Holidays are so incredibly stressful and overwhelming.
I’ve been feeling the pressure lately and there’s definitely a part of me that wants to just shut down and isolate from family and loved ones. There’s never enough money for the gifts I want to buy; there’s not enough time to get to all the people you want to spend time with. There’s a strain on personal relationships and job performance.
I recently spent Thanksgiving in the Dallas area. My parents are trying to sell their home so they’ve moved a lot into storage. I slept on an air mattress on the floor and it was one of the most restful nights of my life. My dad pounded on the door Thanksgiving morning at about 5 a.m. and said “I need to move your car. I need your keys. Rittenhouse [assisted living facility] called and they think Jeanne had a stroke.”
Jeanne is my 88-year-old grandmother. She lived with my parents for several years after her husband, my beloved favorite person in the world, Dah, passed away so I spent a lot of time with her.
She’s incredibly intelligent and loving and I don’t have a single bad memory of her. She has a great sense of humor. She loves bird watching and telling me what the weather is going to be like. She loves being with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She’s as perfect as a grandmother should be.
I’d already been having a pretty emotional week so news of this stroke business opened up the floodgates.
While my parents and my aunt sat with her in the emergency room and later by her hospital bed, I decided I would do what I came to do, which was give thanks with my family. I went to my sister’s house and played Mole Rats on the floor with her kids while we waited for some news.
My parents came by for lunch and updated us that it was, in fact, a confirmed stroke with a blockage in her brain. She couldn’t open her eyes or her mouth but she was still there, as evidenced by some slurred speech. Her left side is paralyzed and she can’t even drink water because she can’t swallow (apparently that’s a brain function) so they were giving her fluids through an IV.
I don’t know how to feel about this. She looked pretty bad. I don’t want her to suffer. I know that if I were in that state, I sure as heck would have checked out. And I think it’s selfish how we sometimes want to hang on to someone because we need them even once they’re ready to move on.
I realize how fortunate I am to have grown up with all four of my grandparents very much in my life. I lost the first one when I was in college. Jeanne is now the last one standing.
When I saw her in that hospital bed on Thursday, she couldn’t see me, so I held her hand and said, “Jeanne, it’s April.”
With her mouth barely open she said, “I love you, baby.”
Maybe for now, that’s enough.
April Towery is the managing editor of The Sealy News. She can be reached at 979-885-3562 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.