My grandmother (mom’s mother) passed away on Saturday at the age of 94. She’s been sick for many years and confined to a wheelchair, but no one ever heard her complain. Her husband, my grandfather, passed away about two years ago. He was a bastard. The things he used to do to his children and wife are horrific. Yet, she stayed with him until he died. They were catholic, so she didn’t believe in divorce. This is something that has frustrated and angered me for a long time. She lived in Portugal, so I didn’t get to see her very often. But she had a special place in my heart.
She was always smiling and laughing, even when she was in pain. She’d ask me tons of questions, and was always interested in my life and what I was saying. Her English wasn’t great, so communicating with her wasn’t easy. I didn’t always understand what she was asking or saying, but she was so patient and never got annoyed. My mom told me that when I was a kid, I was convinced my grandmother was an angel. I was shy around her and didn’t speak to her, but would stare at her in fascination.
Two of my uncles lived with her. She took care of them because they were unable to take care of themselves. One of my uncles was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, and has a brain injury apparently caused by my mom’s father. The other is Autistic. They aren’t young anymore either. So I don’t know what’s going to happen to them now that she’s gone. I have another uncle in Portugal who can help them (he’s independent), but I’m not sure whether he’ll be able to take care of them the way they need. He’s also autistic, on the “high functioning” end apparently, but has a lot of his own struggles to deal with.
Since I got the news about my grandmother on Saturday, I’ve had a lot of questions running through my mind. About life. About death. One that I’m really curious about is how does someone who has been through so much and has hardly ever had a “break” from shit, make it to that age? What makes these people so strong and resilient? Was it that she became stronger through the years and bounced back over and over again, is it genetic, or is it (and this is what I suspect) that she had all those people to take care of, and that’s what kept her hanging on? I don’t think there’s a simple answer, or that I’ll ever really know.
I can’t see myself living for that long. Most days I feel like my days are already numbered and coming to an end soon. My mom feels the same way I do. Throughout the years she has mentioned how she feels she won’t be around much longer. Whenever she makes it to another birthday she’s genuinely surprised. This has caused a lot of distress in me when she’d talk this way, but on the other hand I also understand.
We’re still alive though, we made it through so far. We don’t get to know when our time will end. But we can continue putting one foot in front of the other and do what we can to make the most of the life we’ve got.
Of course, I’m sad that we lost my grandmother, one of the strongest woman I’ve ever known. But I’m mostly grateful that she’s no longer in pain. That she’s at peace. The angel can finally rest.