A year ago today, November 1st, my Grandma passed away at 87 of Parkinson’s disease/old age/various other factors. She lived up in Olympia, so I’d only see her a couple times a year, but she probably cared about me more than anyone else ever has. She supported and loved everything I did. She loved hearing me play instruments and she loved the art I did. She’d always like when I made her drawings. She hung them all around her house and told everyone about them. She remembered my birthday every year for as long as she could. Her mind started slipping on and off long ago. But still, she truly loved and cared about me. When ever I’d come over, she’d have a cake or some kind of treat for my brother and I. She always encouraged me to be whatever I wanted to be and to never give up the things I love.
When I visited her for the last time in July last year in her retirement home, she was in her wheel chair staring at the TV. She could hardly move, you could see how quickly she was slipping away. After not seeing her for years, it was so… different. She had a lot of crazy thoughts. She’d have random memories from long ago, but couldn’t remember her name and things like that. When we walked in, it took her a few to figure out who my dad, her son was… who she’d seen quite frequently, as he helped take care of her. But then when she just heard my brother and I, she asked “is that Ian and Vanessa?” It was truly astounding that she instantly knew who we were. She hugged us (as much as she could) and asked coherent questions that actually made sense. She asked what instruments I played now, and all sorts of things about my brother and I’s current lives. The fact that after everything, and how scattered her mind was, she remembered us so much more clearly was truly remarkable. That’s how I know she truly cared and loved us.
I remember a couple of days before she died, my friend and I were having a conversation about something death related and how someone was really sad over someone they barely knew who died. I said “I haven’t had anyone that I’ve known die ever since my grandpa in elementary school, so I can’t relate.” Bad timing. But that made it hit just that much harder.
At her funeral, I proved a lot to myself. When my grandpa died when i was a kid, I cried every day for a long time. I didn’t even cry at my grandma’s funeral at all. Not because I loved her less. I knew her better even. But, being older, I knew she wouldn’t have wanted me to be sad or crying, so I didn’t allow myself to cry (not an easy task at a funeral). I feel ashamed now almost crying about anything else. But seriously, that day I learned just how strong I can be, and how I can feel okay even when things are shitty. It’s been hard to remind myself of that, but I’m trying. After she passed away, I was probably the most positive I’ve ever been. I need to gain that back. I know she’d be proud.
Even though the one who probably loved me most is gone, I will never forget her (or my grandpa who has a whole other story and inspires me very much). I will try to convince myself to stay as strong as I can no matter what.
Rest in peace Grandma R. I love you <3