On the day of my maternal grandmother's funeral I found out my paternal grandfather was starting hospice.
This was also the day of the Newtown shooting and it was a very overwhelmingly sad day with too much death... past, present, and future.
This Christmas has been the most depressed we have experienced yet (and hopefully forever more).
2 days after Christmas we loaded up to make the drive out to Philly and see my grandfather one last time.
He is 97 and has had a full and interesting life with my grandmother by his side for the past 72 years.
His death is, of course, not unexpected but coming on the heals of my maternal grandmother's swift decline I found my visit painfully sad and reminiscent of her last few weeks. His decline in the past few months has greatly altered him and it is just a sad thing to see. He is staying in the nursing care part of their retirement village and the strain of his separation from my Nana is hard on them both.
My paternal grandmother (Nana) is turning 100 in one week! Remember back when we lived in Asheville and we thought she wasn't going to make it? Well, we were all wrong!! She is a wonder physically and mentally. A real celebrity in the retirement village, let me tell you!
(She'd like you to know she does not like the way her stomach looks in this picture. Nana, I hear you, that's why I'm not in it!)
She still lives on her own (drives in her retirement village... only right turns... she swears!) and walks unassisted. She dropped the little paper flag out of a Hershey's Kiss while we were there and bent down (at the waist!) and picked it up off the floor. She gets up and in and out of the car on her own and insists she must if she is going to be able to keep getting up. And, people, she sews my girls dresses (with french seams!) every year. She also sends them mail every week.
She is the most dear person to me. She took special care of me when I was growing up and a lot of my parenting has been greatly influenced by her.
Also my hoarding.
She is amazing. She graduated high school at 16 and college 3 years later. She wanted to be a lawyer, but her father didn't think there would be much point. She is still miffed at this, seeing as he had his own law firm. She ended up teaching high school English and attending graduate school for English... she didn't finish... she left when she found out her fiance had married another girl!
I guess that worked out in the end, for the rest of us ;)
I'm very worried about how she'll fair after my grandfather passes and worry that, like many couples, she might follow.
I wish I lived closer... I'd visit everyday.
Thankfully, she still has her hearing and spunky spirit and I can have long phone conversations with her. I'd be so devastated if I didn't have that.
Here I am saying goodbye. We had just been regaled with a tale of a 7 week camping trip across the US that she took in 1961 with 3 kids (2 of them teenage girls, no less). Changing camp sites and driving every single day. Sleeping in a tent with 3 kids every night? I don't know if I could do it. She doesn't know why she did... except my grandfather had plotted it all out and she just went with it.
As sad as this month has been, I am so thankful that I had two sets of loving, involved grandparents while I was growing up. They were all such a blessing to me.
Some back in the day photos.
The first is a picture I took of my grandparents 24 years ago while on a vacation to
The Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island.
This one is a picture from a LONG time ago with all of the family cousins.
I'm the girl up front and center, of course ;)