Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dear 24-Hours


Dear 24-Hours,

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."

Sometimes, a sunset is laced by wisps of colorful clouds that complete its grandeur.  I believe that Grandmothers are sunsets of the sky, and I was fortunate enough to be a part of my grandmother's cloud ensemble.

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. 

Sincerely,
Me

27 comments:

  1. Sounds like an incredible visit.
    And it's wonderful that your whole family was there for you and ready to go.

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    1. They were absolutely there for me, and I am so grateful for that. This was not an easy feat to say the least, so, yes, it was pretty incredible that it happened. The visit was so short, but all that we could muster at this time. Thank you so much for stopping by, ElGuapo! :)

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  2. I am so happy for you that you all were able to pull together and make the visit with your grandmother happen. It is so special to have that time, no matter how little or much it is. Oh, what I would give to be able to hold my grandmother's silky soft hand again and spend a little bit of time with her.

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    1. Thank you so much, Cindy! It really was special to have that time together. It made her happy to see the kiddos run and laugh and play and jiggle all around her. How beautiful that your memory of your grandmother's hand is 'silky soft'. Hugs to you!

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  3. Aww... how wonderful. Such powerful images: her hand in yours, the light through the clouds. My jaw dropped when I read how impromptu the trip was--kudos to you! That was so amazing, given your, um, aversion to last-minute anything. :) And your DH is a keeper. How sweet. Believe me, cherish every moment. It's worth it. The loss of the older generation has been very hard in recent years. My mom turns 82 this week. My mother-in-law no longer recognizes me. And the dads are long gone...

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    1. If anyone, I knew *you'd* understand, Susanna! That's why I said 'superpowers'! Yes, DH was behind this all, and I'm so very grateful.

      The light in the sky was so magnificent that this blurry picture does it no justice at all. It was really in the sky as we drove away, and it was a glorious sign.

      I'm so sorry for your losses and the slipping away of your loved ones. No matter how natural the process of aging is, it is still painful for all of us. I'm sending hugs to you, my dear friend.

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  4. So glad you had a chance to visit with your grandmother, and that your visit seemed to make her feel better.

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    1. Even though my grandmother cried when we left, I still think the visit was worth the tears. Any time together is blessed time. And I hope she continues to make improvements. Thank you, Tara!

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  5. I'm glad you were able to have some time to spend with your grandmother. Family time is so important.

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    1. Given that we don't live very close to each other, any time we have together is meaningful and treasured. Thank you, Asianmommy!

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  6. Your grandmother's hand reminds me of my nonna Bruna. She died at 93, her skin so thin I could see the blood pulsating through her veins. I wish I had time like you did with her before she died, but I was already in the US and I couldn't just hop on a flight.

    I am glad you went for it and you took the kids, they will remember it for ever.

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    1. Yes, I think we will all remember it well. It must have been so hard on you to not be able to see your nonna because you were so far away. I know she lives on in your heart, Laura. You even remember the look of her hands well. Thank you for your kind words!

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  7. The picture made me teary even before I read a single word. A powerful reminder I need to visit my grandmother more often!
    Like you, I need plans before actions ... but I feel the spontaneous things make the best memories. So glad the trip was memorable.

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    1. Tran, thank you for being a part of what made this trip possible! I hope you live close enough to your grandmother that you can visit more often. I had to take a picture of her hand because it showed such amazing colors and abundance in life experiences. Thank you for being such a kindred spirit--we must speak the same language of emotions if this picture touches you so. :)

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  8. I'm glad you saw her. It's soooo important. Too bad she can't be closer. The one thing i loved the most about my Nona was her hands. Being a nurse I knew I could just take her with me and take care of her when she became sick but sometimes the end happens so fast and the last time I saw her hands was her last day. She went from visiting the doc to being in a coma within the same day and so I flew in and got to the hospital, picked up her arm like it was a wing and laid it over me and said goodbye. And that was it! You never know when you are going to hug the person you love most in the world the last time.

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  9. What a blessing for you, your family, and especially your grandma, that you were able to pull together a long-distance trip on the spur of the moment. It's wonderful to hear that as the visit progressed, your grandma became more aware, able to eat (soooo important!), and had spurts of energy! What a beautiful metaphor of sunsets to grandmas. And what a beautiful sunset it was! I love the rays of light! This post reminds me to get J to spend more time with his grandparents. Have a good weekend and hope that your grandma can leave the hospital soon. 92, wow!

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    1. Thank you so much, Lisa! I think she is still making tiny improvements, so we're thankful. She was only in the hospital for a few short days, but required 24-hour care after she went home. It's a lot scarier when the docs and nurses aren't around all the time, you know?

      I am so behind on reading blogs! I hope to have more time next week to catch up. You have a great weekend, too, and thanks for checking in!

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  10. I got choked up reading this. Maybe it's because all my grandparents are already gone. I'm so glad you got to squeeze a visit in. Life is so crazy, that's what you have to do to get it done (it's like having kids - if you wait until all the conditions are right, it'll never happen.)

    And the fact the kids were good in the car for you - that's an added bonus!

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    1. I'm sorry to make you sad! We did just decide on a whim and go for it. It was a whirlwind four days, but made it there and back safely. The kiddos were pretty good given the circumstances, and I am grateful. Thank you so much, Janna. I'm so behind all-things-bloggy; but I *will* visit soon!

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  11. Oh no, I was typing a response but somehow it disappeared. I guess, I will try again tomorrow - it has gotten a little too late here.

    But but I am so very happy for you that you got to visit your Grandma. :)

    ~Imelda

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  12. Sandra, how sweet and poignant this post is. We just had dinner with hubby's 86 year old grandma like we do most Sundays. It's been a rough few months with her. But one day we'll look back and appreciate all this time we had with her.

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    1. Thank you for the kind words, Susi! How wonderful it is that you can spend many Sundays with your hubby's grandmother! It is so hard to see grandparents slow down, so time spent together *is* really precious.

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  13. I am so glad you were able to spend time with your husband and family with your grandmother. It's amazing how time with family can make such a difference. Your husband is so supportive, and you are so lucky to have such a wonderful family on all sides. May your grandmother continue to recover.

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    1. DH is pretty amazing when it comes to driving long distances like that. My grandmother is doing okay--her vital signs are stable, but her memory fades in and out. We can only hope for the best. Thank you so much for your good wishes, Michelle!

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  14. Sorry it has taken so long to respond. I always say to myself I will come back and comment when I can hop on the computer, but some days it never happens and my eyes simply cannot see too well on the iPad and my fingers do not work all that good,either, so typos pop up everywhere!

    This hit a soft spot with me....
    Yesterday was one year ago my grandmother passed away.

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    1. Please don't be sorry, Kim! I know how the days somehow meld together when times get busy. I hope your kiddos are feeling better from the tummy bug.

      I think I remember one of your previous posts you wrote on your grandmother. I'm so sorry, Kim. I hope you had fond memories of her as you remembered her life and love. (HUGS)

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