Monday, April 30, 2012

Reflections on two deaths

Cheerful title, huh?

Andy's grandma died about three years ago. Decades of smoking had robbed her of her health and, interestingly, her voice, so that the last few years of her life she spoke in a whisper. (She also had always pronounced my name "Racial" instead of "Rachael," which I thought was funny, and I can do a spot-on impression of her whispering my name, to the general amusement of Andy's sisters.) She went into the hospital with some sort of lump, was operated on and sent to a nursing home to recover, and moved from there to a hospice. We were there a lot in her last few days, and Andy's younger sister was there with us one afternoon. His grandma had been mostly unresponsive, and occasionally would do this terrifying gurgling breath that the hospice workers assured us was normal and much worse for us hearing it than for his grandma. At one point, Andy's sister went over, sat on the side of the bed, took their grandma's hand, and said, loudly, "Grandma? I love you."

And their grandma whispered, "Love you too."

I'm almost certain those were the last words she said.

My great-aunt died on Saturday. She was 92 and was spry enough to have been driving until about a year ago. She was my family's matriarch, the great queenly lady who delighted everyone and held court wherever she was (and there was always a court around her - she had 12 kids). She went into the hospital with "a minor heart attack" three weeks ago and went downhill, then bounced back, then went downhill, then bounced back, then moved into home hospice care. Said great-aunt lives not too far from the Kid, who went to see her last week. Our aunt was slipping in and out of responsiveness, but wasn't reacting to much. But whenever the Kid's daughter, my perfect little niece, yelled or babbled or made noises, our aunt would struggle to sit up and turn towards her.

I don't really have a nice tidy reflection on this. My sister told me about our aunt trying so hard to respond to the little great-great-nice she adored, and it made me think of Andy's grandma talking to his sister. Life and death are interesting things, and love is pretty powerful.

The county said it won't be a problem for us to bring the baby with us to the funeral, even though it's out of state, so I'm grateful for that.


  1. I'm sorry for your loss. I think we shy away from the idea and reality of death too much, generally, and I think it's wonderful that these ladies had loving people around them during that time.

  2. Thanks, girl. It was nice to know that they felt loved right till the end.