Monday night I was a part of something I thought I would never be a part of. Rob’s grandma Betty, his last living grandparent, was in the hospital for the third day and was not doing well. We were told to get over there as soon as possible to say goodbye. When we arrived the rest of the family, minus Chris, Rob’s brother, and his wife and son, were there. And so was Betty. There she was on that hospital bed limp, pale, mouth open without her teeth, and hooked up to morphine to keep her comfortable.
But it wasn’t her. Betty always made sure her hair and makeup were done and her nails were painted pink. And her glasses. She wasn’t wearing her glasses. She would’ve hated to be seen like that. Anyone would.
We sat around her bed chatting, telling stories, and as time went on her already shallow breaths became fewer and more shallow. And then her chest stopped moving. I nudged Rob a few times. Everyone was still talking. The nurse came in and checked for a pulse, listened for a heartbeat. Nothing. She was gone. She snuck out while no one was paying attention. There was no shift in energy, no beeping machines like in the movies. Just like that, gone.
It was expected and so unexpected that when the nurse pronounced her dead everyone was like Oh, ok. Not really sure what to do next.
I found it very interesting and very familiar that right after death we tend to immediately start dealing with the logistics instead of grieving. Planning a funeral, discussing who gets what. But I suppose it’s all part of the grieving process. I remember after my dad died I didn’t cry for like three days and I couldn’t eat and all I could do was focus on planning the memorial and taking care of other people. I saw the same thing in my father in-law and his brothers that night. I felt so bad, and still do. Nobody saw this coming, and I don’t think anyone expected to actually be a part of her death.Grandma Betty was a quiet lady who hated having her photo taken. Hated. I don’t think I have any photos of her smiling, and that’s not to say that she never smiled, because she surely did. Just not in front of a camera. I remember one of the first times I met her was at a holiday dinner, I think. And we ended up playing Uno after dinner and she kicked everybody’s ass. She was known for her stuffing at Thanksgiving, and her fruit salad (which was my favorite!) that she served out of the best bowl. She was never afraid to say what she actually thought and I was (pleasantly) surprised at her sass. I’m so glad she was able to meet not one, but two great-grandchildren. Max may not remember her, but she was a part of his life. I’ll always remember her pink nail polish and her love of cardinals.
We’ll miss you, Betty.