The Hard Truth


The hard truth is, Grandma is going to die.

On days like today when she is feeling a little under the weather it seems so close, so real and so terrifying it almost suffocates me.  I watch her struggle to get up…struggle to navigate her walker and struggle to sit back down.  I hear her falter as she’s trying to formulate a sentence…losing track in mid-stream and just not having the energy to pick it up again.

I become a little extra attentive on days like today, offering what I can.  Mostly I just tell her I love her a lot and feed her full of the goodies she enjoys so much.  But I know that our days together are coming to an end.  It may be weeks or months off, but it could happen at any time.

Really, she’s no different than the rest of us, it’s just that the signs are more apparent.  Anyone who’s lost a loved one knows that it can happen to anyone, at any age, at any time.

My Mom died suddenly at 62.  I never got to say goodbye.  Not really.  I did tell her I loved her the last time I talked to her…but I never got to thank her for being the best mother she knew how to be.  That through all her faults and mine, I cherish those parts of her that she imparted to me.

I want to thank her for being the fallible, overly-trusting, funny little lady who took in strays of all kinds, from kittens, to skunks to the occasional wayward meth addict. (I could have killed her for taking in that meth addict.)  But mostly, I just want to thank her for loving me.  My family has dysfunction like any other family, but through it all, I never, ever felt a want for love.  And that is something to be thankful for indeed.

As I sat on the edge of Grandma’s bed tonight holding her hand and watching her drift off to sleep I thanked her.

“For what?”

“For being my Grandma”

“Well, without me, there’d be no you!”

No, and without her I also wouldn’t have my sense of humor or my love of words.  I wouldn’t have been raised by a mother who showed me through her example what it means to be compassionate and selfless.

The hard truth is, we’re all going to die.  But no one else is going to have your life.  Use it well.

Holding Grandma's hand.

Holding Grandma’s hand.

4 thoughts on “The Hard Truth

  1. Donn

    Well now, there I go, starting my day crying.

    I was there for the last two years of my father’s life. Before then we lived apart; he in the Bay Area and me up here, in Seattle. Like you, I was dedicated to making his life as good as was possible. He declined in steps, little baby steps, but the decline was clearly there. He went from some status quo of being mostly comfortable to being very tired. Then he started losing things, like Norma is doing, in some logarithmic curve of decline.

    I won’t share everything here, because I don’t want to paint a harder picture than you are facing. I just want you do know that, we he was closing down his life, Denise and I did everything we could for him. He said, very close to the end, that no one could have treated him better, that he was grateful beyond his capacity to express.

    Keep on your path, Rob. Norma deserves it and, hard though it may be, you can do it.




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