Strange Grief

So I haven’t posted here for a bit, because my 89 year old mother-in-law was dying. Regular visits, encouraging family members, providing taxi service to elderly relatives, listening to stories and shepherding my three kiddos through the process of death, dying and grief have sucked up much of my time.

She had been in a nursing home for close to five years and had Alzheimer’s disease so in many ways, she had left us years before.

The interesting thing about holding vigil over someone who is dying, is that you have the opportunity to say “good-bye.” An opportunity you don’t have when there is a sudden death. We knew it was coming at some point. Christmas was celebrated with her at the nursing home because we knew – this was her last Christmas. I actually missed that little party as I was home sick with influenza. I got a quiet Christmas – and my kids got a memory with a Grandmother they have never really known without the specter of Alzheimer’s. 

 I knew my mother-in-law for 27 years and yet through all of this, I felt kind of like an “out-law” instead of an “in-law.” My role was more supportive and I have found that my grieving process is hitting me on the back side of things. While most are feeling a relief that the waiting is over, I still have to deal with other areas of fall-out from her life and legacy. That part is not fun. I won’t go into details. I’m sure every family is different and it is interesting how people will revert to less than functional behaviors when they are under stress. Some of that is hard to deal with and move past, but I am trying.

The next few months will be challenging too. My mother-in-law would have been 90 in just a few weeks. Her birthday will pass without her here. Then Mother’s day and my husband’s birthday. The homestead that she raised her family on with her husband, who died many years prior, is due to be demolished by the end of summer to make way for a much needed, safer highway. We live on that homestead currently. I think moving will be really hard for my husband especially.

So we grieve. We laugh, shed a few tears and remember. Last night we heard our son talking to his siblings and the words he was saying we realized were exactly the kind of thing Grandma would say. In this case it was not a good character trait! Oh, the DNA runs strong and true in his veins!

I’ve been trying to give my kids some memories that they can’t recall so they have some connection to this woman called “Grandma.” I’m going to post a very old video of a song she once taught my son when he was all of 4 years old. He came home from a visit singing this, although I remembered slightly different words. It’s a memory I will cherish. Maybe it will give you a smile and if you love someone, maybe you’ll have cause to sing it too. . .


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