The last photo taken with the grandparents. Circa 2002.
Gramma died in her sleep yesterday. She has been in an assisted care facility for the last couple of years. When I visited her last, she was lucid and appeared to know who I was. But there was a spark missing from her gaze, replaced by a glassy stare. The doctors said she could go on for years like that so when her husband died at a different facility, she was spared this knowledge, the family seeing no reason to unduly upset her. I'd like to think grandpa got tired of waiting for her and yanked her upstairs.
I loved going to gramma's house. She could always be found in the kitchen toiling away, her cigarettes nearby and a frosty glass of vodka on the counter. Once after playing outside, I had run in and pounced on her frosty beverage, a big glass of water perfect for my raging thirst. I only thought it was water. I took a huge gulp of what must have been gasoline and spit it out all over the floor. How could she drink that stuff?! After that, I learned to stay clear of gramma's beverage. Gramma's house had a special smell which always warmed something in me, and came to represent the coziness I felt around my grandparents. It wouldn't be until I was an adult that I would recognize this smell as "smoker's house". Now my house smells like hers.
I will carry gramma with me. After all, we have so many shared interests. Scrabble, booze, cigarettes, cruises and a penchant for waking up early. These things will serve to remind me of her. And if dying is anything like the lottery, Gramma hit the 6/49. Apparently, she was in good spirits and lucid before sleeping that night, and she simply never woke up. (The nurses can tell by the final pose if the death had come with difficulty.) Died peacefully in her sleep. If only I can share that one last thing with her.
May you rest in peace Grandma, I will miss you.