Grandma has been living with me for nearly two years and I’ve been worried about her nearly the whole time. When I analyze it, what I’ve been worrying about is that she might die.
My logical brain tells me that everyone dies, that it is inevitable. I know this. But there is an emotional side that rebels against that notion. As though I can somehow take such good care of Grandma that she’ll live forever. I know that isn’t the case.
This whole process has made me face mortality in ways that make me really uncomfortable. I look at myself in the mirror now and it scares the hell out of me. I’m truly middle-aged. PAST middle age if you go by national averages (though only 44% of the way there using the “Norma” scale).
It’s as though I am realizing, for the first time, that time really does keep moving forward and I can’t do a thing to stop it. Through your twenties and thirties it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking “It’s going to be like this forEVER”. Now that I’m in my forties I see the wrinkles and gray hair starting to multiply. I have aches and pains I didn’t used to have. I like sleep more than I used to. I’m not anywhere near the end of the road, but for the first time I can see it from here.
Oddly, I’m not as worried about Grandma anymore. I am becoming resigned to the inevitable. Don’t get me wrong. It’s going to be hard when Grandma passes away. She’s been with me through one of the most formative periods of my life and I am going to miss her terribly.
So why do I worry less?
I think it’s just watching her go through it. She’s not fighting it as much. She’s still not happy about being old, but rather than fighting against it by making herself do laps around the house with her walker she’s sleeping more and more. She just doesn’t have the energy to fight it and is slowly winding down. I am humbled by the grace with which Grandma is slowly letting go. She’s not sick. She’s in good spirits. She’s just letting nature take its course. It’s like watching a candle slowly burn itself out. The flame gets dimmer and dimmer until it flickers and then is gone.
There’s a certain beauty in death, when it happens naturally, of old age.
This chapter of my life started with the death of my Mother. It will end with the death of my Grandmother. From Grandma’s perspective 90-something years ago feels like yesterday. How we live our lives today matters. There is no guaranteed tomorrow. Carpe Diem.