Yesterday a piece of my heart broke away as my granny passed from this life. She was one of my most favorite people in the whole world. So many memories are attached to her. So much joy came because of her. She held a special place in my heart that no one else could ever fill. Over the last few years her dementia had worsened and she became just a shell of who she used to be but when she looked at me her eyes were still the same and when she talked to me she was still my granny. Her hugs and winks still embraced my soul, even if she wasn't always sure who she was hugging. I knew who she was. She and my grandpa were married for 70 years (I think) before he passed away a few years ago. During those years they were never separated. They went through life side by side. When she started getting dementia, he was there to take care of her even though he was suffering from cancer. As long as he was in her sight, she knew she was okay. If he got out of her sight she got worried and upset. She never forgot who he was. I wrote this about them a few years back:
Her hair is now gray, her face wrinkled with time.
Her balance has lessened, but her smile is still strong.
A once strong, vibrant person has faded with age
Once full of stories, experiences and memories,
Now only knows the one who sits with her.
Day after day he helps her go through
The daily routines that she needs to do.
He stays by her side so she won’t feel lost
Though feeble himself, he stays strong for her.
With each passing day, her memories fade
Her children, once cherished, now fade with her mind
Who comes and who goes she cannot say
But with him by her side she gets through the day.
Their love has grown strong over many years together
So together they climb through one last struggle.
One fully aware of all that goes on
The other only aware of when he is gone.
This act of true love is a legacy for all
For to love through the hard times and not just the good
Is simple and beautiful and completely pure.
Grandpa lived long enough to make sure that Granny had a nice home to live in where she would be taken care of. Once he knew she would be fine, he quit fighting the cancer and left this world. She followed two years later. Now they are together once again in full health and mind. What a joyous thought!
Granny was the last of my grandparents living. With her passing, I feel like I have lost a part of my life and history. I feel an empty ache for days long ago. Sitting next to her on the couch, the smell of her house when we went to visit, the sound of her southern voice and the winks she always gave to let you know you were special. It had slowly been disappearing over the years as her illness took over more of her mind and that was hard to watch but I still loved being in her presence. I wrote this after I saw her for the last time two summers ago:
"Hey, I know you! How are you, child?" She'd say with a smile and a wink.
Then only like a grandma can she'd hug me tight and kiss my cheek.
Those words were music to my ears. They filled my heart with gladness.
But years passed by and took their toll, her memory clouded by illness.
"I don't know who all y'all are, but I know that you belong!" She'd say with a smile and a wink.
Then only like a grandma can, she'd hug me tight and kiss my cheek.
Those words would bring a smile to my face, but filled my heart with sadness.
More years passed by and her memory continued to fade like a sunset to darkness.
"Now who are you? I think you're neat," she's say with a smile and a wink.
Then only like my grandma can, she'd hug me tight and kiss my cheek.
And I'd smile back and kiss her too with sadness still filling my heart,
But looking forward to the time when illness no longer can keep us apart.
Now I know that she once again knows who I am. She is up there with my grandpa looking down on me here. I can still see her smile and hear her voice as she tells me that all is okay. I look forward to the time when I can once again be reunited with her and all those others who have left this life holding a piece of my heart. I love you, Granny!