i've wrapped up my appointment to order my wedding invitations and have headed East to Central Oregon.

where the wild things are.
i haven't been that way in three years and now
it's time.

i've lost my last grandparent.

{just as a heads up, all of the posts i have ready to go for this week are very heavy on family, family meanings, family theories, etc.  lighter posts scheduled for the week of 4/2/12 if you'd like to tune back in then.}

growing up in the military, growing up in my military family, we weren't connected to the extended family.  we moved overseas when i was a few months old and stayed there until right before my 9th birthday.  i remember visiting the states once during that time.

when my mom, sister and i moved back from the philippines (i was 11, i think), and my father stayed to finish his time there, we moved in with my grandparents.  it was scary.  and different.  and i didn't really know who grandparents were supposed to be.

mine had some quirks.  grandma max was ill and spent most of his time in his easy chair, reading dusty, dog eared louis lamour paperbacks and sleeping.  grandma mary spent a lot of time cooking chipped beef on toast and cleaning.  chipped beef on toast, coincidentally, is truly awful, but she also made us butterscotch cookies and served us ice cream and let us watch a lot of nick at night.

while not necessarily warm and overly nurturing, they were mine, and i felt fiercely protective.

grandpa max passed away in the early 90s.

these past few years have been difficult for grandma mary.  as the alzheimer's slowly became more vicious and more focused on stealing her personhood, she lost the ability to remember us, lost the ability to speak cognizant words.  before the alzheimer's became a complete tyrant, after my 2007 divorce, i visited her in the nursing home and we looked through a stack of pictures together.  she came across a few of my wedding to my first husband and said, utterly and entirely confused, "lisa, that's you, but WHO is that man?"  i explained, but we kept having that conversation every time we came to another picture.  tired of having to explain his presence, i finally said, "huh.  i don't know grandma!" and she shook her head and moved on.  that answer seemed to satisfy her.  she didn't ask again.

and now she has passed.

the morning after she passed, i had my first wedding dress fitting appointment in lake oswego, and the owner of the shop clucked her tongue and said in her wonderful eastern european accent, "she is in a better place, now, darling.  a much better place."

normally, i give people who give pat answers like that a big, mean frownie face.  but in this case, anna was right.

grandma mary is finally free of the hostage taker that is alzheimer's.

and a generation has come to an end.

i wonder what mary would say about her life.  i wonder what she would say about growing up in her family, her marriage to max, her relationship with her children.  i wonder what regrets she had.  i wonder what memories she would have held on to.  i wonder what she was afraid of and what she loved.  frankly, i have no idea.  the sum of a human life is entirely too complicated.

but the fact that she is now at rest is not complicated at all.

Rest well, Mary.  It's my prayer that this part of your journey is better than you could have ever expected.

John  Day, Oregon.  2001.

3 comments

  1. Andrea on March 27, 2012 at 11:35 AM

    *confessions of a lurker* I discovered your little spot some time ago from Chelle's blog and have really enjoyed reading your posts. I have a divorce in my past as well as a happy re-marriage - I'm so excited for you and Shoes! At the same time, so sorry for the passing of your grandma Mary. Life seems so unexpected in what is given and taken away, praying for you and your family too.

     
  2. AandW Drive-Thru on March 27, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    So sorry to hear of your Grandmother's passing. HUGS my friend. And I hope this time with your family is meaningful.

     
  3. Lisa on March 27, 2012 at 6:50 PM

    @Andrea: I, too, am a lurker, so from one lurker to another, welcome! Thanks so much for your prayers - I'm just winding up the last of my strange trip tonight and headed back home tomorrow morning. I see that your name is in blue, which makes me wonder if you, too, have a blog, which means I will definitely be clicking on it here momentarily. ;) Thanks for stopping by!

    @A/W: Thanks for the hugs, dear heart. This time with my family was ridiculously meaningful and light hearted - something I so desperately needed!

     


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