Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Hello, it's time to go

There are times when one realizes that one is experiencing something profound.

On Saturday I sat with my Gran for two hours by myself, a peaceful interlude that fortune had granted.

I held her warm hand tightly in mine for a long time, and spoke into her ear, telling her of my love for her; telling her of my sister's love and affection and sorrow; reading Gran a letter from my sis, and describing the outrageous curls that have sprouted from my nephew's head.

I read her the paper - the Globe and Mail - choosing stories that I knew in another time would spark interest or scorn; stories of the Canadian military in Afghanistan, of the new books from Canada's best authors, of the increasing cases of teen violence in Canada.

I kissed her forehead and encouraged her to cough to clear her throat, the way my Uncle and Father had taught me. I gazed at her with the care worker on his hourly visits, standing silently together and watching her laboured breathing.

Sitting in the sunshine beside the bed, I thought a lot about my incredible Uncle and Aunt who cared for Gran with such humanity and humour, such selflessness. I pondered on the hundreds of hours of their lives that they committed to Gran's comfort and health. I thought of my father who had lost his own father, then his eldest brother, and now faced the loss of his mother. I thought of my mother, who lost her father, mother and sister in a cruelly-short span of time. I put myself into her shoes and the enormity of such loss weighed my head so that it hung dead weight between my shoulders.

I thought of my other grandparents, amazing people each, all unique individuals whose personalities have entered me through my parents, all of whom have been gone for so many years and whom I suddenly missed so terribly.

Then I took a picture to remind myself of these moments, of Gran's snowy head lit by the sunshine in the still room, and the chair where I, and my family members had rested at her side.

I watched her until my Father returned and we sat together, watching a hundred years of life at final rest. We watched her until my Aunt and Uncle returned, and then we took our leave, with a final kiss and a last "I love you" spoken into her ear.

Hours later, my Uncle and Aunt having sat at her side for the rest of the day, and while I stood on the deck of a retreating ferry - gazing at the remnants of a spectacular sunset over her beloved Vancouver Island - my gran breathed her last.

(sent wirelessly from my phone)


Robin and Raenelle said...

Hoto, thank for writing what has been buried in me, amongst the relief and thanks for such a peaceful passing.

Granny is gone, and while I will continue to miss her, I'm also so grateful to have been given the gift of such an incredible mentor for my first 34 years.


cathy said...

We are so sorry to hear of your Grandmother's passing. We know how difficult this time is for you and your family.
Our thoughts are with you.
Greg and Cathy

Sparx said...

Hey Hoto, this is really lovely and thank you so much for posting up the photograph, it is a very evocative shot.

What an amazing woman, hey?

Suki said...

What a beautiful, touching, serene post.

She is at rest, may she rest easy, and may you treasure her memories as you move forward in your lives.

Thank you for writing this.

Ms Anonymous said...

Hey Hoto, I read you via Sparx, am super sorry for your loss. It looks like it was a nice day when she chose to leave. Hope you're doin ok.

DJ Kirkby said...

Tremendously beautiful writing about the sunset of an exquisitley important life.