Grandmother Died

Funeral on the moon

Maybe you want to know if I cried?

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23 April – Waiting For Grandmother to Die

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We’ve called the ambulance and they picked her up like a sack of potatoes and put her in a wheelchair and tied her well. I helped them carry the chair into the ambulance.

The doctors sent her back home nine hours later. Her eyes turned from blue to gray. She couldn’t speak anymore. Cancer destroyed her lungs and liver.

I sat beside her bed and held her cold hand. I wanted to tell her about Oliver Colors, but I didn’t. She will never know about him.

I also wanted to ask her about my father’s real father. My grandfather is my father’s stepfather. Some things are better left unsaid though.

I smothered my grandmother with the pillow. In my imagination. Like the protagonist in the French film Amour (Love) by Michael Haneke did to his wife after going through great pains to take care of her. To save her the suffering. And to end his torment.

*

24 April – Grandmother Died Today

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She moaned softly all night. Mother, grandfather, and I slept in another room. Grandfather snored. Mother and I checked on her from time to time. We expected her to last at least one or two weeks more.

Around 5:30 AM she made some worrying sounds and me and mother went to her and heard a gurgling sound in her mouth, the ‘death rattle.’ Mother looked quite worried. But I did not lose my calm. As grandmother died I held her hand and kept my other hand on her forehead.

The belly moved after she stopped breathing. I closed her eyes and tried to close her mouth too, but it kept opening.

For about an hour we were not sure if she really died. But I checked her pulse and listened to her heart and confirmed her death. I was quite composed. I suppose life in a shadowy attic has made me tough.

Grandfather was moderately sad and somewhat relieved. He talked incessantly all day about trivial matters, few of them related to my grandmother. He seemed glad to have gotten rid of her. I would have liked to punch him once or twice, but I did not. Solitude shall kill him, poor fool.

*

25 April – We Buried Grandmother

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I did not know that there are funeral services that take care of all the practicalities, from moving the body in the coffin to registering the death at the town hall and bringing you back the papers. And they are not too costly either.

In Romania funerals are a jumble of customs ranging from the silly to the absurd. The Church service is dull, the gravediggers impudent, the mourners a strange assortment of people, many of whom the family of the deceased has not seen in years.

The funeral was poorly attended, partly because grandfather did not want to tell too many people about it – probably because he wanted to cut expenses – and partly because grandmother was a withdrawn person and did not have friends.

Conclusion

So no, I haven’t wept. I felt like weeping several times, but I held my tears back. The funeral was farcical and I did not want to cry in front of strangers. I wept a little after I got home. I don’t feel shocked, or too sad. I loved my grandmother, but we’ve never been on the same frequency.

During the funeral someone remarked that I am much like her. I’ve observed grandmother over the years, and we share many gestures and expressions and patterns of behavior. I’ve inherited many of my quirks from her. I’m her only descendant left alive now. She lives in me.

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51 thoughts on “Grandmother Died

  1. I’m sorry, Vincent. Sounds like maybe this will take some pressure or stress off…be a relief in some ways…although it is never easy, and certainly not the ideal. Blessings to you and your family. And please have a good cry, for goodness sake, when and if you need to!

  2. I am sorry for your pain Vincent. From reading earlier comments it must have been a relief to finally cry. I hope you believe she is in a better place. My condolences.

  3. It’s hard for me to cry as well. When my mother died, it took many weeks before the harsh reality of loss hit me and I was able to release the emotion. Tears are not an act of shame and sometimes they save us.

    I’m very sorry for you loss.

  4. My condolences, boy. I don’t wanna sound insensitive, but… I don’t think it’s primordial to demonstrate what we feel in relation to a loss with tears. You are feeling that loss, you are facing that loss of your way. A way that does not necessarily need tears and I think it’s completely understandable. Sometimes the tears, the urge to cry, come naturally and sometimes not.

  5. I’m very sorry about your grandmother. It is nice to know that you have picked up some of her traits as it’s like she’s not completely gone. I send you my best wishes and share your sorrows. 😦

  6. I’ve finished reading your post, but continue to be haunted by the images: the sack of potatoes, the once-blue-now-gray eyes, the illusory pillow over the face, the cold hand, Grandfather’s snores, Grandmother’s death rattle.
    I want to respond, but instead feel suspended somewhere in time, as if I were a member of the audience during a performance by the best-of-the-best musicians.

    After such performances, I often wonder what the musicians think when greeted by silence rather than applause. Do they interpret it as failure to connect with their audience? Little do they realize that they’ve connected so well that they’ve transported their audience to a place where beauty and pain are experienced more acutely than their audience has ever allowed themselves to experience it in the real world.

    I would applaud you for having written the best blog post I’ve ever read, but applause is of the real world. I’m not quite ready to return yet.

  7. Vincent, I am sorry for your loss, especially the poignancy of being her last living descendant. Do you feel adrift at all, in the sea of genealogy? I have to admit, I loved this sentence in your post: “I loved my grandmother, but we’ve never been on the same frequency.” That sentence so simply and yet deeply describes many family relations. Personally, I could use that sentiment to describe my relationship to pretty much every one in my family. I love each of them, but “we’ve never been on the same frequency.” Don’t worry about crying. Whether or not you cry has no real bearing on your love for your grandmother. I cry easily, too easily, and so for me, it has little value. My husband hardly cries at all; in fact, in the 27 years I’ve known him, I’ve never seen him cry. Yet, I know he suffered deeply when his mother died. I didn’t know him then, but he told me that her death was sudden. Although she was in hospital for cancer, she had seemed to be recovering, and then suddenly she was gone. Six months later he fell into a deep depression, which he contributed to the loss finally overwhelming him. Every one deals with these losses in their own way, and we cannot, should not judge someone because they respond differently from others. I hope you can embrace how you grieve for your grandmother and all those conflicting feelings of relief and sadness and anger. In the US, we have a real problem in accepting death as part of life. I am glad to read that you were all with your grandmother and that she died peacefully. It’s all any of us could want.

  8. Deepest condolences. Impressive how you were able to convey a story like this in so few a number of words. 🙂 Thank you for sharing it with us.

  9. Ohhhh. Dear, dear hatted boy. Your story hurts. I know you were not close, and you did not cry—much. But, inside… To watch someone die in that way, it is not something I have ever done nor think anyone should ever have to do… You were not close, and yet you were—far closer than you are to anyone else in your family, from what you say. As you have said, some of your mannerisms are from her: now, she lives in you.

    Funerals are funerals anywhere. I very much wish I could give you a hug.

  10. I was just reading Albert Camus’ The Stranger about a man (a very interesting character) who doesn’t cry of feel emotional at his mother’s funeral and your story (of loss) reminds back to that book.

  11. Seems all is well…

    I have to say that for someone who had to suffer so much, perhaps death is the only thing that could be joyful. May she rest in peace…!

    I had/have this belief that when we die, we become Guardian Angels. I also think the one’s who die look after their beloved’s that are still alive. I think she’ll find out about your book and get to know it better than you think. But you won’t have to know that.

    I send you a warm hug!

  12. Sweet blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News.
    Do you have any suggestgions on how to get listed in Yahoo
    News? I’ve been treying for a whle but I never seem to gett there!
    Many thanks

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