When I awoke on Saturday morning, my great-grandmother was still alive.
My great-grandmother raised me during my formative years—from around 2-6 years old. I lived with her and slept, even, on an extra bed in her tiny bedroom. She hung a small poster in her bedroom when I was into ET, and also cared for me when I was sick in bed. She read Bible stories to me before bed, and she taught me to pray.
When it was time for a bath, she would carry water heated on the stove into the tub. For some reason the hot water didn’t work in the tub. There aren’t too many more memories about the bathroom…
Her living room always had room for all my toys. A meal could always be eaten on a TV tray while watching Sesame Street (lunchtime) or Jeopardy (dinnertime). She had German figurines, which I could not touch, and pictures of our family.
Her kitchen was often fragrant with baking. There were homemade doughnuts, and my favorite, molasses cookies. Meals were also sometimes had at the kitchen table, as were some killer games of Yahtzee. She liked Fig Newtons, and they could often be found in Tupperware on top of the fridge.
Her front yard had dirt for playing in, trees for playing in, and willow trees for playing under. I spent a lot of time outside while she sat in a chair, just watching or counting cars. All in all, to my little mind, it seemed like she lived a pretty selfless life, at least where I was concerned.
When I moved away to live with my mother, I’m sure it broke her heart. She knew I was only there on loan, but she poured her life into me. I believe for those few, great years I was her life. As selfish little children do, I found new things to occupy my time when living with my mother, and my visits to my great-grandmother grew less and less.
On Saturday, it had been almost a year and a half since I had last visited her in the nursing home. She had been moved to a home further away from where I live, and, still in my selfish little boy phase, I had not been to her new home. I was preparing to go visit her (a call from my mother last week told me that Grammie was dying) when the call came. I was too late. My great-grandmother died one hour before I was ready to leave.
No, I didn’t get to say goodbye. No, I didn’t get one last I Love You. No, I didn’t live the last years of her life showing her time and time again that I loved her. No, I wasn’t there for her when she died, like she was there for me when I was sick.
But I loved her anyway. I’m just sorry that I was so horrible at living it.