Sunday, November 13, 2011

Losing Cleo

So, I am down to one grandparent. This terrifies me. My mom's mom died yesterday, and though she had suffered from dementia for some time, it was still hard to see her go from not quite all there to not at all here. She was a regular feature of my life, particularly in childhood when she and Grandpa would visit us in Sioux City or when we stayed at their house on weekends and holidays.

Grandma was the one who served me grape juice (a real treat!) in a tiny glass cup for Sunday breakfast to wash down my pancakes or eggs. She'd sit to my right (as I perched on the stool) as we ate. She's the one to made kringla that rivaled her mom's, and she'd bring or send home old ice cream buckets full of them when we'd see each other. She's the one who seemed quiet, but if you listened you could hear the wicked fast wit under the surface. Just enough to make you wonder what snark she kept under raps to keep up appearances. Just enough to know you could respect her brains as much as her cooking ability. She's the one who made our Christmas chili, kept her pop in the garage to keep it cool, and had more craft projects than you could count. I have a little pink cloth travel case that I keep my---girl stuff---in when I travel. I've had it since before I needed girl stuff.

This is a woman who's been part of my life. Even when she was increasingly lost in her own brain with dementia, we'd get these flashes of the old Grandma so we knew we still had her. She may have had the name of my dad and uncle mixed up, but she never lost the ability to return their teasing. She had lost her pristine, kept-up appearance toward the end, but she never lost her colorful clothing choices. Occasionally, she'd come out with a story about her past that was filled with details that were accurate, just before she returned to telling stories that made no sense. But however sporadic, we loved those moments of Grandma. They were enough to get by, but now we don't even have that.

Grandma is relieved of suffering and confusion. I rejoice in that. But I also wish for those old times of my quiet grandma in my house, sewing with mom, going shopping with us, doing her quiet laugh. Those have been memories only for years, but now they are Memories only. That's hard to swallow.

I was blessed with two amazing grandmas, more different than alike, but equally loved and valued for their own strengths. A girl can't ask for more than that, even though she might like to.