Losing a loved one is never easy. You can never be fully prepared for it. Even if you know that it's coming.
Matt lost his granddad Jim last week and though he had not been doing well for a few months, he really hit the downhill slide after Christmas. They moved him to the nursing home and eventually hospice care came in.
Matt's dad had sent a picture to Matt a week or so ago of the bulletin board in granddad's room in the nursing home and it had a drawing that Sloane had drawn up on it.
But that was not what I saw, what I saw were two things:
- A frail man who resembled nothing like the man I had known my entire life -- let alone the man I had seen just a few weeks before -- his belly was as thin as I had ever seen on him.
- And next to him, lay his wife, Donna, by his side, like always.
They were inseparable! And WANTED to be inseparable! They were the busiest old couple I have ever known: pinochle club, dances on the weekends, Blue Devil sports all during the week, constant food preparation and cooking, which led to Jim's constant washing of dishes and loading the dishwasher.
They just loved to be together. It's hard in this day and age with so many things pulling our attention away from what is most important. Just last night, I told Matt that we could be on our phones for five minutes to look at houses (because I think this is ALL we do right now - look at houses in Chicago!) and then we were putting them away and we were going to watch a TV show together. And who followed those directions? He did. I didn't (house hunting really pulls you in).
But Donna has always been by his side. I remember them from elementary school when Jim was the principal (and terrified me!) and Donna worked as a Title 1 teacher. I remember them always being at ballgames together to cheer on Matt and Michael. Donna even had special shirts she wore to the games, most notably is the "Gramma's Stars" with the boys basketball numbers stitched on stars on her shirt.
Somehow, years later, I sat at their dinner table as a member of the family, with my kids by my side and still semi-terrified of Jim, but helped clean up the kitchen and get the dishes in the dishwasher - almost like my right of passage.
My hope for Jim is that he is up in Heaven, watching over all of us and finally getting to eat the bad food that he had to cut back on a few years ago for health reasons. I hope he is enjoying all of the pie and lemon jello cake his belly can take! And my hope for Donna is that she can still continue to do some of those things that they used to do together and maybe come visit us before we leave and make many apple pies for me! :)
I haven't seen eye-to-eye with this side of the family much this last year. And it's been hard for me to push aside my differences even when we are around them. But this Saturday, I will not be focusing on that, but will be focusing on the life Jim led and the relationship that he and Donna had and remember that Matt and I might not have yet reached that level that they were on, but that we can sure hope to get there one day!