Wednesday, October 10, 2012
We just spent the equivalence of your time on a round trip drive to see my grandmother. The trip on the road gave me a lot of Time to worry, panic, think, ponder, wish, hope, and be thankful.
My 92-year-old grandmother was admitted to the hospital about two weeks ago. Her health declined rapidly since then, even after the discharge, as any illness is hard on the body of a frail, elderly person. She had lost some memory and was at considerable risk for falling.
Last Thursday, Dear Husband and I went out for a rare breakfast date, as he is between engagements and not working at the moment. Having just realized that the kids don't have school on Columbus Day, he suggested that it would actually be a good time to drive down and visit my grandma. After some contemplation over my egg skillet and coffee, I realized that we would have about two days to spend with her. It seemed like a doable thing--my only obligation was teaching Chinese School on Sunday, while the kids would miss one day of school and their Chinese class. If I could take care of my lesson and tie up some other loose ends, we would be able to start the 12+ hour drive that very afternoon.
Literally six hours after our initial discussion, we were packed and on our way. You can say it took superpowers to do that. The kiddos were excited to go to Grandma and Grandpa's house, and the drive down was pretty uneventful (save my driving anxieties, but we'll save that for another post). We arrived Friday night and saw my recovering grandmother.
She was happy to see us. She couldn't remember a few details--where we drove from or what city she was in--but she knew who we were. And in just the short time we were there, she showed visible improvements. She eventually remembered all of our names, gained noticeable appetite, and chit chatted away during short spurts of energetic moments. While it was difficult to see old age rob her of her strength, mobility, and wakefulness, it was encouraging to see the small progress she was making with her vulnerable, fragile body.
During those two days, I was able to hold my grandmother's hand--it was soft and full of sheen and color; she showed me the lines on her palm that indicated good luck, and then studied the lines on mine. I was able to wrap my arms around her small body, give it a tiny squeeze, and offer her some Granddaughter Magic. I was able to kiss her weathered cheeks and tell her goodnight. For this, I am thankful.
Moreover, I have endless gratitude for my DH who offered to be the sole driver of this trip, taking care of all the travel details, and making it a reality for all of us to see my grandmother. I am grateful for the kiddos who sat through all the hours in the car with minimal "are-we-there-yets." I am so extremely thankful for the parents of my Chinese Toddler Class who pulled together to carry on my lesson in my place. In just over four days, we accomplished something that can only be described as "valuable, good, and memorable."
As we drove away at dusk on the last day, I looked up and saw the most beautiful light in the sky. The gray sky was lit up in one area where the rays of the sun shone through tufts of bright, orange clouds. The light rays blazed in all directions, as if bidding us farewell for a safe drive. Its magnificence felt like my smiling grandmother lighting our way out of the city and wishing us a good return trip home.
So, Dear 24-Hours, you were time more than well-spent. You proved that last minute plans are worth the effort, that time spent with loved ones is a Gift, and that Years-Months-Weeks-Days-Hours-Minutes-Seconds are Blessings that we cherish. You helped bring to light my gratitude for these few days of meaningful gathering. I may not know what the future holds, but I am grateful for what I have now--being able to have had the chance to hold my grandmother's delicate and lovely hand.