Thursday, May 10, 2007

Good Grief

Grandmother died on Tuesday. We knew it was coming since we discovered the inoperable lung tumor some months ago, but it seems too soon after losing dad last year. I think the grief of losing her favorite son and her husband exacerbated the years of smoking and let the tumor grow. Dad was my step-dad, so she was my step-grandmother, but that doesn't matter to the little girl who grew up running around her swimming pool and hoping to play Euchre in the basement bar with the grown-ups one day. I never did get to play with them because when I was old enough, I was off to college and then they sold the house after grandpa died.

Grandmother died in Ohio at my cousin's house. She didn't want to undergo chemotherapy or radiation and eventually they let hospice come in and help out. Mom went there this weekend because they said it was getting bad and when I called, mom said she was doing really well, eating, walking and eliminating with little assistance. It's a perfect example of Jia Shen - when a dying person's spirit lifts as the last of their yang qi rises to the surface to leave the body, like a candle flaring before going out. She died on Tuesday after a good weekend and I've been a little shocky since then.

It doesn't matter that she, like my birth father's mother, was an alcoholic or that she might never have accepted myself, my mother or my half-brothers in the same way that she accepted my step-brother, the son of her son. I think I hurt worse because I think she didn't accept us the same way because I still yearn for the acceptance that I won't ever get. Before grandmother died, mom asked her if she wanted me to fly home and see her and discussed me coming for the funeral. Ever the no-nonsense lady, grandmother said it doesn't matter if I go when she's dead. I planned to fly out for Memorial Day weekend if she was still alive that week. Turns out it will be a Memorial Day indeed because her service will be that Saturday.

I don't know if I'll go, but maybe it will be good to be surrounded by family - maybe I'll be able to cry for this cantankerous old woman, for my dad, for my family and for myself.

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