by thea marie
The ending to a poem I'd previously written about someone very dear to me.
|The fading light has been been extinguished, and she is now an eternal flame in my memories and in my heart.
I wrote this piece last year in November when I went home to be with my family after my grandmother fell gravely ill with pneumonia, which subsequently led to a heart attack. She was lying, so tiny and sick, in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, hooked to all these machines and monitors. There was an Intravenous Unit running fluids from bags over her head into a vein in one arm, while another tube drained the waste fluids from her body into a bag indiscreetly hanging at her bedside for all to see.
We had to spoon feed her, and she spent most of her time sleeping. Her hearing was failing, so even when she was awake; talking with her could be a trial for all of us. Glaucoma had robbed her of eyesight many years before, and the medications prescribed for her, slurred her attempts at communicating.
Despite her illnesses and all of her frailties, she still had her razor sharp mind. She was very much aware of what was going on, who we all were that were taking care of her in that room, and she knew why she was there in the hospital. In her waking moments, she would ask if someone had called this one of her few still-living friends or that one of her nieces or nephews to let them know where and how she was. Then she would rattle off to one of us the phone number from memory, complete with area code.
Born the oldest of six siblings, she was the last of her family to survive. My mother, age seventy-six, is her only child. Although we, my brothers and sister, and I all tried to help where we could, my mother has been her mother's chief caregiver for the past several years.
When my grandmother pulled through this last crisis, she spent a short time in rehab at a local nursing home before she was allowed to return to her own home. Then my mother essentially moved out her house and away from my father, to move in with my grandmother and care for her in her home. It was what she felt she had to do as her mother's child.
That house was a place my grandmother cherished. She had lived there for over fifty years, the last twenty-five of those years, by herself. Even though she was too sick and frail to be left alone, she refused to leave it. That home was hers. It was her. It was where she wanted to be until the end.
“God bless the child that’s got his own.” She used to tell me all the time.
That was how she lived her life. Thinking of that was what inspired me to write “Fading Light”. She never wanted to be a burden on anyone, and I worried how she felt about what the quality of her life had become.
On the afternoon of April 20, 2004, the fading light that was my grandmother was finally extinguished. As I wished for her that day last November, she was gently released while peacefully slumbering. I will miss her, but her presence will always be strongly felt within me.
“God bless the child that’s got his own.”
I have always tried to live by those words. At times it wasn’t easy. Every now and then, I’ve had to ask for help, but even at those times, I would hear her.
“Mama may have, Papa may have, but God bless the child that’s got his own.”
It is her legacy to me. Her spirit and her strength are what she leaves me. The many positive, funny memories are my inheritance from her. I know that she loved me, and that knowledge will sustain me until one day my light fades,is extinguished, and we are once again together.
Good night, Big Ma, I love you, too.
April 20, 2004