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O Death

Within the past month or so, one of my choir buddies lost a grandmother. Within the past week or so, a college friend's father died, my choir director had a relative die (I *think* it was her mother), a livejournal buddy's grandfather died...
Not to mention, I've been forced to face my own mortality because this weird heart issue...

And this evening, my paternal grandmother died. (1/31/1917 - 2/24/2011)

She'd been in a nursing home since for at least 6 years (2x the normal duration, apparently). Almost every day, my father or my mother or one of my sisters would visit her...and if no family could go, often a friend of the family would go see her.

She'd initially gone there after a serious stroke, but she had already had a number of health issues including type II diabetes.
She has since also had heart problems and, since last year, carcinoma in her intestines.

I spoke to my mother this afternoon to give her some good news, and she and my father were at the nursing home. My grandmother was no longer eating or drinking. She was unable to swallow, and they weren't giving her any fluids or anything because, back when plans were being made and she still had her faculties, she had requested that she not be resuscitated nor any fluids or extras be used to keep her alive.

She was on a low dose of morphine to keep her comfortable. Her eyes were closed all the time and she no longer spoke, although she responded to her hands being touched/massaged and family members still spoke to her and visited her.

My mother told me that, now that she wasn't eating or drinking, it was only a matter of time, but they didn't know how long it would take before she would go.

Just a little while ago my mother called me.
My parents had arrived only 5 minutes too late- but luckily my father's sibling had been able to get time off and had come from New Hampshire and was with her when she died.

My mother told me that my father was doing okay now, but that he'd been crying for most of the day because he knew it would happen soon. My two older sisters are also there, and my younger sister and I spoke on the phone a little while ago...

The funeral will be on a weekend- maybe next weekend but I don't know yet.

Of course it is a relief in a way- she had suffered for so long, and we suspect she'd struggle with depression for much longer. My grandfather, her husband, died when I was around 2 years old, and I know she missed him so terribly. We moved to a house that had a separate apartment on the bottom floor when I was 5 so that she could live with us.

But, she lived an incredible life, having been born while her parents were refugees, and later, she and my grandfather escaped from Latvija to Sweden during the night so that he would not be arrested (he was being looked for- he'd helped Jews escape Nazis)...and they raised their two children in Sweden until my father, their eldest, was 11...and then they family came to the United States.

She helped us girls learn Latvian and supported us, financially and in other ways, when we wanted to pursue music. She funded our family's annual Cape Cod trips when we were growing up, and would always bathe her feet in seawater.

Our relationship with her was never much of a cuddly one, but we appreciated and loved her very much.

I am also sad for my father- he took as much responsibility for her care as he could for many years, being the good Elder Son and all- I know he must be relieved but at the same time, he has lost his Mother, his only surviving parent. I know he is grieving. (And his birthday is in two days, for heaven's sake.)

Their relationship was never a mushy one, either, but I do know that they did express their love for each other back when she was still able to speak.

O Death. I'd ask you where your sting is, but....I still feel it.
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Thank you, Lisa.

I was honestly surprised at how quickly she left once she'd stopped eating and drinking- I don't think the true reality has fully hit me might not until the service this coming Wednesday.

It's good and comforting to know that someone else understands this kind of situation so well.

my grandmother, his wife, died of cancer in a similar manner, with breathing becoming labored, no more eating or drinking, and organs shutting down. The labored breathing is hard to hear, and I'm glad that I was not present for that as I was for my grandmother.

it's messed up my week; I find myself spaced out, crying at little things, and even dreaming once about him (when i never dreamt of my other grandparents after they passed).

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