Visit Grandma

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Even before going to visit her I knew it would be hard to see her there, unable to talk and unconscious. Knowing that fact I talked myself up, sort of a pep talk to myself because I know that strength really isn’t there it’s just I didn’t want to fall apart. I walked in and she’s sleeping there with a look of peace on her face, the pep talk was useless. You would never know she was dying from cancer or that there was any pain at all, of course the drip of pain relief brought that peace to her. The thoughts she was having spoken in a whisper in her sleep.  She said her sisters name a couple times in almost a cry like the conversation was sad or perhaps it was happy, a happy reunion I wonder. The nurse said it’s common for people to think about and even see their loved ones when they are in that state of mind, when they are dying, and my uncle cried at that last word. I wonder if up until that moment he hadn’t grasped the idea of her dying.

As I sat there talking to my uncle the nurse came in periodically to check on her and answer any questions we had. She really was a nice lady and so helpful. Not impatient and put off like some people might be in that situation where they are forced to care for a dying person they don’t even know or love. Her words were comforting and seemed sincere.

After a while I walked up to her bed and leaned over kissing her cheek. I said “grandma this is Vince, I love you” and she heard me. Trying to lean forward like she was listening hard, opening her eyes just a little the way you might do when you want to wake up but you’re so tired you can’t fully open them all the way; she whispered “I love you Vicente.” Those were the last words I heard her speak. Two days later my brother called me and said she was gone.

Today I planed to go visit her grave. It’s not the first time I’ve made those plans and won’t be the last but I still can’t bring myself to go. Even now I think I could just go get dressed and do it but I don’t know what I would say. Besides if I can’t pull myself together at the thought of her how much worse would it be when I am standing there?


Grandma’s House


Yesterday I visited my dad, aunt and uncle at grandmas house in Jackson. My grandmother passed away three years ago but I’ve always called that house “grandma’s house” and that’s what it will always be no matter who lives there or the fact that she’s gone now. When I say it in front of family they don’t think twice about it either so I believe they see it as her house still too. When I do visit, my mind is always flooded with memories of the past which is not surprising because I tend to do that in any place where I have some memories. I can sit anywhere in the house and picture it so many years ago being a home full of people when the place was so alive almost like a small city. There were uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers and sisters at times distant relatives and even friends that were considered family. The home has six bedrooms and at one time they were each occupied with people. Those were great times.

Before going to visit I called my dad and told him my brother and I were going to grandmas to visit and asked if he would come over too. I also told him I wanted a picture of grandma to copy and take back home. When we arrived my aunt already had the pictures out in the dining room and there were a lot of them too . A huge plastic bin and canvas bag full of albums, sleeves of photos were sitting on the floor near the table. As I started to look at them I thought it could easily take two days to look at each one but we all just kept going. There were photos I’d never seen and even newspaper clippings in some. My grandma was great at saving memories like that and she even kept report cards of her kids when they graduated some grades and high school. When I would look at an image I didn’t recognize my dad or aunt would tell me the story of that image and telling me about the person. We started at 1:00 and ended after 10:00.  It was great to be there with family talking and that’s something I will do more of I promised myself.

My father told me a story about my grandmother that I had not heard. She grew up in Mexico, I knew that, but at a very young age her mother passed away so she went to live with a family member. At the young age of 14 she married and started her own family doing whatever she could to take care of the kids. I guess back then it wasn’t uncommon for girls to marry at a young age in Mexico. Life was hard for her as she did what she could to feed her kids even walking each day to the mill to have corn ground into flour. Her kids were her priority and that never changed. She raised her kids but really she never stopped raising kids up until she left us. My grandma was like a mother to everyone and over the years each new generation would spend time with her eating her great cooking and being treated like they are her own child. She was great at that.

When she got sick it I didn’t want to face it. To me she was grandma and would always be there over the years never getting any older, just doing the same thing and telling me stories. I miss her cooking, kind eyes and warm heart. Recently I’ve been thinking more about her and I wish she were here right now. She would listen to me talk, offer advice and with her kind eyes I would feel like everything was going to be alright. I can picture us sitting at the kitchen table talking and can almost hear hear her say “hijo don’t worry.” I still remember her voice.

Grandma getting ready to cut the birthday cake.
Grandma getting ready to cut the birthday cake.