A grandmother is a mother who has a second chance

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The "Old" People

Earlier this week my good friend in Tucson wrote on her Facebook Status, "I Miss My Old People!!" I knew what she was talking about - her mother passed away in the Summer of 2008, and her stepfather died a month or so ago.

My hairdresser just lost her mother a month ago after a long illness. And over the past week there has been a man walking by our office who looks a lot like Ed's dad. All of these events brought so much back to me.

My mom died over 14 years ago, and between Jan 2007 and Jan 2008 Ed and I lost my father and both of his parents. All of our "old people" are gone, too. My dad was in a nursing home for over 2 years before he died, and Ed's parents both spent eight weeks in the hospital or nursing homes at the end of their lives. For two years our lives consisted of a series of hospital visits, flights to Chicago, nursing home visits, dealing with mounds of paperwork, knots in the stomach every time the phone rang. It was emotionally and physically draining - and I miss it!

I miss having them around. I miss their stories that they told over and over again. I miss being able to take my dad out of the nursing home and to a restaurant for oysters, white wine, and Caesar Salad. And driving him to downtown Chicago so he could see the buildings and the lights. He so loved Chicago. And Scrabble - up to the end it was hard to beat the guy at Scrabble.

I miss having Ed's dad over a couple of times a week for dinner and watching him enjoy our grandkids. And hearing his great phrases like "tall hog at the trough" and "knee deep in high cotton". And his laugh - boy could that man laugh. Mostly it was silent, you would just see his face light up and his belly jiggle.

I miss Ed's mom with her bright red hair and the perpetual kleenex in her hand. And her bright lipstick. I miss her yelling across the room, "Where's Clyde?" anytime her husband dared to stray out of her sight. I miss seeing her in that recliner where she sat for every holiday and dinner at our house. 90% of the photos we have of her are in that recliner!

I miss my mother's laugh and the way she always said, "Hi, Sweetheart!" when I would call her on the phone, and I could hear a smile in her voice. And how we called each other almost daily just to chat - often about nothing in particular. And how she was able to center me with just a few words. She was my best friend so I lost two people when she died.

I even miss all we had to do at the end of their lives because it gave us a chance to give back to them some of what they had given to us. To take care of them. My dad once said to me, "I hate that you have to do all of this for me." I said, "Dad, you took care of me for 20 years, let me enjoy the chance to pay you back a bit."

After all of our "old people" were gone, I made a separate collage for each of them and have them hanging in our hallway. I smile every time I look at them - and I tear up.

Now Ed and I are the "old people" ! I'm not sure I like that much.


susana said...

thanks sandi, your timely and sensitive writing came at the right time. Please go read my post tonight.

Mellodee said...

I know just what you mean. Besides, nobody asked me if I wanted to be the "matriarch!!" Aren't matriarchs supposed to be elderly, fiesty, strong-willed, white-haired, wisdom sharing, opinionated women? Oh, wait a minute, fiesty, strong-willed? Hmmpf, I guess that would be me!

namaste said...

sandi, hands down, you do the BEST tribute posts in the blogosphere. this is yet another great tribute to your mom and eds parents.

you have inspired a personal post on my political blog. maybe not right now, but soon. i miss my grandmother and this post reminded me that she deserves a tribute. thanks!