 AM EST

Your grandma sounds awesome. by garlic (4.00 / 1) #2 Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 03:58:36 AM EST

She really was a rare woman. by muchagecko (4.00 / 1) #3 Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 04:57:02 AM EST
It's really awesome that she didn't put the burden and guilt of looking like your father on you.

Thank you for sharing her with us.

A purpose gives you a reason to wake up every morning.
So a purpose is like a box of powdered donut holes?
My Name is Earl

Sorry for your loss [nt] by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #4 Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 05:56:41 AM EST

It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
What a wonderful story by ana (4.00 / 1) #5 Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 07:18:31 AM EST
about a terrible day. I'm sorry for your loss.

"And this ... is a piece of Synergy." --Kellnerin

peace by joh3n (4.00 / 2) #6 Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 07:18:55 AM EST

I just ate about 7 pounds of meat

peace to you and your family by clock (4.00 / 1) #7 Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 10:27:05 AM EST
we're thinking of you.

I agree with clock entirely --Kellnerin

Bless you and your family by yankeehack (2.00 / 0) #8 Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 10:29:21 AM EST
Your Grandma was a wonderful lady.
"...she dares to indulge in the secret sport. You can't be a MILF with the F, at least in part because the M is predicated upon it."-CBB
I'm sorry for your loss by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #9 Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 11:19:48 AM EST

I'm glad she's not suffering anymore. by atreides (4.00 / 1) #10 Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 11:42:29 AM EST

He sails from world to world in a flying tomb, serving gods who eat hope.

condolences (nt) by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #11 Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 11:44:46 AM EST

[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
I'm sorry for your loss. by toxicfur (4.00 / 1) #12 Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 12:39:39 PM EST
Thank you for the story -- it's beautiful.
The amount of suck that you can put up with can be mind-boggling, but it only really hits you when it then ceases to suck. -- Kellnerin
My sympathies by Gedvondur (4.00 / 1) #13 Sun Jul 11, 2010 at 08:52:06 PM EST
My thoughts are with you and your family.


"Adrenaline dumbs pain" - xth
How's Grandpa holding up? by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #14 Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 08:27:07 AM EST
It's probably rougher on him then anyone. 60 years or so married...

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

Pretty Well by duxup (2.00 / 0) #16 Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 03:02:23 PM EST
I think he has been prepared for it for a number of years now. 

[ Parent ]
Sorry for your loss. by nightflameblue (4.00 / 1) #15 Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 09:33:38 AM EST
And glad to hear she no longer suffers stuck in a breaking down body.

Best wishes to your family and your grandpa.

I'm sorry for your loss. by StackyMcRacky (4.00 / 1) #17 Mon Jul 12, 2010 at 04:11:38 PM EST

Grandma | 17 comments (17 topical, 0 hidden)