Every Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve were spent with these grandparents. Not only do I miss those warm family get togethers but it's difficult to be reminded my grandparents left this world around the holidays.
When Grandpa's health was failing, 8 years ago, and he was in the hospital, I rushed to see him one last time. I found Grandpa in pain having a difficult time talking and breathing. There wasn't much I could do to ease his pain other than hold his hand and tell him I loved him. It hurt to see this strong man I had grown up next door to losing a battle with his failing body.
I was closer to Grandma than to Grandpa. I grew up decorating cakes, gardening, canning and butchering chickens with Grandma. After Grandpa died I wrote to Grandma quite a bit. Being that I lived three hours away I didn't get the chance to see her often. When her eyesight failed and her hands hurt too much she would still send her responses to my letters even when I assured her she didn't need to write back.
When Grandma went into the hospital for the last time I didn't go see her. DR asked repeatedly if i wanted to go home to see Grandma. "No." I always answered. At this point Grandma had given up. She was tired of this world and she was ready to go home. She wasn't awake or responsive and she wouldn't have known I was there anyway. She was surrounded by family and friends and I was comforted that she wasn't alone.
It may seem cold but I had nothing to say to Grandma even if I had gone. We had said all we ever needed to in conversations and letters. For years she lived in a nursing home that she hated but was the only place that could see to her medical care. I knew when my Grandma passed she would finally be at peace.
Maybe it's cowardice on my part but I also didn't go see Grandma in the hospital because I didn't want my last memory of her being one of her in a hospital bed. My grandmother was a strong, independent, brave and hard working woman. Those are the traits I wanted to remember her by. I didn't say "goodbye" to Grandma and that's okay.
All four of my grandparents were extremely supportive and loving of their family but Grandpa L and Grandma L hold a special place in my heart because I lived right next door to them during my entire childhood. I saw them practically everyday. They were more like a second set of parents than grandparents. They were steadfast and strong, loving and caring. They welcomed a house full of grandkids and noise.
Even though the holidays bear the reminder of the loss of two grandparents, I'm comforted with the memories of those same grandparents as they celebrated the holidays with me and my cousins in years past.