Monday, July 6, 2009

Time Is Running Out

My grandparents are two of the GREATEST people on the planet.  They live in Chicago so unfortunately I don't get to see them as much as I'd like.

When I was in 1st grade my parents went through a bitter divorce and my mom ended up moving us from our home in Chicago to Arizona.  

Things between my parents were pretty awful and we went through a lot of very hard times.  

Throughout my childhood, the one thing that was always pleasant and consistent was my grandparents.  My mom had no money whatsoever.   My grandparents made sure we had everything we needed.  They supplied all the clothes and shoes that my sister and brother and I needed.  They sent us to summer camp, paid for all three of us to have braces and even bought us all the latest toys (anyone remember Pound Puppies?).
Aside from that, my grandparents were fun, loving and just wonderful people to be around.  

They made sure they were a constant part of our lives, whether it was weekly phone calls, or regular trips to AZ, or flying us out to IL to see them.   My grandparents made every effort to be a positive part of our lives when there weren't many others.

As an adult, my grandparents continued to be involved in everything.  And now they are incredible great grandparents.

Through the years I always imagined that they would live forever.  I knew logically this is not possible, but still believed it.  Well now reality has hit.

In April my grandma was diagnosed with lung cancer.  As soon as I found out I knew in my heart that this was the beginning of the end.  I flew out there a few weeks later to see them.  I really wanted to see her before she began treatment.  It was a great trip and I was sure to take LOTS of pictures.

Well, here we are two months later and Grandma is not doing well.  She went through radiation which has pretty much damaged her lungs beyond repair.  She has been sick and miserable for two months now.  In and out of the hospital, unable to eat or breathe well.  

The latest hospitalization is due to pneumonia.  Despite all the radiation she had, her tumor has grown and now she has another one.  Not a good outlook.

It is not easy for her to talk, her voice is raspy and she's on oxygen.  I was able to talk to her on July 4th, which happens to be her birthday.  She sounded awful.  Yet the first thing she asked was "How is Evan's leg?".  I don't even know how she knew about what happened with Evan's foot that day, but that's Grandma!

This Friday I will be taking a trip to Chicago to see my grandparents.  I have never gone there and not wanted to as much as I do now.  I have never had a trip planned to see them and not been filled with excitement.  I am dreading this trip.  But I know I have to go.  I know that time is running out.

Grandma & Papa
April, 2009


  1. Oh Leigh I am so sorry. I can relate so well to your story. My grandparents are the same way. I lost my grandpa about a year and a half ago and grandma is hanging in there but she is struggling. I know the ache in your heart. Hugs. I hope you have a great trip with lots of memories made. They sound like great people.

  2. I know this is so difficult for you. I pray that you have a good trip despite the difficult circumstances.

    Be sure to take lots of time to listen to her's amazing to hear what life was like when our grandparents were young. Ask her questions about how she raised children -- tips in the kitchen -- what she would consider the most important quality in marriage. Ask her to show you tokens and pictures from her lifetime...look at old books...marvel over how times have changed.

    Grandmothers can offer this gift of wisdom to granddaughters. No one can ever take it away from you and it will last for the rest of your life.

    Don't be afraid to approach the subject of spirtuality. Listen intently to her thoughts about Heaven -- during times like these, people have a need to discuss this stuff, but it's, because it's so hard for loved ones, too often things are left unsaid. Don't allow the painful reality to interrupt this precious time with your precious grandmother.

    If you take the time to approach these subjects with love and patience, you will have no regrets.

    Hug her often. Hold her hands. Brush her hair.

    I wish so badly I could do these things with my grandmother. She was always part of my life, but not often physically present. I understand your deep love to your grandmother and would just encourage you to let that love shine -- even though it's hard.

    I'll be thinking of you. Please let me know if there's anything at all I can do. The offer still stands to send Janelle here if you need and it's ALWAYS fine to leave my number whenever you need.