Wednesday, June 13, 2012
I can't help but have my grandma on my mind. About two years ago she was diagnosed with Cancer and this past weekend I went to see her. I had originally had plans to go see her in October because an organization is paying for me to go down to Florida for a conference. When I told my aunt these plans, though, she told me I needed to get down to see her sooner than that because odds are she isn't going to make it to October. Both AAPD and my internship were gracious enough to allow me to take some time off last week to go to Florida.
Nothing could have prepared me for what I saw. Not even my aunt who spent the two-hour car ride from the airport doing her best to prepare me. My grandma had always had a commanding presence about her. When she spoke people listened. This and her excellent networking skills made her an integral part of the business her and my grandfather started on Long Island. She always had her self in perfect order: her clothes without a single wrinkle, her make-up of the right shade and her posture was every chiropractors dream.
But when I walked into her room I saw a human frame that represented nothing of my grandma. It looked like a thin film of skin was wrapping her bones, she could barely sit up any more and we were lucky to hear ten words from her all day. After the first time of seeing her I was angry and sad. I felt like my grandma was already gone and that any days that she had left were going to be spent in useless suffering.
But as the weekend went on and she realized that she was being surrounded she perked up quite a bit. Even her wit began to shine. One morning I came into her room and asked her how she was and she responded, "Well, I'm wasting away." I was completely caught off guard. How do you respond to that?! She knew it too because this big smile crept on her face. When I realized how much my grandma wanted people around I began to press my brother to come to see her too. He made it sound like at first that he couldn't come down because of financial reasons but when that that obstacle was removed the truth came out: he didn't want to come down to see her because he wanted to always remember her as strong.
Perhaps I am wrong to feel this way but when I heard this I was disappointed. This made me feel like my own brother (who loves me and is very good to me) saw most of my grandmother's value in her physical strength and what she was capable of doing. I'm not angry with him because I feel this is the viewpoint of most people but I think that this viewpoint robbed him of an opportunity to comfort our grandma and robbed her of the joy of seeing him. Admittedly, I faced shock, anger and hurt when I saw my grandma in this weakened state but by the end of the weekend I knew I would not trade the time I had with her. I think because of my own limitations and the fact that in the last couple of years I have lost some of my strength and capabilities that I was able to look past what I saw physically to see my grandma’s smile creep across her face and the way she rolled her eyes at my aunt who just would not stop talking; and enjoy those moments.
Even though my grandma's cancer is not eating away at her bones and she can no longer do all that she used to, I saw her strength shine through her this weekend. I am sorry my brother will not give himself the opportunity to see it. Our strength does not lay in our capabilities but rather who we are as people.