I have a confession. The topic of this post was not conceived while pounding the pavement or traversing the trails. This post is included in a blog about running because I would not have been able to manage the crippling situations detailed in this post without the countless therapeutic miles spent putting one foot in front of the other in the name of that enduring effort: the run.
As a little tyke, the highlight of my customary summer education sabbatical was the trip to Pop and Gram’s house. Days were spent trying out new places to eat and traveling about the northeast. These trips were priceless, if for no other reason than they afforded my Pop and Gram the opportunity to tell me an anthology of their greatest hits (and some lesser known hidden gems). I’m sure such a vignette strikes a cord with anyone who has listened to their family elders wax poetic about, “the good ole’ days.”
I remember one such vignette about an occasion wherein my Grammy was very ill. I was quite young when this story was told and I didn’t retain Grammy’s ailment; however, I never forgot the pivotal portion of the story where she explained that her heart stopped and she was actually gone. Her heart started again and there was some discussion of her recalling a bright place and being able to hear things she shouldn’t have been able to hear if her heart was stopped and she was technically no longer alive. What stuck with me most, and I have no clue why, was this: she didn’t know why. Why had her heart stopped? Why had it started again? Was it because she was meant to be here for something else? What was the purpose? These questions stuck with me.
Decades later, while visiting Grammy in the summer of 2000, she explained when she reconciled the answers to all those questions. She shared then that she understood her purpose was to take care of her husband and son while they were ravaged by brain cancer in 1994 and 1999 respectively. After my Dad passed away, as far as she was concerned, she had served her purpose and was ready to go be with he and my Pop anytime.
In 2006, her health began to decline and she was admitted to a facility to help manage her challenges. As her only living relative, I became her Power of Attorney and began to manage her affairs. This was the beginning of the most stressful and anxiety filled timed of my life. I learned a lot about not being afraid to ask questions and admitting that I have no idea what I’m doing.
During the early phases of her difficulties, when she and I were still able to have effective communication, she voiced questions about why she was still here if she had already served her perceived purpose. I had the same questions and on more than one occasion, I had a few conversations with God that I’m not at all proud of. I carried a lot of guilt wondering if God was trying to teach me a lesson through all this and Grammy was the suffering collateral.
Grammy went through a great deal while at the Berwick Retirement Village. She was diagnosed with breast and skin cancer, she battled low blood pressure and extremely low calcium levels resulting in brittle bones that caused several breaks. Worst of all was the dementia that stole her memories and made her only living relative unrecognizable to her.
On the morning of August 18, 2013, Grammy went home with my Pop and Dad. My fiancé of two weeks dropped everything to drive me the four hours north for me to say good-bye and to start taking care of the business matters. He managed my complete discombobulation, exhaustion, sorrow and distant behavior. He was stronger than steel for me. He showed he was completely my family with the rest of my family so far away.
This may be quite a self-centered concept, but I find no coincidence in the fact that Grammy left two weeks after Brian asked me to marry him. I think Grammy knew her family was taken care of and she didn’t have to fight anymore. Grammy’s purpose was to take care of her family and make sure they’re safe and sound. She left Sunday morning to check-up on Pop and Dad because she knew how completely loved and taken care of I was down here.
Thank you, Grammy.
You’ll always be with me.