Jumping on Facebook tonight caught me off guard. Why? I don’t know because I got what I asked for. Yesterday, a FB friend shared she was running a race for the Brain Aneurysm Foundation in memory of her mom. Teresa offered to write names on her bib of anyone’s loved ones who had a brain aneurysm. I replied “Grandma Pape” in the comments, then moved on with life.
Tonight I opened FB, and there sits Teresa’s race bib with my request. A mix of stinging, healing tears welled in my eyes.
Grandma Pape was my confidant. She had moved to Holdrege, my hometown, during my critical tween and teen years. I spent many a nights talking about life in her basement as she decorated wedding cakes and made mints. When I moved to New York, she wrote me letters often.
I had just talked to her on the phone for Thanksgiving. Then I got the call that she had suffered a brain aneurysm right after the holiday. Luckily she lived through it, but it was not in a good place to operate. Where would she go? What would she do? I talked to my boss as I had planned to leave N.Y. in January, and they had not found a nanny replacement. I made a deal that if I could go home through Christmas and take care of my Grandma, I would come back for another six months and get them through the school year. My boss took the deal, as she had just shut the doors on her company and would have some down time.
The month of December (1990), I decorated Grandma’s house for Christmas. Cooked her meals of foods I learned about only in New York. We talked about her childhood as the sunset and the Christmas lights came on each night. We beat each other in Wheel of Fortune puzzles. Her fear of the aneurysm erupting hardly ever showed. The doctor had said something about not taking steps/stairs, so she seemed to have some trepidation when she came near her basement steps. Otherwise, we did a lot of ‘hanging out’, as my 19 year old self saw it. I had too little life experience to even begin to understand what Grandma was going through. I just know my strongest memory was going over to my parents’ house to celebrate Christmas, Grandma’s last Christmas. I left for New York the next week after ringing in the New Year and taking down the Christmas tree.
It was a short time -days, maybe a week – before I got the call, my Grandma was in the hospital. She would be gone soon. I didn’t get to go home for her funeral. I knew this would be the choice when I chose to go home for the month to take care of her. It hurt all the same, it just hurt lonely. Today when Teresa posted her bib and I saw “Grandma Pape”, I didn’t feel alone anymore- the pain seemed shared, it seemed understood. Thank you for running Teresa! Here’s a shout out to your mom cheering you on from the streets of Heaven- you are not alone!