Friday, May 26, 2006

Dealing With Loss

I am lucky to have memories of five of my great grandparents. I always felt fortunate to have known any of them, and I felt especially blessed to have "Mama Eakes" in my life until I was in graduate school. She was the smart, snuff-dipping, non-nonsense matriarch of my father's family, and I loved her a great deal.

I did not lose a grandparent until I was 29, when my dad's mom died from a stroke. I am 39 now, and I lost both grandfathers during the last decade, but my mom's mom has marched on through extreme obesity, diabetes, leukemia, and several years of renal failure. While she is officially known as "Gigi" (my sister's truncated attempt at another name), it's no wonder many of us have has called her "Sherm" (short for Sherman Tank) for decades. She is tough as nails.

She turned 86 on Mother's Day, and her entire family was with her. Her continuing decline was evident, as she became a bit disoriented and her speech slurred as the minutes passed. Her ability to tolerate dialysis had diminished, and the toxins in her blood compromised her basic functions.

My mother, her beau, and one of my aunts were with her when her battle ended at 9:10am this morning.

We are busy doing the things families do now - calling friends and family, scheduling visitations and services, picking a casket. Soon other people will arrive, and my house will be the traffic hub for the next few days, since it is a mile or so from the funeral home and cemetery where she will be buried.

Our daughter Sarah adores Gigi. Sometimes when I tell Sarah I am proud of something she has done, she will ask me to tell Gigi so she will be proud, too. With the pending commotion and tears at our house, I keep wondering how I will explain Gigi's departure to Sarah.

Knowing my explanation and the sadness Sarah will witness will take the first few chips out of Sarah's innocence will be the hardest part of the next few days for me.


My grandmother's obit is posted here.


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