Monday, May 30, 2011

An emotional weekend

I decided to make a trip up north to see my grandmother. It's not an easy drive to make with 2 kids. The trip was almost cancelled several times because I couldn't find anyone to come with me to help with the kids on the drive there and back. I was ready to throw the towel in and then I received some sad news. My grandmothers brother, Bebo as we called him, passed away last week. There were 5 siblings including my grandmother and she and her sister are the only ones left now. This was so so very sad. It renewed my drive to see her no matter what as she is over 90 years old and each day we have with her is a gift. I live so far from her that I only have the time off from work to see her maybe twice a year and i wasn't sure she would make it to the next vacation I have in November. I treat every visit like it may be my last. That way I have no regrets and make memories that will last even after she is gone. Luckily my sister finally agreed to go and we made this trip happen.


We arrived on Saturday and after driving for 4 plus hours we were pretty tired and didn't really do much but relax. The next day, the 29th, is when we actually got to visit my grandmother, Abilla. {grandmother in Spanish is "abuela". When I was little I couldn't say "abuela", instead I called her "Abilla". The name stuck and everyone in the family calls her Abilla. She even signed cards as "Abilla".}

We arrive at the home she is in and I can already feel my chest getting tight. It kills me to go here and see all the elderly people that are only shells of their former selves. Abilla included. We found her in the "activity room" which really isn't more than a room they roll people in wheelchairs in where a tv is on. She was sitting in her wheelchair hunched over sleeping with her arms crossed.


The first thing I noticed was how thick her hair was. She had the habit of pulling out her own hair. It got so bad they had to put a hat on her because she was getting a bald spot. Well you could never tell by looking at her yesterday. Her hair was so thick and beautiful. And now that she had so much hair I noticed that it wasn't all white. Of course there were still some strands of her light brown from the days she used to dye her hair, but I also saw a lot of still naturally dark hair in there too. It really surprised me. At over 90 years old with lots of dark hair was quite impressive to me.


So anyway, we rolled her into her room so that we could have some private family time. I gently stroked her hair and said "hi Abilla, it's me Tiffany." She looked up and looked into my eyes and called me "mama" and she went in for a hug. She didn't unfold her arms but she leaned in and put her head on my shoulder. I loved that but at the same time it made me want to cry so bad.



By the time I rolled her to her room, which was just down the hall, she was already back asleep. I didn't want to wake her so I let her sleep a little.


I had previously been inspired by The Midnight Orange who recently had her grandmother pass away. She went to see her grandmother one last time and made some clay hearts and pressed her fingerprints into them and now she has these most special hearts with a part of her grandmother to hold on to. I decided I wanted to do the same. Although my hearts are much bigger. I wanted to get a print for each finger. So I made 10 most precious hearts. I did find a challenge though. Abilla's skin is so very fragile and thin, like rice paper. And she actually didn't really have fingerprints that would leave a print on the clay. Her skin was so smooth that nothing was picked up.


So instead I just got an imprint of her finger. Which was still perfect because it was her fingers. I made the hearts before I got there so that all I needed to do was press her fingers into them. As I pressed her fingers in the clay I started crying. I couldn't help it. I was thinking that I can't believe I'm doing this to have as a keepsake after she is gone. It's just too sad for me to even think about loosing her. After I pressed them, the hearts came out less than perfect and sort of lost some of their shape. But after looking at all of them I decided I actually liked them better like this. Perfect in their rawness and imperfections. I then stored them in a little box to be kept safe and sound until we got home again.


By the time I was finished I was able to sort of nudge her awake. She called me "mama" again, which I'm told is what she says when she recognizes people. When I heard this it both made me so happy that she knew who I was but it also broke my heart to see that she couldn't say what she wanted to. I was able to have her see the rainbows.


She gave both kids and hug and kiss. D even said "I love you Abilla." She held G, with my supervision of course, and that's when she was most awake. You can tell she just love babies. When G got fussy and started to cry she even said "porque llora?" (why is she crying). That was one of the two full sentences she said while I was there. The other one she told me was that she was cold... Which also broke my heart. She always seems to be cold. So I wrapped her up in a warm blanket.


Abilla used to do this little game with me and all the grandkids when we were little. She would take our hands, make one to just extend our pointer finger, like we were holding up the number one and open the other hand. She would teach us the numbers by taking our pointer finger and touching our other hand starting with our thumb and moving along to the pinky saying "uno, dos, tres, cuatro, CINCO!" and then we would celebrate and say "Yay!" and clap. Well G did this while sitting on her lap. You should have seen the smile on my grandmothers face. Once again it brought tears to my eyes. She kept going to sleep every few minutes so we didn't really talk much or get many photos. I can't tell you how much she means to me. I grew up with her very much in the picture. I see her as a second mother. She and my mom are on the same level... Maybe even higher because how my relationship with my mom is now.


It's so sad to me that when I visit my uncles house where Abilla lived before she got moved to the home, I see her room. With all her little pictures, mementos and her clothes in the closet. A room that has not been lived in by her for years. Our family tells us that we can take anything we want... You know, something of hers to hold on to. It makes me so sad. I took a little picture frame meant for a baby that goes on the fridge a few years ago when I was pregnant with D. I put his picture in it. I saw it as her gift for the new baby.


When I was little she had a ring that I absolutely adored. It wasn't anything fancy. It was a purple polished stone in it's raw form and the metal was wrapped around it. I always loved that ring and remember asking her when I was about 5 years old that if there ever came a day where she didn't want it if she could give it to me. she laughed and said yes. I never saw that ring again. I went looking for it in her jewelry box when they said we could take things and I never found it. I think I'll have one made just like it and that way I will remember her and that special ring.


I apologize I'm all over with this post, but I wanted to document everything so that I can come back and read this and remember everything fondly. So I mentioned that we saw her on the 29th. The 29th should of been my 7 year wedding anniversary. 7 years ago she was at my wedding. Wow. I still can't believe it. In 7 years she went from this:


To this:

It's not fair. Seeing her go downhill like this is just torture to me.


I know I have the hope of the new system where she will be well again. And should she pass away before it comes I know I have the hope of the resurrection. One of my cousins drew this picture for her years ago and put it on the wall in her room.


It says "Grandma in paradise." it's such a beautiful hope but seeing this pictures brings me to tears. Here is a picture of Abilla's bed with the blanket I made for G.


Kind of like where young meets old. Sigh. Anyway, that concluded our trip. It was not a good day for her, poor thing. I kissed her head and said goodbye with tears in my eyes not knowing if this was goodbye forever or just for now. I didn't want to leave her alone in her room so we rolled her back to the activity room with the other people. Leaving her there is never easy.


So with that we met up with our other family for a quiet afternoon before we left. In talking with my uncle he was talking about how in his family the women always had boys first then girls and how it was awesome so that the boys could look over their little sisters. He then said that that was the case with me too. I silently nodded but in my heart I was screaming that D is not my first. And yes he is a big brother to G but he is a little brother to Genesis. And she would have made a fantastic big sister looking after her younger siblings, just as I did being the oldest in my family. Little comments like that just kill me. I know he didn't mean ill by it, but it still hurts. My family up north doesn't acknowledge Genesis. It's just so sad.


So with all that I had lots to think about on the drive home. I'm just emotionally exhausted and had to let this all out. Oh and also I finished the clay hearts at home. I powdered them in purple powder as purple is Abilla's favorite color. 


I will forever treasure these and fondly recall that she was alive and remembered me when I made these.


Oh yes and in other emotional news, my great uncle that died, Bebo, they tell me that he was also in a home in Florida. The autopsy revealed that the facility didn't give him food or water and that he died of starvation and dehydration. I just cannot believe this. Of course my family is suing but that doesn't being him back. What a tragedy. The poor man must have suffered greatly. 

5 comments:

TanaLee Davis said...

Oh Tiffany.
My heart goes out to you in this most difficult time. Know that I'm thinking of you sister. Love you-
Felicia

KnottedFingers said...

Oh Tiffany. You are in my thoughts and prayers :( Your post had me in tears. Your grandmother is beautiful but I'm so sorry you will have to be without her soon :(

I'm also sorry to hear about the passing of Bebo and how it happened :(

Sarita Boyette said...

Tiffany, I am so sorry that your grandmother has to go through this awful condition. I'm glad that you have wonderful memories of her to hold in your heart. the fingerpint idea is such a good one. I would have never thought of that. That is so sad about Bebo - I hope the people resonsible for his torture are brought to justice.

Tiffany said...

Tiffany, I am so sorry that your grandmother has to go through this awful condition. I'm glad that you have wonderful memories of her to hold in your heart. the fingerpint idea is such a good one. I would have never thought of that. That is so sad about Bebo - I hope the people resonsible for his torture are brought to justice.

Tiffany said...

Oh Tiffany. You are in my thoughts and prayers :( Your post had me in tears. Your grandmother is beautiful but I'm so sorry you will have to be without her soon :(

I'm also sorry to hear about the passing of Bebo and how it happened :(

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