This week I am featuring my co-worker and friend, Jen Williams. She is a truly talented writer, she sent over a short novel that she wrote years back about her grandmother passing away. She is great at describing situations, I really felt like I was there going through this experience with her. I challenged her to shorten the story for this post and she rose to the occasion. This is a story about loss, love, grief, acceptance, awareness and much more, in only a few short paragraphs. Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us Jen.
“You know, I’ve always been good at accepting death. It was never something that scared me. Plenty of people in my life passed away when I was quite young (both my grandfathers, great aunts/uncles and even my own uncle) I was a person of faith so I believed those people went to heaven and we’re happier. However, when I was 16, I really knew what it meant to lose someone. To make a long story short (which literally it’s a long story. I wrote a short novel about it if you’d like to read the WHOLE thing let me know) I didn’t just lose my grandmother, I lost a place at the table. A friend when no one else was there. A comic relief. A voice, though quiet, spoke volumes.
You see, my junior year of high school was not easy. I had a bad relationship with a boy my grandmother told me wasn’t worth my presence. I struggled in school due to my personal life. My parents just struggled in general with work and money and raising a family while taking care of a sick parent. It was a hard October. To paint a better picture for you, my grandmother came to live with my family when I was 9. Throughout the years she was a caretaker for us. A good bit of my teens my mother worked at night and my father worked in the day and played video games all night. My grandmother was the one who made sure my brother and I were taken care of. She made sure that when we were out of line she’d become Grambo (like gramma and Rambo. Get it??) However, the beginning of senior year my grandmother, who was never healthy to begin with, became even more ill. Now at this point, she had already lost a toe due to neglecting diabetes. Well, she had the flu to begin with but while at the hospital learned she had gangrene from a cut on her foot from when she was cutting her toenails. Now, this kind of thing always irritated me because she seemed to always be sick and never took care of herself and here she is possibly losing a whole leg. I felt that she was always causing my parents extra work to take care of her and now we may have to remodel the house again for her to be in a wheelchair. Well a month went by and everything fell apart, literally. Our refrigerator broke as well as our furnace. I spent time in the emergency room. My boyfriend broke up with me. And my grandmother couldn’t fight her infection any longer and she passed away after telling the nurses she was ready and to stop treatment.
Her funeral came and went and it started to hit me. I felt so guilty. Why was I ever upset by who she was? Yes my parents had to do a lot for her and spend a lot of time with her. But why was I jealous of the attention she got? She needed it. I was selfish. I didn’t realize how much I’d miss her at the dinner table giving us updates on the weather (even when they were wrong) or repeating something someone JUST SAID because she wasn’t all there all the time. My house felt empty, cold. Her room just a hollow shell of the moments that were now memories. Christmas won’t be the same without her there. To think, just six months before that, we threw her a surprise party for her 70th which I’m so glad now we did.
Here I am now, almost 10 years later to the day, writing about her. Do I still feel guilty? Not as much as I did. I was a bratty teenager who had a dose of reality. However, I do still miss her. I no longer live in my parents house but when I go there I think of her. Her room was an addition that was torn down and we don’t have the same kitchen table but the memories remain. We talk very fondly of her and we talk about her often. The only thing I honestly regret, is I wish I would’ve listened to her more about not being with that boy in high school and not having some of the friends I did. She worried about me. I feel I still ended up okay in the end. I just wish she was able to see me now. I graduated college, married a great man and own my own home. I just wish she could see that I’m doing okay. But like I said, I do believe in heaven, so I think she knows I am.
I still love you gramma Betty Jean.
Your Jenny Penny”