Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Dear Grandma

I was reminded today of my last conversation with my maternal grandmother before she died 7 years ago.  I was talking with my father on the phone, and he needed to do something that would require both hands.  His phone doesn't have speaker, so I told him to just set me down on the kitchen table and come back to me when he was done.  I could hear all of his puttering in the kitchen, and this is what brought me back to Grandma and this almost forgotten conversation.

I was living a good six hours from my family then, and didn't have the discretionary income to travel much.  Grandma has just been admitted to the skilled nursing facility associated with the hospital   Since I couldn't visit, I called her up.

The residents had just finished with dinner.  It took the nurse a moment to track Grandma down, but when she did, she brought her the cordless phone.  Grandma was 96 or so at the time.  

"Hello?" said Grandma.

"Hi Grandma!" I said.

"Who's this?"

"It's  The F.A."


"The F.A., Mom's daughter?"

"Mom's not here right now."

"I know that, Grandma.  This is The F.A.  I called to talk to you."

I started telling her about my day, and what had been happening in her life.  I mentioned how I missed her and wished I could visit.  She made some murmurs like "Oh yes, uh huh" so I thought she was following what I was saying even though it was clear she couldn't remember who I was.  

Then she said "OK, I am done talking to you now" and proceeded to set the phone down on her dining tray (without turning it off).  That was the last time I spoke with her.  We had this conversation shortly after I met my husband.  I was trying to get her to hang on long enough to see me married.  

She died a couple weeks later.  It makes me said that our last conversation was so incomplete.  I wish I had gotten more of her stories into my head, and down on paper or recorded in some way.  Treasure the elders in  your life; they won't be here forever.  Learn from them.  And always remember them. 

Don't let your last words to them be "Hello?  Hello?  Are you still there?"  They might not be.

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