My Dad called me on Monday evening to tell me that my Grandmother had passed away. I had already known she was not doing well for several months with multiple problems stemming from her life long smoking habit. My reaction was somewhat cold and it surprised me if I’m being honest. I felt detached and removed from the whole situation and my expression of emotion mirrored that.
The last time I saw her was over two years ago when I went with my father to visit her in the nursing home. It was Thanksgiving and it was just the two of us. My wife had written off the situation as she has strong opinions about nursing homes and due to impressions over 15 years ago, my Grandmother wasn’t her favorite person. I learned very early what a prejudiced and bigoted person acted like by observing my grandparents. I was able to look past that and worked to avoid topics that would surface the negativity within both of them. My wife on the other hand would be the antagonist and get both of them fired up. Anyway, my recollection of the day is hazy as I found it hard to concentrate. At this time, she had lost both legs above the knee, couldn’t see anything more than a few inches in front of her and was generally checked out mentally. We were there over a half hour and had the same conversation four times.
My only real concern on Monday was that my Dad was okay. He wasn’t. I could hear him fighting back the choke in the throat that most men get when they’re emotional. That affected me more than hearing she had passed. I think my confusing non-emotional reaction threw him off though as he quickly moved onto the planning of the funeral, which is his comfort zone. I know she wasn’t in any pain when she passed. She was a horrible mother to both my father and his sister (my Aunt) and routinely abused them verbally and sometimes physically. His reaction to the events was puzzling until I realized that it was his mother. That fact will never change regardless of past events.
In the end, when he saw her the most vulnerable, I think he forgave her for past events. At least that is what I hope happened, otherwise he won’t ever get past this. I’m not looking forward to the funeral. One line that sticks in my head ever since I saw it was the movie “A Fault In Our Stars” and it goes: “Funerals are not for the dead, they’re for the living.” That makes sense.