Friday, December 19, 2014

Word of the day: catharsis

Catharsis: (n) the process of releasing, and thereby providing release from, strong or repressed

This is a story I don't want to write, but I feel the need to do so anyway.

We've had Granny with us for two years. I'm not going to lie and say that it's always been pleasant and awesome and easy, because it has definitely been hard and frustrating and exhausting at times. She can be unrelenting in her insistence that your way is wrong and in fact there is no right way unless it's her way, but she'll never come out and say that. She'll just gently nag you about it until you have no choice but to do it her way or lose your mind. To quote one of my favorite books, it is a bit like being bitten to death by a butterfly.

Granny got sick two weeks ago. She started complaining about stomach pains around 9 p.m. on Saturday night, and after an hour or so of debating we decided to call an ambulance to take her to the emergency room. I went with her and sat in the ER for many, many hours while they tried and failed and tried and failed to get an IV in her because her poor old veins just couldn't handle the pressure of a needle without collapsing. Eventual diagnosis: pancreatitis.

For a person of decent health who is not 93 years old, pancreatitis is incredibly painful and hard to recover from. For Granny, it was bad. Very bad. After 10 days of minimal to no improvement, she was transferred to a different hospital for potentially more in depth treatment, but by that time she was so weak and so tired that she opted to discontinue any treatment in lieu of coming home to rest comfortably until it was her time to go.

She has been at home for two days, waiting out her time; we have hospice coming by every day to check on her, and my mother-in-law (Granny's daughter) has come to our house to stay so she can be near her mother at all times. We've been told Granny may not even last as long as this Monday, four days before what would be her 94th Christmas celebration.

When my husband and I were at the hospital talking with Granny to help her decide what she wanted to do - not what we wanted, not what her daughter wanted, but what SHE wanted - more than one person borderline fawned over my husband and I about how AMAZING we were to take care of Granny, how LUCKY Granny was to have us, how WONDERFUL it was to see family taking care of family, things of that nature. Please understand: I don't share that to brag. At all. I share that because it was so uncomfortable for me to hear those things. I wanted to push the words away; I didn't want to hear them or acknowledge them, nor did I have any idea how to respond to them.

The truth is, it's been a very hard two years for me. I've not always been patient with Granny; I've not always been gracious about helping her; I've many times had a little temper tantrum in my closet, away from prying eyes, because I just needed a break. Having those bouts of emotion made me feel like such a brat! How dare I be so impatient and frustrated with a lady who has been more of a grandparent to me than anyone else in my life? How dare I be so ungrateful for a woman who has been a faithful and loving great-grandparent to my four kids, all of whom she cherishes beyond measure? I don't know how, but I certainly dared to do both of those things and more.

So, I don't want credit. I don't want ONE. MORE. PERSON. to tell me how wonderful I am for caring for her. I don't want it. My husband can have it; my husband deserves it; he is certainly as patient and unrelenting as his grandmother when it comes to doing what he needs to do for his family without complaint. I just want her to end her days as peacefully as is possible under the circumstances, surrounded by the big and little people who have adored her throughout their entire lives, and all I can pray is that she knows I love her, now and always.

We love you, Granny Nell. We love you forever.


  1. I would just hug you right now and not have any words for you. I wish I could give you that hug. I know we know ourselves in the hidden places and we judge ourselves y that knowledge.
    Don't be too hard on yourself, lovely woman. Love is doing for others at expense of self. Thank you for being you.

    1. Thank you, Laura! Such kind words. I know if you were here we'd be hugging an awful lot. At the risk of sounding like a golden girl, thank you for being a friend.

  2. Blessings to you and your family as you wait for her to step into the arms of her Savior.

    1. Thanks so much, Claudia. I appreciate your kind words.