May 7th, 2002



A posting in Debbie Ridpath Ohi's Blatherings got me to thinking about my maternal grandmother.

My Grandmom and I were extremely close. In some ways, Grandmom was more like a sister who happened to be 45 years older than me. When I was 19, Mom and Dad forced us together for a week, telling each the other "couldn't be left alone." We got back at them for lying to us by eating and drinking them out of house and home by having people over for cocktails and h'ors d'oevres every night. That was one wild week!

Grandmom took me to see "Animal House" -- and loved it. She was as comfortable watching "Lawrence Welk" as she was with the "Beatles." Times changed, and she kept up with them. She may have been a "senior citizen" the last few years of her life, but she was never "old." She could see into my mind in ways my parents never could.

In May of 1980, my Grandmom was lying in a hospital bed, dying of cancer. Grandmom had been in and out of consciousness and had described what it felt like to me when she was lucid.

Towards the end I was away at college (Columbia U) and my parents wouldn't let me come home, instead insisting I plow through finals (even though I was in no shape to deal with them and the school would've exempted me).

On Wednesday, May 7th, 1980, I called Grandmom at her hospital bed to talk to her. My parents put her on briefly. I tried to say a few words to her. She yelled out, "LYNNIE!" deafeningly loud. She babbled a lot in a way you could tell her brain cells weren't quite connecting, yet she knew I was there. The cancer and morphine had made her rather weak, so Dad would hold the phone up to her ear.

On that particular night, Dad took the phone away before I could say, "I love you." Dad and Mom then insisted I stay at school for the rest of finals. I was coming home that weekend anyway because my best friend was getting married that Saturday and I was her Maid of Honor.

That Friday I took the bus to New Jersey. For a change I got to take one from the better of the two companies, which meant I had to wait extra time for my folks to get there. While I was waiting, I called the hospital to talk to Grandmom, figuring a nurse might be able to let me talk to her.

Instead, I got some other lady. I then got transferred to the hospital operator, who indirectly told me "there hasn't been a patient at the hospital by that name since Wednesday night."

What a lousy way to find out your Grandmother died, right?

To this day I wonder if Grandmom died because I never got to say, "I love you."

OTOH, Karmic retribution happens. My mother, who, along with my father, saw to it I blew my finals and had to learn about the death in the worst way possible (except, perhaps, by reading about it in the paper) now always associates "Mother's Day" with her mother's funeral, which was, in fact, held on Mother's Day that year. I will always remember that coffin with the Mother's Day cards in it.

Rest in peace, Grandmom, wherever your and know that I love you.
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