Friday, February 24, 2012

Life and Its Many Tangles

You know how when you have a big plan to get something done and it seems there is always something preventing you from getting there? Sometimes it's simple procrastination blamed on the everyday stresses of life and sometimes some big event sets you back.

I had every intention of getting through the first draft of this novel this month. February seemed like a good month and quite frankly, I procrastinated long enough in January (and a bit into February).

And then my grandma died.

It was so fast. I talked to her on a Friday, she was great, wanted to know when I was coming to visit. Told me how weak her legs were getting, it was becoming more difficult to walk. I planned on going to see her that Sunday but then I got sick. (which incidentally I still have not recovered from)

That very same Sunday, she fell and broke her hip. I know if I HAD gone to see her, this very well may have still happened, but it's kind of impossible to not think about. It's funny, you know, as a writer we are told to play the "what if" game all the time, but when it comes to real life, we are warned against it.

Anyway, she was taken to the hospital and was prepared to undergo surgery for her hip. But remember, she was already 86 and had a myriad of other health issues that were a concern if she underwent surgery. But if she didn't, well that could be catastrophic, too.

I went to see her that Tuesday. Knelt beside her, so small and weak in a stinky hospital room that she shared with 3 other people, held her hand and told her I loved her. There are a million other things I wanted to say, but at that moment "I love you" seemed to be enough.

At the time I didn't want to admit, convinced myself she would be alright, but I knew that would be the last time I saw her.

Within a couple of days she developed pneumonia and by Friday she was gone.

My cousin and I wrote the obituary. (which, by the way, was a lot harder than I thought it would be)

The funeral was this past Monday. The week leading up seemed okay. I busied myself with work, teaching, and planning my BFF's 11th anniversary of her 29th birthday. In the midst of all this I was supposed to write a little something to say at the funeral. As it turned out, this was by far the most difficult thing I have ever written. All week, I tried but would get stalled, or it became too difficult to carry on. In fact, I didn't have anything really ready until Sunday night. All I week I tried telling myself I was having trouble because I had so many other things to do. When really, it was just that I didn't want to write it.

I was doing fine most of the time leading up, but the day we arrived in Invermere we were whisked away to my Grandma's apartment to start going through stuff. I already had what I wanted so I didn't think there was anything else I really wanted or needed. But of course, once we started going through everything there were other items I decided I needed to take. I found photos I didn't know Grandma had, I found blankets and dishes and spoons. (Grandma was a collector of little ornamental spoons.)

Everything came to a head at the gravesite. I didn't want to get out of the truck but of course I knew I would never forgive myself if I didn't. It was a small service. My cousins shared memories. I shared what I could despite the fogginess of my own memories.

For the first thirteen years of my life, my grandma was the centre of my universe. She was a mother to me when my own mother was unable to be. She took me to doctor appointments, brought me soup - or a bucket - when I was sick, laughed at my mistakes even while convincing me it would be alright, and shared in my accomplishments.

I wish my memories weren't fogged by the years apart. But the things I do remember, I will hold on to forever.

Grandma taught me to play crib and never once did she let me win. In fact, I never beat her. Even in those early years she insisted I take my licks, pay my dues.

Thanks to endless hours of watching Matlock together, I developed a desire to become a lawyer that stayed with me until I graduated. Grandma never once doubted the ambitions of a pre-teen girl who didn't know any better. She told me I could be anything I wanted. At the time, I remember thinking I wanted to be just like her. Strong, determined, independant, someone who didn't take any shit from anyone. But kind when was needed, fun when it was needed, a shoulder to cry on when it was needed.

Then I moved away. In many ways I felt like an ungrateful child. The years between us grew and we lost touch. The older I got, the easier it became to not visit even when I knew I should. But she never stopped caring.

I saw it in her eyes when I brought my husband to visit for the first time. I saw it every time she laid eyes on Julianne. No matter what I did or didn't do, because of circumstances or choice, she was always there. 

And I saw it in her eyes the last time I saw her, as I knelt beside her hospital bed holding her hand. There were so many things I wanted to say, so many I'm sorrys and thank yous. Instead, our lives were summed up into three little words, the last that we spoke to each other.

I love you!

Now I am slowly getting back into the everyday. And writing. And hopefully now, the words won't stop flowing.


  1. So well said, Robin. Be that woman for someone else. It's the best tribute you could give her.

    Sue Plett

  2. So moving. Your grandma is proud of you for sure.

  3. Beautiful post Robin. Your grandma was a special lady.


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