A long and winding road

I can't believe the work week is more than halfway over....not that I'm complaining, of course.

I noticed a few months ago that this guy I work with seems to be off on the first of each month (at least he was for two months in a row....not sure if the "pattern" extends past that)....not sure why I noticed this or why I was thinking about it this evening....but then again, do we ever really know where some of the random thoughts that enter our head came from? (Although I will admit to be endlessly fascinated with tracking them to their source, or at least, their first conscious source)

So anyway, I noticed that this guy had scheduled PTO for the first of the month two months in a row....and that got me thinking of when I was working for a payroll company and for some reason, I missed the last day of the quarter at least twice. And this was a big deal....missing Quarter End (or even worse, Year End) was a big no-no.

But I had good reason. The second time it happened (June 1996) was because I was in my best friend's wedding and had to attend to my matron of honor duties that day.

And the first time - I was driving to New York with my family for my grandmother's funeral.

And this got me thinking of the day my grandmother died. She had not been in good health mentally for years and years - senile dementia I think they called it. For a while, she lived with my parent's but her needs and demands practically drove my mother to a nervous breakdown...so she went to live in an assisted living facility.....but her needs were too great, her self-sufficiency too slight, and she ended up in a nursing home.

The last time I saw her was the morning following the engagement part my parent's threw for me and my first husband. This was sometime in 1990. We went out for brunch with my dad, his brother and his wife, and two of my cousins. Grandma didn't recognize me, and was fairly hostile.

It reminded me of a very similar visit with my great-grandmother when I was eight. She too was in a nursing home, but when she was well, before she went into the home, she used to like watching me dance....I would do a little faux tap dance for her.

Then she went into the home and I never got to see her. Kids my age weren't allowed up on the floor where she was kept. But, I begged and pleaded, and my grandmother, who was a nurse, pulled some strings and got me up to see her.

My parents warned me that she wouldn't recognize me - but it still broke my heart when I did my little tap dance for her and she yelled at my grandmother, not knowing who I was. I think she was even afraid of me.

And when I saw my grandmother that day at the Hilton, it brought back those memories of seeing my greatgrandmother in the nursing home.

And I never saw my grandmother again.

Flash forward six years: Grandma was still in the nursing home, not doing well. She was refusing to eat and the decision was made not to force her, not to put her on an IV, not to put her on life support, to let her go.

A few days after my mother told me this, I decided I needed to see her before she died. I called the nursing home at 2pm and said I was Rose S's granddaughter and I wanted to see my grandmother and when were visiting hours over (I lived in Virginia at the time and she was in Maryland....I wasn't sure if I could battle DC Beltway traffic and get to her before visiting hours ended and thought I might need to leave work early)

The nurse who I spoke with paused a moment and then put me on hold, and I knew in that moment I was too late...and sure enough, a few moments later, another nurse comes on the phone and says, "I'm sorry, your grandmother has passed."

I thanked her and hung up and collapsed into the arms of my boss....she held me and soothed me as best as she could, of course....and no one minded that I had to miss Quarter End that quarter.

I hadn't thought about that in years, but tonight, while making spaghetti, a random thought about Chris (the guy who missed the first of the month two months in a row) led to me sobbing like a baby, overcome with guilt, grief and shame....and fear.

I have three major fears, ranging from the very concrete (fear of spiders) to somewhat less solid (being buried alive) to the totally ephemeral (growing old and ending up like my grandmother and great-grandmother)....but....added to that list of fears....seeing MY parents' downward spiral like that.

Note:  This is something I wrote quite a long time ago.  I felt the need to repost it now.  My apologies to those very few of you who have already read it already.


Liz said...
February 22, 2011 at 9:03 PM

This is beautiful.

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