I knew when the phone rang at 1:30 in the morning that the news wasn’t good, yet there was a small part of me that hoped it was one of my co-workers calling about an issue with the event we were planning for BlogHer. I’d just left the Hilton two hours earlier in the midst of stuffing 800 swag bags, so it wasn’t entirely out of the realm of possibility that it wasn’t the call I’d been dreading every time the phone rang for the past several months.
But it was that call. She was gone. My grandmother died quietly in her sleep at the age of 92 and I had to pull myself together and call the funeral home to pick up her body. “Someone needs to come and get her,” I was told matter-of-factly. “Do you want to come and say goodbye?”
“No,” I answered, thinking to myself that I’ve said goodbye to her a dozen times these past few months, knowing that every time I left her room it could very well be the last time I saw her. The truth is that I knew I couldn’t handle seeing her lifeless body. I just didn’t have it in me. The woman from the nursing home was patient on the other end of the line as she waited for me to process what had just happened and what needed to be done next. I hung up the phone and autopilot kicked in as I made the necessary calls and arrangements. Then I spent the next several hours in a state of semi-shock, unable to go back to sleep, reeling from the news that I’d been expecting for so long.
My grandmother’s health had been rapidly declining since April, and she was most recently receiving hospice care, so the rational part of me knew the end was imminent. What I didn’t realize, however, is how the finality of the situation would shake me to my core. While certainly not surprising, her death was jarring. It was like part of me was gone too.
When I was younger, my grandmother and I were the best of friends. My mother had to work to support us because my father left his family when I was an infant and split for Florida to spend his days smoking pot and drinking Budwiser out of a can, but I never felt like anything was missing because she so seamlessly fell into the role of my caretaker. We spent countless hours playing Rummy 500, watching Little House on the Prairie and taking long walks around her Jersey City neighborhood. We were like two peas in a pod.
In addition to the time she invested in raising me, her generosity was extraordinary. Although she wasn’t a wealthy woman by any means, my grandmother helped my mother put me through private school from kindergarten through college, chipped in for my wedding and even helped us buy our first home.
In recent years I would bring the boys to the nursing home and watch her face light up when she saw them. The older boys would sit with her and play bingo while my little guy loved to swat at her toes as she wiggled them under her blankets.
My grandmother was a local celebrity at her nursing home, having received quite a bit of media attention for receiving her honorary high school diploma when she was 90. I’ve watched this video countless times since she’s passed and it always brings a smile to my face. I’m so proud to be her granddaughter.
Now that she’s gone, part of my history went with her. While I find great comfort in the fact that she lived a long and full life and my boys got to spend time with her, what I wouldn’t do for just one more round of bingo.
This is an original post to JerseyMomsBlog by FitsnGiggles, Melissa Skabich.
Photo credit given to Rotary Club in Richmond, CA.