By Renaissance Girl
I visited my grandmother yesterday for her 95th birthday. It’s been a while since I’ve seen her. She was in her bed by the window, mint green sweat suit with embroidered flowers peeking out from under the covers, hair in wild curls against the pillow. I gave her a hug and kiss and said “Wow, Grandma, 95 – Happy Birthday!” She smiled and answered “I know….., I don’t know what’s next from here.” The comment caught me off guard. It wasn’t depressed or negative, really just a musing but so much was held in those words.
We sat together and ate the pepperoni pizza that was her birthday request. We talked about family and birds and books and food, and we talked about giving up her apartment and giving away her things and the fact that she might not actually be able to walk again. The time went by fast and when it was time to go, I wanted to take her with me – to whisk her away from those sterile halls and build her a room full of color, surrounded by trees that birds could sing in. As I headed home, I pondered how our perspective changes from childhood to adulthood – how the things that seemed important as a kid, like who gave the best Christmas presents, which grandparent was the most “fun,” who let you eat candy – are along the way rendered irrelevant by a new awareness. Here was a woman who suffered and kept going, who loved her husband and watched him die first, who raised her children with the best she could instill in them, who made mistakes and picked back up, and who loved her grandchildren and great-grandchildren with all her heart and now is graciously awaiting “what’s next from here.” Somehow I feel that, on her birthday, I got a gift too.
Photo By Kate Shannon