Monday, November 15, 2010

97 years

First, some ground rules. This can be ignored by 99% of you, who are thoughtful and lovely.

The other day I disabled the ability to comment anonymously. I liked having the option because I have some friends who are not bloggers who liked to comment from time to time but didn’t have a log in, so they would choose the anonymous option and then type their name at the bottom of their comment. This had worked well until recently when a few people have seen fit to abuse the privilege (see my last post as an example).

A couple of days ago someone left a comment, now deleted, on my post about domestic violence which was notable in that it (a) was aggressively rude, (b) was anonymous with no linkback, (c) referenced events during the assault that never actually happened, but which minimized my husband’s culpability and increased my own and (d) came from a local IP address. Curious that.

Look, I welcome open discussion and debate. But if you’re going to divebomb me or my readers with nasty comments like someone throwing rocks from an overpass at unsuspecting cars, I won’t publish them. I post my first and last name and my picture on my blog. I write honestly and from the heart. If you want to enter into a challenging dialogue with me, come out into the light and show yourself. Post with your name and give me a linkback. You don’t have the option of participating anonymously in real life and you no longer do on my blog either.

(Steps off soap box.)

Now, on to more pleasant things.

I spent the last several days visiting with family out of state. My grandmother just celebrated her 97th birthday. She is an amazing woman. She earned a triple degree in college at a time when few women dreamed of higher education, even traveling to Mexico to study Spanish. She has survived polio and the Great Depression, and has seen the loss of her husband, one daughter and most of her friends. In her eighties she volunteered at the senior center, visited patients at the local Alzheimer’s ward, got a computer and learned how to use email so she could keep in touch with her family and friends.

I’ve always been close with my grandmother, but we grew even closer 18 years ago when my mother (her daughter) died. I was in college at the time and used to talk to her on the phone almost every week. We were able to understand the acuteness of each other’s loss in a way that no one else could. Lately though, I had fallen out of touch. I had called less and less. I didn’t know how to tell her about what was happening in my life. My grandmother’s health was failing. Her mind was strong, but her eyesight and hearing were almost gone. I wasn’t sure how much I should share with her and a conversation over the phone just didn’t seem right.

When I got there, I sat down with her in the garden of the retirement community where she lived. While the kids gathered acorns, I broke the news to her as gently as I could. She was sad, she was concerned, she was understanding, but she was not shocked.

I think we carry the misconception that our parents and grandparents lived in simpler times and were somewhat na├»ve, but this just isn’t so. They lived with the same struggles and hopes and quiet disappointments as us, they just bore them silently. Our bodies are old and young. Our hearts are the same.

It was an unseasonably warm day for late autumn and it felt good to sit in the sun and talk with my grandmother. I didn’t realize how much I had missed her. The children regaled us with tiny purple flowers and miniature acorn tops that looked like elf hats, then spun off into the garden to find more treasures.

When we left the last day I hugged her for a long time. I felt her tears on my cheek. I don’t know if she cried because she was sad for what I was going through; or perhaps, with her fragile health, she thought this might be the last time we held each other. Or maybe it was simply because I was hers and she was mine.

Happy birthday Grandmother. I love you.





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47 comments:

  1. oh, I have tears welling up as I type. I'm going to see my Nana tomorrow. Have not spent enough time with her. And like you, I lost my mum, her daughter. I was 28 and had had my first baby. xx Thank-you for posting and your comment policy is a good one.

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  2. You've done it again. *wipes tears*. Thank you Kristin for being the brave and beautiful soul that you are.xxxxx

    PS. How freaking awesome that we got to skype each other today! Wheeeeee!!!

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  3. Beautiful, just beautiful.

    We are staying with Hubby's grandmother over Christmas. I love that my children know their great grandmother so well, as see her as an amazing woman with much to share. We celebrated her 90th birthday this year.

    Once again I love your words. xx

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  4. Wanderlust, your words never fail to move me - such a poignat recollection! Makes me miss my own beloved Nanna who passed away in May, who I simply adored...

    BTW, sorry to hear about the jackasses of the world who are harrassing you anonymously - cowards never prosper (ok, I believe its usually "cheaters", but think the same applies here)

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  5. @ Nikki, I'm sorry you also lost your mum so young. There's never a good time to lose our mothers, but I wish we could keep them around as long as possible. I sure miss mine now.

    @ Brenda, thank you, xoxo. And what a joy to actually talk to you tonight!!

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  6. @ Naomi, grandmothers are a treasure indeed. And I also love that my kids have that connection to their great-grandmother. It's beautiful.

    @ Nappydaze, I'm so sorry you lost your Nanna. And I'm not too worried about the trollish types. They tend to get bored and wander off when their comments go unpublished.

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  7. I miss my Nana too, she's on the other side of the country and I only see her every 2 years.
    I loved all of this post, Kristin, but especially the last bit
    "Or maybe it was simply because I was hers and she was mine."
    It's a beautiful thing to have someone you belong to.
    x

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  8. Treasure that grandma of yours. They are wonderful beings and are irreplaceable. I lost mine 5 years ago and yes, I got over it (get over it) but the world is not the same.

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  9. Man she looks good for 99. Bless her!

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  10. Beautiful photo at the end there, and beautiful post. I'm glad you had a chance to sit down and talk with your grandmother, and I bet she is glad too.

    ps. please excuse the stupid post-er title that Open ID leaves; haven't figured out how to change that yet.

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  11. Ah fantastic - she looks lovely and I bet she is too :-)

    on the other subject I have but one word --

    coward.

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  12. I agree with my previous commenter. The world still has a place for cowards in it... I wonder how these people sleep.

    as for your visit, i am glad that you have been able to gain something out of it and passed it onto us. Happy Birthday to your Grandmother.

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  13. Oh what a wonderful grandmother you have. Happy Birthday to her! *hugs* and love to you all xx

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  14. Oh, you are so blessed to have her still in your life! Enjoy the special moments and sharing that you have with her. Another perspective on things, especially from someone older, is encouraging and invaluable. Hugs to you!

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  15. I'm pleased you have her in your life. You deserve love, and by the sounds of it so does she.

    Happy Birthday to her and big hugs to you.

    As for the other, if only they had a quarter of the bravery and humility that I see in other commenters on your blog.

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  16. How wonderful that you still have your grandma. I never knew my maternal grandmother and my fraternal grandmother died when I was 12.

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  17. @ Toni, belonging to someone in that sense is a beautiful thing, is it not? xx

    @ Steve, I know what you mean. That kind of love and acceptance is irreplacable.

    @ Tenille, I have about 4 different ID's depending on the commenting system and I can't figure out how to change any of them!

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  18. @ Glen & Ratz, agreed, cowardice hides behind the cover of anonymity.

    @ Marilyn, Sandbox Gems & Barbara - thanks for the hugs and the kind words. xo

    @ Eva, I understand. Having lost both my parents and my other grandparents, I cherish her all the more. She brings me great comfort.

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  20. Great post! Wonderful to have a grandmother at that age whom you can still talk to! Glad you reconnected!

    Sorry to hear about the domestic violence comment! We don't have to wonder about the identity of that one, do we? The abusers all operate in the same way! Trying to implicate the other party, when it is actually all their own doing. Busted!

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  21. Thanks Karen - it was wonderful indeed to reconnect. And while he wasn't the source of the comment, you're correct, we don't have to guess at the origin of the doctored story.

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  22. Yes, out parents and grandparents did indeed live similar joys and despairs to us, the only difference was the resources available for the period. But I think you were right to wait until you saw your grandmother to tell her what's been happening. They worry about us and until they see for themselves that we are coping, until they can get the details and be sure there's nothing they can do, they get uptight. And unfortunately, at the extremes of age, our minds and bodies don't manage as well as during our more virile years. I'm sure your grandmother feels better by having spoken to you directly.

    Sorry you had to turn off the anon thing, but I understand. I can't link to my own URL with this setup, so I'm using my old Blogger account. X

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  23. That's just beautiful. All of my grandparents are no longer with us, but I treasure that bond we had.

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  24. Isn't it funny, how strong and fragile family bonds can be? So permanent, but so easy to lose xoxox

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  25. Beautifully written. And I LOVE the part where we can't participate anonymously in real life... so true x

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  26. @ Watershedd, I wonder why it's not letting you use your Forks-in-the-Road link. Odd. I'll look into that.

    @ Sharon, thanks, it is quite a special bond.

    @ Lori, so true! They take nurturing.

    @ Veggie Mama, yes, a friend made that comment to me yesterday as we discussed this and I liked it so much I shamelessly stole it from her (she was pleased)!

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  27. A truly gorgeous post. Your grandmother sounds A-MAZ-ING. 97! Woot!

    xxx

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  28. I have only just found your wonderful blog.
    I smiled and cried when I read this post. Thank you for the reminder to visit my Grandmother. We are blessed to still have four generations in our family.
    Take care

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  29. Oh wanderlust. This is my favourite post u have ever written. Our bodies are young and old but our hearts the same. That will stay with me for a long time. It is easy to see where u get your strength, tesilience and nobility from.

    M2M

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  30. I am so glad to hear that you had such a nice visit with your grandmother. That is a super nice photo of your children with her. *HUGS*

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  31. @ Jodie, thank you, she's a beautiful soul. And yes, glad I have her genes!

    @ Mackenzie101, welcome, always nice to see a new face. We took a picture while we were there of the four generations of women. Lovely!

    @ M2M, I was visiting an elderly aunt last year (in her 80's) and remarked to her that even though I was in my 40's, I still felt that same inside as when I was 20. She looked at me and said "so do I". Our hearts truly are the same.

    @ IRL, thank you, I love the photo too. I had it framed for my GM.

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  32. I love how you love your grandma. 97!! Wow, and learning email in her 80's too!!
    My grandma made it to 96, I'm hoping to beat that.

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  33. @ River, I hope you beat it too! I hope we both do. I want to be around to love on my kids as long as possible.

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  34. What a great picture! Your kids are adorable!

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  35. At the end of the day, those that know us know what we are capable of and accept us just the way we are, warts and all. Only cowards will not put their name on their comments.

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  36. 'I was hers and she was mine..' that is just gorgeous.

    Happy FYB Friday. Mich x

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  37. How wonderful that you had each other to grieve together over the loss of your mother.

    She sounds like a remarkable woman.

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  38. Oh wow. That was beautiful! Absolutely beautiful. Thanks for sharing. L

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  39. Anon does not sound very nice at all. Sorry you had to cop more ..coward indeed.

    Grandmothers/Nanas are very special women. Your grandmother sounds like a gem.

    I had a great relationship with both of mine until they passed away in their 80's a few years ago.

    Thanks for the lovely comment on my post.
    Hugs. I know you have been through so much lately.

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  40. Just lovely, I have tears in my eyes.

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  41. I miss my Nana. She was the only grandparent I was priveleged enough to know. Two other died just before and after I was born; the remaining grandfather had Alzeimers and was rarely coherent before he died; and then there was my Nana. I was allowed to walk my dog to visit her, and to pop in on my way home from school. She is probably the first person, beside my immediate family, that I really, really loved. Blessings to you xo

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  42. My granny died this past October at the ripe age of 98. I miss her. I was really sad to see her go, but I am even more grateful for the time we had together. Great post! :)

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  43. Oh, how amazing you still have this lovely soul in your life. And what an absolute gift you gave each other during your visit. Beautiful xo

    And p.s. anon commenters can be so tedious. You expressed it very well.

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  44. Happy birthday to a remarkable woman,

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  45. She's beautiful, Kristin. How lucky you are to still be together. You are right, times have changed, experiences have not.

    Good on you for banning anon comments. Well said: "You don’t have the option of participating anonymously in real life and you no longer do on my blog either." x

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  46. How lucky you are to have that terrific woman still in your life and also her genes? She looks FANTASTIC (as do you). Well done on the comments policy people like that suck big time.

    Karen

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