My middle name is Pauline. So named for my Grandmother, Pauline Dey Vandemortel. Known to me as Grammie. She was admitted to the hospital today, no one knows when, or if, she'll ever come back out. She had her third stroke.
The entire family has taken a collective inhale.
My Grammie helped raise me. My parents, like so many of our generation, were divorced when I was a little girl. My mother was left struggling and my grandparents stepped in to support her. Grammie took the WATS (Wayne Area Transportation Service) bus to our house most everyday to take care of my brother and I. She hung the clothes on the line, took us for walks to see our mom at work and washed the floors with a rag. Once she even sprained her wrist doing it.
From the time I was little her hair was always red, I didn't know until much later that she dyed it. She was our family's Lucille Ball. I remember once she came shopping with us to help me find some back to school clothes, I was starting the 6th grade that fall. In the dressing room she got a hanger all twisted up into her ring and just couldn't get it out. We laughed so hard, and all any of us could think was this was our private episode of "I love Lucy."
I spent many summer's with her and my grandpa. Every night Grandpa had his beer and peanuts, I had mine with soda and we would sit on the front porch. I remember trying to hide my pajamas so I could wear one of her pretty nightgowns.
Around the age of 10 I developed a plan. I wanted any kids I had to know my Grandparents and so I had a plan so that that could happen. I'm sure it included getting married long before now. Probably by age 20 or something, so I could have kids by 23. I went off that path along time ago.
Her slow decline has kept me trapped in denial. Only today have I begun to allow myself to believe what's really happening, we're losing her. In the last 2 years she's declined so fast. No longer the woman who walked faster than me, would talk to absolutely anyone, and used to say "Blastoff!" when we pulled the car out of the driveway. Now when I see her she sits quietly in her chair, her hair now grey, and just sort of stares into the distance.
I've separated myself from it. I don't visit as often and I should and I didn't realize until today, why. I don't want to believe that the woman in that chair is really my Grammie.
My Grammie was one of the funniest, kindest most amazing women I have ever known. She taught me to love libraries and little potatoes; gardens and garage sales. I'm thankful that I've had the privilege of calling her my family.
I love you Grammie.