Sunday, December 30, 2007

When the Time Comes...

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In Blackwater Woods (excerpt)
by Mary Oliver

To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

My grandma died last night. She was 89. When I talked to her a day or so before Christmas, she asked as she always asked, "When do you think you'll be coming to visit?" I couldn't say. I was prepared to take a leave of absence and help care for her if needed. She'd been under 24 hour care for a couple of weeks. My mom, my aunt, and a few friends were sharing caregiver duties. Mom told me that grandma was more confused, couldn't remember something that happened an hour before, but she could remember big pleasant things, like my calling. Mom tossed out the Alzheimer word, but it sounded more to me like the withdrawal that comes before death. The happenings of this physical world become less important. It also seemed Grandma was getting less oxygen, her lung cancer depriving her of that brain food. Mom told me they had a nice Christmas, with everyone remembering old times.

Now I am thinking about going back to Wisconsin, of visiting the house without my Grandma there. As much as her absence, I am thinking about the dismantling of her house, her big house that she'd always wanted, filled with the keepsakes of five generations. I think of sleeping for the last time on the bed that was always "my bed," and before my time, my aunt's bed. I think of the bed my grandma and grandpa shared for years, and my grandma alone for another decade. Who in my family will take these, or will they be sold, the past lives of these objects meaning nothing to the new owners? So many photos, scrapbooks, pieces of a life, how will they be scattered? We each will receive pieces of her, physical mementos, reminders for our hearts.

My grandma (and grandpa) and their house were always a refuge for me and my brothers. Theirs was a place we could find unconditional love, treats (ice cream every night), and none of the negative judgements. Even as I let her go, she will always be a part of me.

4 comments:

PonyBoy Press said...

Oh, Heidi, this is a beautiful post. I am so sorry for your loss. K

Mon-Mon said...

My thoughts are with you today.

Adrienne Parker said...

Ah, Grammas are so wonderful and I'm so glad yours gave you unconditional love. Sweet post.

max said...

I am sorry to hear of your loss!