I just got word this past weekend that my paternal grandmother has died. I do not feel sad at this occasion but rather a great relief for her and my family (immediate and extended), who have been unwavering in their care for her and support of each other. Her last decade of life was filled with so many changes that were out of her control: the necessary move from her home and constant companionship of her sister, the eventual diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease and its cruel and rapid removal of all of her memories, language and ability to care for herself and finally the heart failure that brought her death, early on Sunday morning.
She was a feisty and independent woman and I am sad to say that I never grew to appreciate that side of her as much as I should have, and my early interactions with her were ones of fear of knocking over glass vases and pricey trinkets that sat on special shelves and in display cases around her sitting room. She had a good eye for design and some of her furniture, purchased in the 1950's, would not look out of place in the design showrooms in London, today.
By the time I grew up and was no longer scared of her, she was already in quite poor health, and so I never had the types of easy adult discussions with her that I had with my maternal grandmother, who had died over a decade ago. I would like to think that other people can remember Kathryn for the true character she was and celebrate her life.
What I do know is that my father, the only man in my life that I love and trust implicitly has lost his mother. I know that my grandmother adored her sons, but it was evident that my father held a special place in her heart - he could do no wrong in her eyes. In his efforts to do things for his mother, she often lashed out at others, blaming them for the actions of my father. I don't blame her, though, she was abandoned by every man in her life, and she really didn't want to alienate any others, I think. For her to be able to love my father without reserve makes me love her more than fear her. The last time I saw my grandmother was about a year ago. My father drove me to the care home where she was living out her last days. There was no recognition of me, nor of my father. However, she did smile when we held her hands and brushed the wispy, cottony hair off her brow. The eyes that twinkled with mischief were cloudy and tired. I wished so many things for her, but mostly that she didn't have to die this way - slowly and very much alone in her head.
It's over. Sadly, gratefully, and wistfully I say goodbye to Katy.