Saturday, April 4, 2009

Nan

The world works in mysterious ways, doesn't it? On the way home from the nursing home today, U2's "Mysterious Ways" was on, and I've borrowed the phrase for today because I find it appropriate.

I find it eerie and ironic that the past few posts and books I've read lately all relate to the event that culminated to today: my great-grandmother's passing. It was an event that we knew would come, especially at her ripe age of 89, but you never see it coming until it hits you right in the face.

If you scroll down, the past two books I've posted on both have to do with death. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest takes place in an insane asylum where its patients are immobilized and where their lives are basically reduced to simple living. Very similar to life in that nursing home facility.

After I watched the movie, I sat on my balcony and was pondering the ending of the book/movie. McMurphy's life was reduced to the life of a vegetable. Since Cheif loved him, he smothered him with a pillow to put him out of his misery. Similarly, I am reading Of Mice and Men again through tutoring, something that simply fell into my hands, and George makes the same type of decision. He decides to shoot Lenny to save him for the torture that is about to come to him.

So what am I getting at? Both men have to make hard decisions about ending the life of a loved one. Is it worth living a life that becomes ridiculed or to that of a vegetable? Many people would "pull the plug on me," but that is easier said than done.

I went through all sorts of emotions today, and perhaps I'm figuring it out still as I type out my thought processes. Writing helps in this way. I went through many emotions: Shame that I did not visit. Fear because of death. Grief for her loss. Sadness for family members who would be pained more than I am. But, I also did feel happiness. Happiness for her journey to a new life where she can be reunited with Pop. Happiness for her to live a better life than she was living now. Happiness that she can be free of the pains and struggles of living in that nursing home where she was ill and lonely from the many losses of friends and loved ones.

I mean, death is a scary thing. It's not something that you think about every day. It comes up in movies or books or jokes, but you don't connect death with someone you know, even if they are old. It's that teenager mentality: it can't happen to me. It can't happen to anyone I know. But it does. And it will.

It was hard to look death in the face today. The contorted face is something I can't easily release from my mind. I can't imagine that look being on anyone that I love so dearly as we all sit around it. That will be me someday. It will be you. Who will be there? How will you have lived? I feel the worst for my mother who was there when it happened. That's the hardest burden to carry around. That's a hard trail to snip from trailing behind you.

I was glad to go today, but grief follows around you like a child or pet tagging along your tail. You can divert your mind from it for a while, but it's following. It stays more when you have a deeper connection with the person. I know that this will not last forever with me, but it's here now. It's one step closer to accepting death and tryign to comes to terms with understanding it.

Everything happens for a reason though. Nan was meant to be around this long, longer than Pop. We were all meant to be there today and see her. We will all take lessons from this. Now I take the time to reminisce about my past with her and what I've learned from her. I take the time to recall the happy memories, and even the sour ones, to see how she lived her life and how it has shaped me.

I can see her in the rocking chairs on the front porch of my childhood home. I can see her sitting in McDonalds eating a breakfast she ate every morning with her good friends that have now passed over. I can see her swiveling in the chairs of their Florida condo home. I can see her in the kitchen, cleaning the dishes or preparing some appetizers for us to snack on. I can see her sitting on folding chairs at my softball games in rain or shine, always there to support me as an athlete. I can see her crinkled fingers; I can smell her strong perfume; I can hear her sharp voice making a harsh joke. Despite everything, I loved her as she loved me.

89 years. That's a long time. I can only hope to live that long myself. Even through smoking and many wars, she lasted a very long time. We can only hope to be so fortunate to be as healthy as she was in her lifetime.

And so, I reflect now on her life and the imprint she has made on me and my family members. The end of her life was tough on all of us; some of us chose to distance ourselves, including myself. I feel a slight selfishness when I reflect on this part, but I can't hide the truth, especially right now where she is in a happier place and seeing all that is unfolding here on this plane. I truly believe that she is happier where she is and that she has reconnected with Pop. It is truly a special day for them today, April 4th, on Carlee's birthday, hypothetically.

Writing has made me feel better. It helps release. I said a prayer for her today, hoping somewhere inside me that she would hear it and somehow acknowledge it. Maybe she's even sitting behind me and reading my blog as I furiously type away. But, I try to think that she has better things to do than sit and watch me type in my ratty pajamas. I have pure faith that her life is better; I know that deep in my heart.

Today was a reminder that life is short, even if it is 89 years. I feel that even 89 years is too short to accomplish everything that I have set out for myself. The little things just don't matter. The "things" you accumulate don't matter either. It's like my uncle said, "Her life is reduced to a couple of boxes." It's sad, but does it really matter to fight over a stupid television set or magazine? They're only things, and this life is about the people you know and connect with.

Take the risks and the chances. Go on trips. See people. Make connections. I think I needed that wake up call right now. For stressing over the littlest things, it really puts things in perspective for me. I'm healthy. I have a nice apartment and a great family who loves me. No one has serious problems. I may have trouble finding a job, but it's not the end of the world. I will survive. It will not be the worst thing in the world. If anything, it will thicken my skin and make me a stronger person.

I needed that slap in my face, and if Nan was going to do anything to me, it would be a slap in the face, and I mean that in a good way. She had a harsh personality that you had to take with a grain of salt. But she made me stop my fast-paced life that was filling with worry and really pause to examine life. Stick to things that are important. Don't get caught up in the trivial things. Block out those who don't matter. I think it all comes down to being the best person you can be for yourself and those around you that you love.

How will you make your mark on this Earth? How will you effect others around you? How do you want to be remembered? What do you want to accomplish while you're here? What do you not want to regret? What can be done now, now while you are still willing, ready, and able? What can be learned, taken away, and taught from this? What kind of person do you want to be and how will you be that person? And, what can you still do?

This is what I know now, and I hope others do too. As time goes on, I know that I will slowly lose this drive and passion I feel now. We all do. The drone of the week takes over. Realistically, this will stop me now, but these same feelings will come back. How do we combat that from happening? I don't know. I just need to focus on the ambitious path I feel today without the slight twinge of grief attached to it.

Today I pray, today I hope, today I mourn.

This entry is for Nan. Love, hope, and faith to her and my family.

1 comment:

Diane said...

I love you more than you will ever ever ever know!