Yesterday, my cousin, Kyle, called us while we were on our way home from Wal-Mart. The plan was to make dinner and chili for Annie’s work and then have a nice evening of watching some more of the final season of Stargate: Atlantis together. When I picked up my phone, I knew right away that something was wrong. Kyle doesn’t call me. He sounded like he was crying. The first thing he asked was where I was. I let him know we were in the car on the way home and he quickly dismissed the call asking me to call him back when I got home.
My mind exploded with all of the possibilities. The first one was that my grandma had died or wasn’t doing well. Then I assumed maybe it had something to do with someone being hurt. I mean, why would my cousin call if my Grandma had an issue? I’d expect it to be my Aunt or my Mom.
As soon as we unloaded the groceries in our apartment, I called Kyle back. He asked me if I was sitting down. He was still sniffling as though he was trying to stop crying. He choked as he spat out the words, “Grandma is dead.”
I lived with my grandmother, Sandra Beryl Adams, during college. First in her house on Robert Wallace Drive that she used as a boarding house, and then in two different apartments. Out of all of my grandparents, she was the one I had the closest relationship to. She was the person that always flamed the fires of my interests. I vaguely remember her bringing Mark and I to an Internet Cafe so I could use high speed Internet. She marveled at what I could do on the computer, and got super excited at the idea of having a huge, relatively easy to search encyclopedia and library at anyone’s finger tips. She ended up getting high speed Internet at her own home fairly early on, making each visit even more fun for me, and living with her during college a treat by comparison to the dial-up my parents had. I always think of my grandma as the rule-breaker when someone mentions that old people don’t like technology.
I didn’t know what to do with the information that Kyle had given me. I knew my Grandma dying was an eventuality. I knew it was coming. I had just recently come back from two weekend trips to Kingston. She had gotten pneumonia and it wasn’t looking good due to her already having COPD and a number of other issues. Thankfully she recovered from the pneumonia, but it was an eye opening experience for my family.
On the second weekend visit, where we were to talk about retirement homes, but the conversation shifted to be a discussion about nursing homes. Before arriving, I had spent around sixty hours familiarizing myself with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and specifically looking for information on mortality rates for obese women in their seventies with an acute stage of the disease. It didn’t look good. My reason for looking up the information was to make sure my Grandma understood that she didn’t need to save her retirement funds for twenty years to live into her nineties, but instead only for another ten years maximum, thus allowing her to afford a nicer place to live with her remaining days.
While living away from our extended family in British Columbia, my Grandma’s gifts were always what my brother and I were the most excited for. She knew all too well that I loved Lego, but that it was very expensive. My parents were good about trying to afford as much of it as they could, but I know that a large percentage of all of the Lego I ever received came from her. I distinctly remember opening a huge box of Lego for my brother and I one Easter while we were in Masset. I don’t know what Lego set(s) we received, but I always think of my Grandma when I see Lego.
The research that I had done said that my grandmother likely had between one and seven years left to live, and closer to one if she was unable to get herself moving. I read a few different medical papers that basically said that if she wasn’t able to walk one hundred meters then she had a ninety percent chance of passing away within a year. Even after reading that, and mentioning it to a few people, I think we all thought we still had a year, from the point of reading it, before we were going to lose her.
I don’t know all of the details of her passing yet. I tried to piece together various details through the night talking to my brother out in Nova Scotia, my cousin, Mark, in Quebec, and my family in Kingston. Everyone seemed overwhelmed by the loss. It is taking me a long time to process that she is gone. One of the strangest things was logging onto Facebook, and seeing her profile picture in the chat area. It was like she was still there. I felt compelled to leave her one last message, and so I did. I know she will never be able to read it, but it helped me start to grieve for the loss. I always thought I would have more time with her, and even more that she would somehow go back to being the grandmother I remembered when I was younger.
When we would visit my grandmother on the farm outside of Cornwall back when she was still married to my grandfather, she would push for my brother and I to help her in her raised garden. It meant pulling weeds and so often my brother wasn’t very interested in it. I’d go out there and for hours she would talk to me about her life, the farm, and the garden and we would eat half of the cherry tomatoes we picked. She was right there with me, eating one off the vine and putting another in the container to be brought back inside. Sometimes, what returned into the house was only a few small handfuls, with the rest already in our bellies. I always think of my grandma when I eat cherry tomatoes.
So Annie has taken off today and tomorrow for bereavement so we can go to Kingston and be with family as we start the process of dealing with what has happened. It is all still slowly sinking in as I consider my life without my grandmother. I have always been slow at processing emotion, and typically it is a helpful thing, but as I talk to everyone and they are crying, I find myself having a hard time doing so as well. I want to. I know it will hopefully be cathartic, but while I can shed the odd tear, I keep expecting her to be in Kingston, waiting to see me, and ask me to help her with a million little chores and favours that she can no longer do.
I miss my Grandma.