Friday, May 25, 2007

In Memory

I have been reclusive for the past few weeks, and I thought that it was about time that I spoke about what is going on in my life. Anyone who knows me well, knows that my family is a huge part of my life, and certain members of said family have played a strong part in making me who I am today. One of those family members is my maternal grandmother, Granny J.

I have got hundreds of stories about Granny J, from saving my life many times (literally) to falling asleep in fried rice. Granny and I had a very special relationship. Born a little less than 70 years ago, Granny J was a true Southern Woman. She brought herself up from nothing (literally--she lived in a boxcar for a while) to become a force to be reckoned with.

On May 1, Granny thought that she was developing pneumonia, so she went into the hospital. While there, the doctors thought that she may have had a heart attack. Later she went on to have a heart cath and repair of an aortic aneurysm. All the time I was here in NYC waiting to be able to speak to her after she got out of the intensive care unit. Finally, I was able to speak to her.

On the morning of May 11th, I received a phone call that Granny J had a major stroke while in the unit, and it had affected her left side. I was told to come on home. (I had just spoken to Granny on Thursday, and she couldnt wait to get home--She was sitting up, eating, and getting ready to go to rehab from her surgery). Apparently Friday evening she threw a huge clot.

When I got home Saturday afternoon, it didnt look good. She was unable to speak, swallow, move or do anything. She was responsive, but uncomfortable. Being a trauma nurse for her life, Granny had wishes that she receive no artificial nutrition or any life support whatsoever. Basically, for the next week, the only thing she had in her body was morphine. Hospice came in to help prepare the family for the upcoming death, and they were great. I had dealt with them when my other grandmother passed, and knew how wonderful they are.

From May 11th until May 30th, I kept a silent vigil beside Granny's hospital bed. Holding her hand and watching her die. I vascillated between anger and utter peace. There is something very beautiful about letting someone leaving this world with the dignity that they displayed while in this world.

Eventually, Granny J passed away. We told her that we would "see her in the mornin'" and to "go rest high on that mountain"...things we have always said.

Granny J was a very proud and private woman. Her wishes were that she would have no viewing, and no funeral. She said "if people didn't come see me when I was alive, I sure as hell don't want them looking at me when I am dead". With a reluctant chuckle, we all agreed that we would keep those wishes. At some point in the near future, Granny J and Granddaddy J's cremains will be scattered into the Gulf of Mexico off of Gulf Shores--their oasis.

I still have great difficulty speaking about this out loud. I have great difficulty socializing. I rarely answer my phone, and reluctantly return emails. Please understand.


Eileen said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss.
Of course everybody understands if you hole yourself up for awhile. Don't feel obligated to do anything and just let yourself feel all your feelings. This is a very intense time and only you know what's best for you. I look forward to the time I can give you a nice big hug.

This is a very nice post, one she would be proud of, and I feel like I met her, which is a gift from you to her. :)

Castle of Stink said...

I'm sorry to hear about your loss, Daniel. You obviously were very close, and I'm sure you'll miss her.
My thoughts are with you.

Tim said...

Agreed! You stay in your space as long as you need too. My love and support goes out to you. My maternal grandmother and I (Nannie) had a very similar relationship and when I lost her about 4 years ago, I went through the same thing. We are here if you need us. **HUG**

Anonymous said...

My deepest sympathy for your loss. Your grandmother sounds a lot like my maternal grandmother. I lost her when she was only 60. That was over 17 years ago. I miss her and think about her everyday. Her death was the hardest thing I've ever endured. I'll say a prayer for you and your family. God bless.
Nikki in Indiana

The Lanes said...

A beautiful tribute to an amazing woman. None of us will ever forget Granny J.