My Grandma has seen a lot in her hundred years. (It's a hundred years, there's a lot to see!) She's seen wars, a depression, a recession, inventions, and so much more. She's walked in the Rose Parade, played the clarinet in massive music halls, and worked in Beverly Hills. She gave up a scholarship to go to college so she could stay at home and take care of her parents.
And she makes the best egg salad sandwiches I've ever tasted.
She does crossword puzzles constantly and solves them all (even the Sunday New York Times), and answers correctly on Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune nightly. It's pretty impressive if you ask me.
But, she is a hundred years old. That doesn't come without its difficulties. She says she always feels terrible, but there's no reason for that except for her age. I imagine this would be frustrating for most people, to feel weak and to have difficulty walking and doing things for yourself when you've never had any trouble with that before, so I try to understand where she's coming from. It's hard though, because she still wants to act like an 80 year old, or a 50 year old. She still wants to be able to clean her home, and stand up on stools to get a book off the top shelf, or drive herself to get a perm. She wants to be able to play with her only (for now) great-grandchild the way she always played with us, with energy and enthusiasm and zest, but the truth is that she just can't.
She can't get on the floor and play make believe with Baby Kate, so she sits in a overstuffed recliner and plays with her that way. She can't pick Baby Kate up, so she let's people try to convince a 2 month old to sit still for 5 minutes with Great Grandma (it works about as well as baptizing a cat).
The thing I hear her say the most now is, "Oh, I don't know why God let me live so long!" I always reply with, "I don't know why either, Grandma, and I don't care why. I'm just glad he has!" And I am. I am so very glad, and I tell her that whenever we talk. I know that one day she won't be here anymore, but to think about just breaks my heart, and I can't even go there. Sometimes, when our family is all together, my aunt and I will both look at my Grandma and then look at each other, and both of our eyes fill with tears, because we're both so grateful that she's still here, and we're trying not to picture life without her.
I've always been amazed by her, and I always will be amazed by her. She loves family more than anyone I know, and I'm blessed to have had her as a role model for my whole life. She has always been proud of her family, and it's clear that nothing was more important to her (except Jesus).
Lately, she's been falling a lot more, and I've been scared. She has one of those fancy Life Alert buttons that has come in handy many times, and it's a good thing. She took a fall the morning after Christmas, right before our whole family was supposed to go over there. Tensions were high and she opted to miss the festivities and just stay in bed and rest. When Keith and I were getting ready to leave, my aunt told me to go in there and tell her goodbye, and the way she said it was so somber. When I walked in, she almost disappeared in the bed, she was so tiny. She was sleeping and was so bundled that I couldn't see any movement, and I started to cry. But when I touched her shoulder, she woke up, and her eyes lit up when she saw it was me.
"Merry Christmas, Grandma," I told her softly.
"Merry Christmas, Sug," she said with a smile. ("Sug" is short for "sugar.") "It was a nice Christmas, wasn't it?"We talked about how nice it had been to all be together, and I told her it was time for me to go.
"Well, are you coming over for lunch next week?" She asked, and I gently reminded her that I don't live in San Luis anymore, that I lived on a mountain with my husband.
"Oh, that's right," she said. "Are you happy?"
"I'm very happy, and I hope you are too," I replied. And then I hugged her, told her I loved her, and walked out.