Boy, January 2024 really just had to get one more hit in, didn't it?
Thirteen days after losing her husband, my grandmother passed away in her sleep at the age of 96. She'd been hospitalized on Friday, and over the weekend it became clear she likely wasn't going to recover, so she was put on Comfort Care. She managed to hold out until Monday night before eventually leaving us to be with her husband.
In many ways, my grandma was the voice of my grandparents for most of my life. Grandpa would sit in his chair in the corner of the room and tell stories and fall asleep watching the TV, but grandma was the hostess. If you wanted to visit Grandma and Grandpa's house, you would coordinate with her. She was never ready for you to leave, because she always wanted to play one more game (usually Five Crowns, or a matching game involving dominos or tiles, I don't really remember that one quite as well). She asked the most questions about what was going on with you. My sister and I stayed with them over Thanksgiving weekend every year for most of our childhood, and we spend a lot of time getting to know my grandma.
She would also get frustrated by the duties of being a host, especially as she got older. She would insist on taking group pictures, setting her camera on a timer as we all posed in front of the piano, a process that took at least 20 minutes for her to figure out. (Ok maybe it was only 5 minutes, but for a little kid, it felt like an eternity to hold your pose while watching the adults getting frustrated at grandma getting frustrated at her camera.) She wanted to handle everything on Thanksgiving, but more and more, the process of getting the food ready would stress her out, even more so as she got too old to deal with a heavy turkey.
I know it must have been hard for them to move out of their house and into an elder's home (even though the home was actually super nice, better than many of the hotels I've stayed in). But in many ways, I think freeing her from the obligations of making food and handling other hosting duties took a weight off of her shoulders. When my wife first met my grandparents, they had already moved into the facility, and Grandma was so much sassier than she had been for most of my life. As my grandpa wandered off down a verbal tangent, grandma waved her hand and said, "Oh, they've heard enough from you."
In that moment, my grandma became my wife's favorite member of my family.
Grandma's hearing got pretty bad over the past ten years, and every time we visited them, she would get really frustrated about not being able to follow the conversation. She was extremely social - she used to be at church three or four days a week for her various social groups, and she made a lot of friends in the facility they moved to.
My grandma and I didn't agree on everything. (For example, we held some wildly different views on many political subjects - Dad once had to sit her down and explain why everything she'd heard about Obama was a lie.) And there were a lot of times where I just don't think she understood me. And that's okay - we were very different people. But she cared so much about the people in her life, and I'm going to miss her so much.