My grandmother had a stroke yesterday. I don't know a whole lot. I know she has memory loss. I know last night she didn't know who she was and didn't recognize my aunt or cousin. I know she is having trouble finding the right words when she speaks.
I am trying not to get too dramatic or overly catastrophic here, which is hard since my hormones are raging and I have been on the verge of crying all day.
My grandmother is the matriarch of my mother's side of our family. She raised 3 girls as a single mother in a time when that was nearly unheard of. She went through a divorce that left her wounded, and some might say bitter, for many years after. She is a chain-smoker, she eats chocolate like it is the ONLY food group, she religiously reads The Enquirer and watches crime shows on television. She does not knit, she does not bake, she does not put up with B.S.. She loves her children, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren fiercely. She is a force to be reckoned with. And she is partly the reason all of us "girls" can be so sarcastic, witty, snarky, and hilarious with one-another but will also fight with everything in us to protect one another or come to each other's defense. She is not perfect. She is a survivor. And we love her.
I don't know why exactly, because she has had many health issues in the last couple of years, but this stroke in particular, has really forced me to ask questions such as, "next time I see her, will she recognize me?", "Will she ever recognize me again?", "How much longer will we have with her?", "Why haven't I visited more, called more, been more involved?", "How many more chances will I have to reach out to her?", "Why have I taken her so much for granted all these years?"
I don't know what the right response is, I don't know what to do. She is OK for now, at least that is what I am hearing. If I lived close I could just go visit her, be with her, hold her hand, tell her I love her, but she is hundreds of miles away in another state and I don't even know if me visiting or being there would even be helpful at this point. I want to DO something, to make up somehow for all the times I didn't call or write or visit, for all the times I thought she would always be there and just took it for granted. But, there is no real way to make up for lost time. I need to remember this, remember her, remember to be grateful for her, for all her gifts and her faults, for who she is, good and bad, and I need to remember to never forget to tell her that I love her.
Grandma Penny, you are one of the strongest and most stubborn women I have ever known. I love you so much. I am praying for your healing and your comfort.