When I left you last, I was on day 3 of what turned out to be a 4 day migraine. https://k8edid.wordpress.com/2011/06/17/the-pain-in-my-head-is-a-pain-in-the-arse-and-wheres-the-pizza/
On Day 3 I received word that my grandmother was in the hospital and not expected to live. You may be asking yourself “Self, what is that woman with an AARP card doing with a Grandmother still alive?” Good question.
Grandma became a grandma at an early age when her only child (my stepfather) married my mother, who had 2 small children. She was probably 38 or so at the time (my head is still tender and math is beyond me at this point). I was saddened by the news, and then received another phone call – Grandma had, indeed, gone toward the light. This presented a dilemma to me as I received a 3rd phone call. The service for Grandma was going to be held on Saturday and I was 1300 miles away.
I had planned on driving north on Saturday, and by my calculations I could not even jump immediately into the car to reach my destination in time for her memorial. Never mind that I had a migraine and could possibly kill myself and others by even attempting a long-distance trek such as that. I did what any prudent migraine sufferer would do, I popped some pills and went back to bed.
The next morning I debated (as well as I could with a throbbing head and nausea washing over me) about just proceeding with my plans for travel and missing the service or flying to the Midwest, attending the service and flying home, only to turn around and drive north within a few days…..What to do, what to do? In the end, I decided to pay my respects. I booked a flight, arranged a rental car and packed what I could manage given the state of my head (and mind). I am surprised I actually ended at my destination given that I couldn’t see or think straight at the time and was under the influence of powerful drugs. I am also amazed that I remembered to pack underwear and medications, and even managed a suitable outfit.
I loved my grandmother; she didn’t treat me differently because I was a step-granddaughter. She pretty much treated everyone the same – and that is not to say that she was sweet to everyone (or really – sweet to anyone). She wasn’t a cuddly, loving grandmother – although she could be on rare occasion. She often had a sharp tongue and shrill voice. She didn’t want people making a mess in her immaculate house. She was stubborn and opinionated, and looked out for Number One. She feuded with family members and at the time of her only child’s death, was not on speaking terms with him. My grandchildren loved her, none-the-less and I took them with me on my visits.
I gave my grandmother monthly injections of Vitamin B-12. Once when I was giving her the injection, she yelled loudly. I was mortified – every month she received her injection without a sound. Turns out she was only trying to scare my 2 grandchildren who had accompanied me on that day. She thought it was hilarious – and often retold the story. I did not see the humor – but it was classic Grandma.
One Christmas Day I went to see Grandma with my younger son, Lefty, in tow. She met me at the door and said “Duke is dead”. Duke was her elderly dog – and sure enough, he lay dead in a box, covered with a blanket she had crocheted. She asked us to bury the dog for her. Lefty gathered a few tools from the garage, a pick axe, a shovel and proceeded to the back yard where Grandma had a sort of pet cemetery. Lefty could not budge the frozen earth and he and I took turns with the pick ax chipping away molecules at a time until a hole was big enough to hold the dog, the blanket and the box (but only if we smashed the box in). Neither Lefty nor I were dressed for sub-zero outdoor work and our fingers froze to the pick handle. After many hours of pick work, we managed a shallow grave and unceremoniously shoved the box and contents into the hole. We covered the crumpled box, tamped the frozen earth back into place and drug our shivering selves into Grandma’s always superheated home. She was bawling uncontrollably and we (almost) felt bad about our treatment of her departed companion.
Lefty and I laughed about that incident on the day of her service. I stayed a few more days and made a few more memories with my grandchildren. I pray one day they will remember me fondly. And bury my dog if needed.