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Location: Allentown, PA

I'm a Christian wife and a mom to three daughters and two sons. I'm a member of the board of directors of EmPoWeReD Birth. In my "spare time" I'm a doula, and a certified childbirth instructor.

Monday, April 03, 2006

I've been gone for a LONG time...

Not sure if any of you still read my blog...but yes, I'm still here. ;-)

I'm not even really sure that I can write this post. I've been putting it off for over 3 months now. I'm crying as I sit here now.

The last "real" post I made was on November 4. Yeah, I threw that thing up about Mexican food...but it wasn't "real," it was filler. Letting you all know that I was still here.

What I didn't know when I wrote that post was that my life was going to change very dramatically very soon. And the thing was, I even alluded in a way to what I was going to loose.

A few days after I wrote that post I got a call letting me know that my grandmother had been admitted to the hospital. At 78, nearly 79 years old, being admitted to the hospital happens. But this was the first time she'd been admitted since she and my grandfather had moved out of their home of over 40 years--a house that they had built, even living in the basement while finishing the first floor--and into a cottage in an assisted living community nearly 2 years prior. They'd moved because my grandfather was suffering from Alzheimers, and my grandmother from some hip and spine issues, so they just couldn't keep their home up. But my grandmother was a fiercely independent woman, and resented the high cost of living in the community, so in October she had moved them out into a private apartment. So "her," I had talked on the phone with her a week before the move and she seemed as vibrant as ever. But then her hospitalization soon after the move left my grandfather bewildered. So my aunts were having a bit of difficulty with him.

At the time I got the call my husband was recovering from mono (note to readers, you do NOT want mono when you are 44--it hits HARD and LONG), I was recovering from strep throat and perhaps a touch of mono myself. So I was already "down." In the days and weeks that followed we were to learn that my grandmother's condition was "serious," then she would bounce back, then she had perhaps 6 months, then finally the Friday before Thanksgiving we were told that she was worse off than the hospital Dr's had led my aunts & uncles to believe and "hospice care" had been approved for her. We had made plans to visit her over Thanksgiving when we found out that she had 6 months. When I got the call on Friday I spent some time crying with my husband. Somewhere deep inside I was sure though that I would see her the following Wednesday, and she wouldn't be *that* bad, and we would laugh, and hug, and talk like we had so many times before.

Stepping back a bit here...you need to understand that I haven't seen my mother since 1996, I have no idea where she currently lives. I met my husband in 1997. I also didn't see my mother from about 1978 until the day I graduated from high school in 1990. I had lived with my grandparents from when I was about 6 months old until I was about 5. When I struggled through years of abuse, I dreamed about running away to her house--even when her house was 350 miles from mine, I tried to calculate whether I could ride my bike to her house--could I tote enough food and a tent to make it? (Perhaps its good that I only recently learned about a man who ran home from college after he graduated--from Boston to Florida. That would have given me encouragement to try the bike ride!) While I was in college my grandparents house was my "home base." My grandmother was the first and only person I ever called "Mommy." She was my mom in the truest sense of the word. She loved and nurtured me, even when she knew my deepest, darkest secrets. She knew things about me that even my husband does not know.

So I got that call on Friday, and I was devastated. I cried to my husband that I wasn't sure how much more I could handle it...I did not want her to die, but the lingering illness was torture. What I wanted was not for her to die, but for her to miraculously recover!

On Monday she turned 79. That day I got a second phone call from my father to let me know that she wasn't doing well, he had called her to talk to her from his retirement home in Florida. By this time we had talked on the phone 3 times in one month, where as it is "normal" for us to go over a year between phone calls. I could hear the pain in his voice--a man that usually doesn't show emotion. He made some comment about "if you talk to her on the phone..." I don't remember now what it was that I was supposed to remember...I just know that I never even considered calling her. I'm not a "phone person," and I was going to be seeing her on Wednesday, so why go through the awkwardness? Oh how I regret that!

Wednesday was a short school day, so we intended to send the kids to school, then head out as soon as they got home. It was "grandparents day" in the second grade, and my daughter Jessica was eagerly anticipating her Nana & Poppop (my husband's parents) attending the festivities. Not quite 10 minutes before I would have left to take her to the bus stop, my father called. I knew when I saw his number on the caller ID what he was calling to say. There was just no other reason for him to be calling me so early in the morning. With a shaking and reluctant hand, I picked up the phone.

She had died in her sleep. I struggled not to break down crying right there...I didn't want to send my daughter off to school with the knowledge that her greatgrandma--who she loved--had died. I ran up stairs and threw myself into bed with my husband and sobbed. Getting a quick cry out of my system, I cleaned up my face, and went back downstairs. I quitely and perhaps somewhat robotically got Jessica to the bus stop, then broke down on one of the other mom's shoulders as the bus was pulling away. Jessica had questioned what was up with me, and I told her that I was just sad, and she shouldn't worry about it. She relayed this to her friend on the bus (the daughter of the mom I cried with), and her friend wondered if someone had died. Jessica told her that greatgrandma was very sick...but didn't really think that was it.

So we did go out to visit family...but for a funeral rather than to see my grandmother alive one last time. Because of the Thanksgiving holiday we had to delay the funeral longer than originally anticipated...it was not held until Monday, which was ironically my sister's birthday.

I then proceeded to fall into a period of depression. I tried to tell my Dr. about it, and he brushed me off..."call me again if you are still feeling this way in 2 months." I had just told him that I had lost the person who was most important to me in the world besides my husband and kids, and that I couldn't find the strength or energy to take any joy in the Christmas season or to do the necessary preparations. His response was completely inappropriate, though I did not realize it at the time. I'm coming out of it...am I totally out of the depression? I don't know. I have my moments.

And writing this blog...tough. I've gone through many tissues. I have not written it because I knew that to do so I would have to REALLY acknowledge my grandmother's death. Even as I wrote, I found myself so many times mentioning her in the present tense.

As for the allusion to her in my November 4 post...I mentioned at the end of the post 2 little girls and water on their bedroom floor. One of my grandmother's favorite stories to tell was about my sister and me "washing" our bedroom floor. She was sick, and had decided to nap while we did. We woke up, and she could not be roused. We wanted to help her, because we knew she was sick, so for some reason we decided to the washing our bedroom floor--which was linoleum--was just the thing to do. So we rummaged through our toy box and got out buckets. We filled those with water in the tub across the hallway from our bedroom, and carred them back and threw the water on the floor. Of course we hadn't picked up any of the MANY toys off the floor before doing this. And there was carpetting (red & orange & yellow & green shag--it was the 70's!) in the hallway, with one of those transition strips in our doorway. So we managed to get about 1/2" of water across our whole floor before our father came home from work and found us. And my grandmother would not let him punish us, because our motive was to help, not to be mischevious. Of course he still had to clean up the mess! (Yay grandma! Of course I would suggest that my sister and I should have been involved with the clean-up efforts.)

Ironically, I had a "bathtub" incident on Tuesday evening before my grandmother's death. Perhaps God's way of continuing the story to the next generation? I don't know. I wanted the kids to get a bath before our trip...and my husband works nights so this can be quite the task. I washed the boys. I took Sean, then about 22 months old, out of the tub and got him dressed in his bedroom while Jason continued playing in the tub. Once I got Sean into his PJ's he happily dove for his pillow and snuggled in...until he noticed that the bedroom door was open. Before I could react, he jumped up and ran from the room, and got right into the tub, PJ's and all! What a kid!

When I was in college and would visit, I would cringe in embarrassment as my grandmother bragged to anyone who would listen about "her granddaughter, the chemistry major...she'll analyze what's in those hoagies for you..." I'd both look forward to and dread the dozens of cookies she'd have waiting for me to frost at Christmas. Now I'd give anything to hear those words, and of course I always knew that she had those cookies waiting for me to frost because of all the years I hadn't frosted cookies as a child.

So to Grandma D, who taught me about sacrificial motherly love, sewing, cooking meatloaf and monkey bread, proofing yeast, picking vegetables from the garden, manograms, and so much more, who loaned me books ranging from The Handmaiden's Tale to Reclaiming and Championing your Inner Child, who always reminded me to "fight nice!" ... I love you, you will be in my heart forever!


Blogger TulipGirl said...


6:15 PM, April 04, 2006  
Anonymous cjmr said...

Anything I tried to come up with to say just sounded so completely inadequate.


5:52 PM, April 05, 2006  
Blogger candleman said...

Hi Sweetie,

I am glad you are emerging from your sorrow, and working through your grief. Your love for your Grandma was deep, and it takes time to grieve. Now that you made your post, I’ll be working on mine.

Now I hope to see some more posting here, with your cogent, well thought out treaties on children, parenting, birthing, discipline, and Calvinism… whoops… that would be me;)

Love you!


8:38 PM, April 10, 2006  
Blogger TulipGirl said...

Just checking in. . . *hug*

7:07 PM, April 19, 2006  
Blogger Jenn said...

Thank you Tulip! I was actually in the hospital when you posted your last comment. Check out my latest blog post...

12:41 AM, April 22, 2006  

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