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A Bittersweet Exit

It had been two years since I saw my grandmother. She is now 96 and going strong. She lost my mother and her only two sons within these two years. She has one more daughter with cancer who is on a clinical trial to try to allay her fate. And another daughter has been undergoing serious medical problems as well. My grandmother is now acknowledging her own mortality.

My husband and I had been taking my grandmother out for lunch and dinner for three days. We would return to her apartment and visit for the afternoon and part of the evening each of these days. On our last visit, you could see the disappointment in her face when we told her we had to go. She walked us to her elevator and accompanied us to the ground floor where the front door to her senior apartment complex was. She held my hand harder than she had ever done before. At that moment, I knew that she was realizing that this might be the last time she sees me. My husband and I gave her quick hugs and kisses good-bye. I looked back to see my grandmother clenching her teeth hard with tears welling in her eyes.

I’m writing this to advise anyone who may have a strained relationship with their grandparents, warranted or otherwise, it is best to honor them with regular visits and live life with no regrets in this regard. Though I was sad to see what could be my last vision of my grandmother, I can be consoled in the fact that I showered her with regular phone calls, birthday and holiday cards and visits when I could.

Isn’t it funny how roles reverse as we age. My mother made sure my brother and I saw my grandparents and her side of the family at Easter and Thanksgiving. As a young child, the eight or nine months between our visits seemed like an eternity. I was the one who cried every time we left until I was about seven. My grandmother always assured me that we would see each other soon. They came down nearly every summer.

When we are young, it is the not knowing that makes us cry. When we get old, it is the knowing that makes us cry. A lesson learned! I love you, Nana!

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