Each one of us has experienced something In our lives that has left us devastated, for me It was my Grandmothers passing. She was the person who cared for me part- time as a young child and became my sole guardian when I was nine years old, after it was found I was being sexually abused by my uncle on my mothers’ side of the family. She became a person who made me smile, and helped me through rough times as a teenager.
She taught me how to read, right from wrong, and encouraged me to do great things despite my Dyslexia and Hearing Loss, so when I had learned he had less than a year to live I was heartbroken, angry, and determined to provide her with as much support as I possibly could. In November of 201 2 Grandma fell while getting ready for me to pick her up for doctor’s appointment. It was the first sign something was wrong with her. I found her an hour after it happened. She was too weak to get up and was to disorient to recall who I was.
She kept referring to me as Janice her late daughter who died when she was only six. It took until January for a diagnosis to be found. She had MEDS that had progressed to ML a type of leukemia, with her being In such a ad shape and weak the doctors said it would be inhumane for us to try Chemotherapy, and it was so far progressed it wouldn’t extend her life by much, and what life she had should be cherished now Instead of sitting and feeling Ill by medication to only prolong her life by feeling Ill and miserable. I was terrified of losing my Grandma, what if could not make it on my own in the world?
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I felt I still needed her guidance and love; that I was unable live in a world that terrified me so much, it’s hard to admit you’re afraid of so much when you’re twenty-six years old. The anger ate at me, and I often wondered how I could go about my day with out feeling anger for having her taken away from me, she was eighty-six years old, and surely she could live another 10 years. I was upset and found myself angry with my half-sister who had four beautiful children, who weren’t even related by blood to my grandma, The woman who took such good care of me as a child was never shown just how much she meant to me.
She knew nearly all my secrets and held on to them so tightly. Nevertheless, I felt angry, depressed, and was even more determined to make sure her that leading up to her death, I would dedicate all my time to making sure she new how much she meant to me. She spent her first few months after being diagnosed In a nursing home. She begged and pleaded with my dad to take her home; she missed her books and her 1 OFF wasn’t eating, and unable to recognize, or think clearly some of the time. I think it was hard on my Dad to see his mom dying.
It was hard on all of us, but to me she was my mother now too, and rescued me from an awful past. I made the decision to bring her home, back to her apartment where I was living alone surrounded by all re things. I pleaded with my dad for him to release her into my care, and after several weeks of trying the day finally came. She was heading home; she was thrilled, and all the while I couldn’t stop to think of what was to come. Taking care of someone who is terminal is a big choice and responsibility.
I made the choice because she took care of me, and I felt she shouldn’t spend her last months surrounded by strangers who neglected her. Often I would be at the nursing home, and find her sitting in soiled sheets, needing personal assistance with grooming, and thirsty with an empty cup sitting beside her bed. I came daily, several times a day, only to find the same things even when I talked to staff at the nursing home. She was never bothered with the neglect, even when she was lucid she would shrug her shoulders and simply state they were busy.
When I asked if there way anything she liked it was simple things, someone to paint her nails bright red, her favorite color, maybe someone to sit and talk to her or simply watch golf, things that were familiar to her. We ignored the elephant in the room, the thought her dying, I wouldn’t allow myself to focus on it. I made sure that ever moment I spent with her I filled with memories, we talked about secrets, she hardly remembered me, but she still remembered all her secrets. I learned so much about her life as a wild child running off to marry a man in the US Military.
How her family forbid it being they were immigrants right before WI. So much history was lost along with my grandmother’s death. My grandma was of Germanic decent and spoke English, Japanese, American Sign Language, and German all fluently by the time of her death. Her death didn’t come as a shock by any means; it did not sneak up on me. I knew that night she would be gone by morning, and so did she. It was Monday night September 17, 2012 that we were watching TV together in her room. She could no longer walk; she went from bibs to 91 lbs in 9 months.
She looked over at me and said, “I’m going to die tonight. I can feel it, Janice. ” I didn’t try to comfort her, or tell her no she will be fine. I knew Just as well as she did that her body was too weak. She had chose to not have and life sustaining measures taken, I was not allowed to perform CPRM, she would not be on oxygen, and she would not have a gastric feeding be or nasal-gastric feeding tube. She did not have any food in probably two days, when you are dying your body shuts down slowly, and you require less, and don’t feel hunger.
I simply responded back with, “l know Grandma, do you want me to stay in your room tonight with you? ” For which she simply stated it was time for me to go to bed. She died early the next morning in her sleep September 18, 2012 approximately 4:AMA. I had always teased her that if she was going to die she better do it with a smile on her face, and when I found her she seemed so peacefully asleep with a mark placed on her face. Her death affected me in so many ways.
I won’t ever forget what it was like to care for her and be her hospice nurse, friend, and family. I did it on my own. The worst fear. I learned I had strength and courage, that I could face things that ultimately scared me to my core. She had always wanted me to go to college and become a nurse, and reminded me that often when she recalled who I was. I know that I have the emotional strength to become a nurse, but I rather teach. We always had English in common; she would have me practice spelling, writing, punctuation, ND even grammar with her.
She said if I could not hear the world completely, or ever learn to speak my mind through my slight autism, then I need to be able to write it, and write it well. My ability to convey myself in English both written, and orally where her main goal when raising me, and I hope that for some other person who has struggled so hard in the beginning of their life I can help them to convey their emotions and thoughts as well, because with out her teaching me to read, write, and understand love I wouldn’t have become the selfless person I am today.
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