inept and inappropriate

Daddy J’s grandma transitioned from this world last week. She was such a fixture in my boys’ lives, especially the older two. When they were little, she always had cookies on hand for them in her kitchen. They would plop down with her and have a little snack frequently during the week. She lived just two blocks away, so we visited often. Once they got old enough to be on the prowl in our town, we’d send them down to Grandma’s with food or photos or flowers from the garden, or just with instructions to give Grandma a hug and talk to her for a few minutes. And, of course, the family gathered at her home during holidays and visits from out of town relatives.

She was a really fascinating woman in many regards. She had a long career as a Hollywood reporter; her Rolodex was filled with names like Sophia Loren and Robert Wagner, and she’d often say things like, “Well, I was just on the phone with {insert famous person’s name} and his daughter’s giving him all kinds of trouble.” Her house was filled with photos of her with various celebrities, as well as interesting stuff she and her husband had collected over the years. At her home, she taught English to Japanese women whose husbands worked at a local industry, and they were devoted to her. Who can blame them? They got to learn English from a witty, fashionable, worldly, gracious southern lady. She ran in races up into her 70’s and remained trim and smartly dressed her entire life.

The will was read this weekend and property was divided. It went quite smoothly, from what I can gather and from what I witnessed. My big boys got a great treasure from her: a real, live dragon egg. It makes me smile to remember them going to visit her when they were in preschool and early elementary school and having her pull out the dragon egg. It looks like a terra cotta egg-shaped box, which opens to reveal a glossy crimson sleeping dragon. Grandma told them quite earnestly that one day the dragon would wake up, she just didn’t know when. They would reverently stroke it and she’d carefully put it away in her bookshelf.

I am a little sad because my husband is sad, and because I am concerned about what this will mean for our family. I want our cohesiveness to remain, even after the matriarch is gone, and I hope that’s possible.

But the inappropriate part is that I am just overwhelmingly happy for her. When the end became near, I could hardly contain my excitement for her. Her body was just all used up and her existence in it had to be uncomfortable, and I felt like I could almost hear this party brewing for her on the other side. It felt like there was a surprise party waiting just in the next room, with giggling people getting shushed and noisemakers and confetti getting passed around. I imagine her joy and relief at graduating from this life with such a wealth of experiences and being welcomed by her husband, grandsons, older family members, and countless friends.

I think I have lost the ability to grieve like a normal person. I’m very sad for the people who will miss her, and I’m sad that little Rainbow and the youngest cousins won’t get to know her, but I’m so, so happy for her.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rachel
    Nov 09, 2010 @ 01:51:00

    Came to your blog from Katie over at Mamapundit, and I’ve seen a few of her posts talking about the imminent death of her grandmother. From what I’ve read, she had a wonderful, long, apparently exciting life (I’m actually quite jealous of her adventures..she sounds like she was a fascinating lady), and in my humble opinion I don’t think your reaction is inappropriate. She knew her time here on earth was complete and she had accomplished everything she was put here for, and I’m sure she had a great welcome up in heaven.

  2. Suzanne
    Nov 15, 2010 @ 03:20:04

    When my father died after a long illness and much suffering, I felt very guilty about feeling mostly relief. Every time we woke him during his last few days he was very annoyed with us, and explained that he’d been fishing with his brother, and couldn’t we just leave him alone? I have no doubt he’s fishing, now, or just enjoying the crisp fall weather.

  3. Mama Jamz
    Nov 15, 2010 @ 22:41:30

    Thanks, Rachel, she definitely was a fascinating lady. It was a pretty incredible life she got to have. I guess I’m just afraid of being hurtful or insensitive to her children and grandchildren, who are grieving deeply. I know I wouldn’t have wanted someone to say to me (about Ward) ‘I’m just so happy that he’s in heaven!” I know they’re different circumstances (the end of a long life vs. the unexpected end of a very short life) but I don’t want to be cruel if I can help it.

    (Which reminds me of my most frequent prayer nowadays: PLEASE, God, let me not be a dumbass today. PLEASE don’t let me do or say anything stupid or hurtful.)

    Suzanne, yes, I kind of know how you feel. My father died after a year of being very ill with a brain tumor. I found myself becoming very impatient in the last weeks: Let him have the miracle healing if he’s going to have it, or please just take him now. It’s so hard to see someone you love hurting with no real hope of a cure, especially when you have faith that good things are waiting on the other side. I like your vision of him enjoying the beautiful fall air and going fishing. My dad is probably fishing, too, and water-skiing, and throwing sticks in the water for his golden retriever.

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