Monday, August 30, 2010

Farewell - Gramzilla

This path, my MooseBoots journey, provides flashes of the future, hints of what is to come.  Of course, there is no explanation ... hint ... flash ... opportunity ... hint.  It is fairly widely known that I am not completely satisfied in my current position at my current employer.  Perhaps, a new path is emerging ... there have been several coincidences in the last few days.

Let's begin at the start.  My Grandmother has not been well for some time.  She has been bed ridden on and off for months.  She has been in and out of the hospital several times.  She has had numerous surgeries to correct back, hip, and knee issues that prevented her from really living.  Five days ago, she was transported from the hospital, after and extended stay at a rehabilitation hospital and an emergency room, to a hospice facility to receive end-of-life care.

During this time, she had expressed frustration about how long the process was taking.  She had decided that her time was up and that she was ready to die.  I have been a casual bystander for the most part; I played the role of the objective voice of reason for my Mom, Gar.  She relied on me to provide insight into situations without the confusion and fog of family dysfunctions and bickering.  In spite of the fact that I am not completely convinced, she insists that I have been very helpful.  I was also called up to journey to her and try to assess what was holding her back.  I did and relayed the information, which was purportedly helpful.  Then (hint), Gar commented that there may be a place for me in this type of work.

Wendy, the girls, and I went and visited on Saturday after playing a little at a local water park (end of summer deal).  Gramzilla was pretty wiped out, but woke briefly and acknowledged that we were there.  The mood was somber, but this had not really changed much over the last few days.  We stayed for a couple of hours and left.

Sunday, after Wendy's drop off, we stopped in for a quick visit.  One of our neighbors has also not been doing well and we suspected that he was in hospice care too.  I asked and confirmed that he was there; of course, we ran into his wife at the same time.  Wendy spent a while talking with his wife and daughters.  The had been no significant progress with Gramzilla although her pulse had weakened and her breathing had slowed.  So, we left after a bit, offering any assistance we could give to the neighbors.  Wendy also invited one of the daughters over with her child to see our animals. 

The call came in on Monday morning at about 1:45.  Her breathing had changed and she didn't have long.  Now, I didn't get the message until about 6:15, or so, and I had to take chickens in to the butcher.  I texted Gar to let her know.  Then, I rushed about feeding animals, showering, loading chickens with Wendy's help, and left.  I arrived at 7:50.  Gramzilla was certainly different ... gasping, gurgling breathe significant in the last days of life.  Gar began weeping when I walked in the room.  Apparently, she needed a release and support that she was not necessarily getting without Wendy or me present.

The family had gathered and were very somber.  The room was tense with everyone hanging on each gasp ... would there be another?  After a bit, my aunt wanted some music.  She wanted to play some of Gramzilla's favorites ... starting with Wasted Days and Wasted Nights.  I started pandora and typed in the song.  Perhaps I started the whole ball rolling, but ....  I do not believe that this was a sad, somber occasion.  This woman has been struggling with pain and depression for a while.  This should be a celebration of her ability to overcome life's adversities and move on into a new beginning.  Soon, family members were singing along with the songs and telling stories of Gramzilla's life.  There was laughing and joy by the side of her deathbed.  Some family members, including Gar to my surprise, could not condone this and a couple left the room.  Gar did not leave, but I could read the annoyance on her face.  She is an ordained interfaith minister and had dealt extensively with abuse victims and many social services incidents.  I leaned close and spoke softly ... this is their way of dealing with this and it is bringing out stories of Gramzilla.  Who am I to say this?  I have no training, but intuitively (hint) I knew what to say to her to show the need.  It did wonders to relieve the stress in the room and clear the air.

I left to go to the bathroom.  As I walked back down the hall, my neighbors daughter approached ... distraught ... her dad had passed.  Wendy and I have never been terribly close to these people, but we knew them.  She looked to me (flash) for consolation.  I hugged her and assured her that he was in a better place with no pain or suffering.  Then, she floored me with, "my mom would love to see you."  Who am I?  What do I have to offer other than an ear and a sympathetic heart?  She pointed the way down the hall (next door to my grandmother) and walked away.  I hesitantly walked into the room unsure of what to say or do.  I first ran into another of the three daughters and offered her my condolences, a hug, and murmured some reassurance that he would not suffer any more (he was diagnosed recently with painful, uncomfortable cirrhosis of the liver, but he did not drink).  I then approached the new widow.  I guess you don't need to do or say anything in particular; she told me what she needed.  She needed someone to re-assure her that he was better now and that things would be all right.  She just needed someone to listen, to look and see what had happened to her husband, to say that he was a good man, to hug her while she cried at her obviously painful loss (they had been married for 44 years).  I offered any assistance they might need from us and left.

I am an engineer, not a social worker, clergyman, or physician.  I am an apprentice studying Shamanism.  Regardless, I returned to much the same scene I had arrived at in my grandmother's room in the morning.  I called Wendy to relay the message about the neighbor to the other neighbors who had asked.  She offered to bring lunch for everyone.  After a bit, she arrived and everyone enjoyed the delicious food she brought.  Nothing much had changed ... maybe the breathing was bit slower.  She left, the girls were staying, and I walked her out.  When I returned not 5 minutes later, everything had changed.  The gasps were gone and the breathing had changed to very shallow attempts to breathe.  Within 2 minutes, she was gone.  Gramzilla had passed over.  She had completed the transition from this plane of existence to the next. 

The girls were brave and had witnessed the final minutes.  The Precious and Little Fire Faerie drew some pictures and placed them on her chest.  Big Little Sister needed something from home to complete her drawing.  We will be sure to pass it on to be with Gramzilla.

The last few days have been long.  I have seen flashes of were this MooseBoots journey is taking me, but the picture is far from complete.  I have learned of talents I never knew I possessed.  I had used them to offer comfort and insight.  Gar told me later that I had been very helpful to her ... I was only doing what came naturally and intuitively.  I have much to learn, but the last few months, with Tammy's passing and now Gramzilla's, have shown me that the application is far more valuable that the conscious recognition of the knowledge.

Rest in Peace, Gramzilla.  Thank you for helping to shape who I am.


  1. And, perhaps, your eldest daughter has a bit of your intuitiveness. You didn't say, but the letter she wrote to Gramzilla (for your readers who don't read hieroglyphs ;), says, basically, "have a safe trip and see you in the next birth."

    I'd like to add that she was an incredible woman who had so much to teach, and no matter what was happening to her, even when she lost her own husband thirteen years ago, she never forgot to remember other people. I hope, someday, I can be as great as she.

  2. Yes, Dues I think another step in your journey has been revealed. ;)

    Great tribute to your grandmother. As I told Wendy, You all are in my thoughts.

  3. O and Wendy thanks for the translation on the pic... I was scratching my noggin on that one. ;)
    That was a very sweet message.

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  5. I'm so sorry for your loss, especially so quickly following your Aunt's passing. You are right that sometimes you need to be hit over the head to recognize what the Universe is telling you. None of this surprises me, however; I've known you for a long time, and you in this role makes sense to me.

  6. Wendy, it has not escaped my notice they all of the girls seem to have this intuition. They are incredible (thanks in no small part to their Mom).

    Leigh, thank you. I anxiously await the next piece of the puzzle ... I find it incredibly difficult to be patient with this whole process.

    Rach, thank you for your encouragement. It is very surprising, at times, to hear how other people perceive you ... I think we all get stuck in ruts and lose sight of the big picture when it comes to seeing true ourselves.

  7. I'm sorry to hear that some did not like your singing and telling stories as Gramzilla was passing. When my grandfather passed, my grandmother and great aunt encouraged us to celebrate his life and to laugh, rather than mourn. Later, when they passed, we did the same. All of the grandchildren (and by then, great-grandchildren) remember those funerals with fondness.

  8. Dogear6, I think in the end that everyone agreed that she passed in a dignified, repectful manner. We all benefitted from the stories and ensuing laughs.


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