I have struggled with writing this since February 16th.
You all know that I am extremely close with my grandmother (Gramma Izzie). She is 91 years old, and she lives in her own home which is attached to our small farm; we live just up the hill from her. I provide most of her care and transportation (I’ve asked her to move in with me, but she is independent and stubborn and refuses every time I ask).
Leelah Murdoch and Gramma Izzie having a visit, 3/6/2018
Gramma Izzie has had a few health problems over the years, but the week of 2/12 – 2/16, I knew something was very “off”. Because of Jake having the flu and not being able to be around her, I got my Dad to take her to the doctor that Monday (2/12). One appointment led to another and then another and then test after test………and by 2/16, we were given the news that she has late stage pancreatic cancer and only six months to live. She has refused all treatments and surgeries because she says she’s ready to go.
I am absolutely devastated over this news (as is my husband and as are my children). She is the “ultimate grandma”; when you think of how a grandmother should be stereotypically, that’s Gramma Izzie. She practically raised me all through my childhood as well as helped me with my own children, and she always has an open door in her home for all of us. When the ice storm hit a few years ago, we lost electric for two weeks – and she didn’t hesitate to have all six of us there to stay with her (including two dogs and two cats and a ferret at the time), and we all hated to leave when the electric came back on. When my son was first married, he and my daughter in law lived in her basement while they finished college. When any of us have been sick, she has the old timey cure for it or at least some remedy that will help alleviate symptoms. When the kids got off the school bus, they’d stop there and have a cookie or a bowl of homemade chicken noodles and some “grandma kisses” before heading up the hill to come home. When we told her we wanted to bring back the family farm to what it was 30 years ago, she has been behind us every single step of the way, pushing and prodding and being so proud of every little cleared bit of brush and replanted pasture, loving on all the cattle each time we brought another one home to join our little herd.
I asked for a leave of absence from work, but I am unable to get it because she is a grandparent and not my parent. I am instead spending as much time as I can with her. No matter what I do, it feels like I can never get enough of her time when it is so limited and so precious right now. She’s more than my Gramma Izzie; she’s my best friend in the entire world, and this has absolutely shattered my world. Watching her struggle with the simplest things is the hardest thing in the world. Seeing her unsteady on her feet, unable to eat and enjoy a homecooked meal (or any meal for that matter), hearing her talk about how she just wants to make it long enough to see the roses bloom again………….I would give anything to take this pain and illness away from her. My husband and children and I are completely heartbroken.
Sahara, Teddy, Morgan, Jake, Gramma Izzie, and Janeesa – February 18th
I feel scatterbrained and like I can’t quite keep everything together at home and at work. I’m doing the best I can, but I’m not sure that my best is enough for anybody at this point. I have chart after sticky note after to do list after calendar entry after Alexa reminder………and I look at it and just feel like I will never finish any of it or worse: that it’s too much effort to even start to try to do any of it. On days like the latter, I have to really motivate myself to get even the bare minimum finished.
The day before yesterday, Rory (one of the free ranging farm cats) died, and I was about a hair’s width away from being in complete hysterics. I loved that cat, but even I knew that it wasn’t the cat I was truly crying over……..
Jake told me yesterday, “You used to be an 80% happy mom, but now you’re just an 80% sad and mad mom!” And then he cried, and I cried (some more), and I promised I’d try harder to get happy again. Deep down inside I feel like I will never have another happy day in my life, but I know that’s not true, and I know that’s not how Gramma will want me to live. When I told her what Jake said, she said sternly, “You’re gonna have to straighten up, girl!” She meant it, too.
I’m a pretty happy person by nature so I know I’m depressed right now (who wouldn’t be???), but I have no idea how to fix this because there is no solution. It’s not like she’s going to just wake up tomorrow and have this be gone like she would if it was a cold. As unrealistic as it sounds, I used to tell her all the time that she just had to make it to 120 so that I would be 75 because then we’d have both lived this wonderful long life together, and then we would both just sit down on the porch swing together and we’d slip off peacefully together, but that’s not what’s going to happen now. She’s instead going to go off ahead of me, and I’m going to have 45 more years (or more) here without her, and I don’t know how I’m supposed to do that.
There’s no good way to end a post like this………so I will say this……….
Whoever your people or your tribe are, spend all the time with them you can because when something like this happens, you realize how much you would truly give up to just have any extra time with them at all.