A month ago I started a post about my Grandma Shirley, who has been in a nursing home since October 2005. I’m ashamed to read some of it now, because it was full of bullshit about putting off visiting because the nursing home gave me the wiggins.
My sister called me late on Wednesday night and said Grandma’s doctor told the family “don’t wait” and that it was a matter of days until she passed away. Laura and I made plans to drive up together on Thursday after work to see her.
My Grandma died early on Thursday morning.
This is the very last memory I have of my Grandma Shirley. She wasn’t sure if she’d be able to come to my wedding (she’s not mobile, and we had to arrange a wheelchair-accommodating van to bring her from the nursing home), but we got her there and she was very happy.
These are some of the last pictures I have of her.
My Grandma Shirley was a crocheter and needleworker who was never without a project. Last weekend she asked my Mom to get her some size H and size K hooks so she could work on a project in the hospital (she had recently been moved). She made ripple afghans for everyone in the family, donated a whole bunch to her church for the needy, and she made me a tablecloth with red cross-stitch style embroidery. It’s on my table now, and looks very festive. When I showed Gram the Lacy Baby Blanket, and she told me it looked good, I was never more proud of myself. If she said it looked good, then I was doing damn fine work.
When my parents got married, 31 years ago, Gram made aprons for my Mom and her bridesmaids.
My Gram was admitted to the hospital 13 months ago for trouble breathing. Within a few days they determined that she had ovarian cancer and possibly uterine cancer. She wasn’t a candidate for surgery or for chemotherapy or radiation treatments, so they slowed the cancer with an enzyme treatment. I don’t know what that means. But the cancer was pretty advanced. It’s amazing that she lived this long. (Of course, she’s beaten every other medical event in her life despite poor general health — overweight, poor diet — and I kind of got used to thinking she was indestructible)
My point, if there is one other than that I have to convey my grief, is that my Gram never went to the doctor unless there was some emergency and she had to go. I don’t think she ever had an annual exam or even a physical since I’ve been alive. If she had, the cancer might have been caught in time to prolong her life, but she kept putting it off.
My further point is this: Don’t put off getting your annual exam. I’m serious. It’s annoying and uncomfortable and makes you feel invaded, but it’s necessary. My next exam is on my birthday. When’s yours?
If you stitch, raise your knitting or crochet or needlework to my Gram, if you could. She was a good woman, and she kept many warm.