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FF Sparks (Casual)

A few people have noted that my stress levels have seemed higher than usual this week. I was trying to sort of keep it inside, but I decided it's finally time to talk about why...because I /have/ been feeling fragile, worthless and overreacting slightly to things. And while I've been trying not to dump on others, it's not fair to make them put up with my mood and not know why. Especially since, after this morning, it's worse.

Many of you know how important my maternal grandmother is to me. She used to be both a scientist and a teacher, knowing things about electrical engineering, about chemistry...when I was young, she was a source of endless information. She used to help me with every science fair project -- I'd run up long-distance bills talking to her as I worked on them -- and she'd sit with me as I explained what I was coding, and encourage me. She's an avid reader -- she introduced me to the Oz books, and it was her influence on my Uncle Bob that got him into science-fiction. We used to read an Oz book together every visit -- it was our special thing, and mom and dad knew time had to be set aside for that -- and we even were jointly members of the international Oz fan club. The one visit grandma had laryngitis and couldn't read, I -- with all the solemnity a six or seven-year-old could muster -- informed her we couldn't break tradition, and that therefore I would read the book to her this time. Grandma still laughs when she remembers that.

Whatever influence in my childhood there is that taught me to take all blame on myself, hold myself accountable for things, believe I don't measure up...grandma was the one counter, the one who told me I /could/ achieve things, that maybe I wasn't completely to blame for everything. Her influence -- the belief we should always help others, the belief that the way to make a difference in the world is to make a difference one life at a time -- is a big part of who I am. I tend to think of most of what's good in me is, either directly or indirectly, a product of her influence.

She shapes everyone around her; dad, who had an abusive father and a somewhat distant mother, really looked to mom's parents as his surrogate parental figures in a lot of ways until he and his mother reconciled.

Those of you who read my journal also know that her health is finally failing. She's old, she's got horrible arthritis, and there's a chance she has cancer (but she won't go in for a biopsy...she's seen two members of the family wither and become miserable under chemotherapy before they died, and she says she'd rather not know and face that possibility). Just in general, her health is getting bad. Mom's been out to see her, but Aunt Sally -- who lives with grandma -- is getting tired and worn down, being grandma's transportation and pair of able hands.

Dad and I were going to go out and stay with her sometime early this year, in February; we'd have a chance to be with her, since I've not seen her since my last visit back East, and dad hasn't seen her in even longer. Both of us have been deathly afraid that she'd pass on without us having a chance to see her again, as happened with grandpa; mom went back, saying she didn't want anyone else to see her father when he was so ill and that he didn't want people crowded around as if he were on his deathbed...and then he died, with Michael, dad and I unable to see him. And because immediately thereafter there was a driving snowstorm which prevented flights, we didn't even get to go back for the memorial...something, I admit, I still slightly resent my mother for. Grandma and grandpa had three children, but have only two grandchildren -- my brother Michael and I -- and I still feel it's wrong we weren't there.

Earlier this week, my mother told me that grandmother has pneumonia. It "wasn't too bad" yet, but she didn't think dad and I should go back while grandma's sick anymore, because grandma won't want people crowding her or making her feel like she's on her way out. She says grandmother is 'set in her ways' and that mom will know how to help, but dad and I would only be in the way. She says she thinks it's best for truly immediate family to be there right now. I know mom doesn't mean it this way, but it makes me -- and while he's not said so, I get the impression dad is the same -- feel that somehow we don't measure up. That we're not good enough to go back and say goodbye, not worthy in some way. Flawed.

Mom's going to go back shortly, though, because she wants to help out.

So for the past four days, I've been feeling really brittle and on-edge, thinking back to how eerily similar this is to grandpa's final weeks. Every time I get a phonecall, I dread who it might be, what news they might have. Everything else has seemed more trivial...something I just want to put aside and not deal with, in general.

Early this morning, my fears came true and I got the call.

Grandmother was taken to the hospital early this morning and put on a breathing apparatus because the pneumonia is reaching a threatening stage, and they're not completely certain she'll ever leave the hospital again...and mom, to help out, is flying back but has once again reiterated her ban on anyone else going back and stressing out her mother.

I snapped. I stress about things a lot, but usually the only person I yell at is myself; I can count on both hands the number of times in my life that I've snapped and lost my temper at someone /other/ than myself. I'm really not proud of my behavior this morning... but I broke down in tears, and I yelled at mom that if she robbed me of the chance to see grandma one last time, or any way of saying goodbye -- even if it ended up that it was just the memorial -- I would be really, really upset. In the end, that's what worries me the most. I know grandma's had a full life, and I know she's in pain and discomfort now, and I know that grandfather's waiting for her; I'll miss her, but I know it may be her time. But I can't face the idea of losing her without facing her, holding her hand, and telling her how much she's meant to me. How much she's influenced me.

Mom promised that when grandmother was out of the hospital, dad and I could go back to see her. I wish I could put more faith in it; it's the same promise I got when grandpa was in the hospital with heart trouble.

The phone call's over, and I just feel drained. The phone woke me up, but I have no energy to make my bed, get dressed, nor even any real appetite to bother with breakfast even if I did feel like doing anything.

I close my eyes, and I can remember, as a little kid, being tucked into mom and dad's bed with grandma, pillows piled up behind us and a makeshift bed-tray with tea (for grandma) and hot chocolate (for me), along with snacks. Cuddled up against grandma's side, her arm around me when it still had strength, as she read an Oz book to me.

And so I find myself sitting here, one of the Oz books on my desk...and I can't stop crying.

Edit: I don't think mom's trying to be selfish, and I don't think she even realizes how angry this makes me. I think her 'grandmother won't want people around because it will make her feel like she's on her deathbed' logic is actually /mom's/ motivation; if the family all gathers, it'll feel like it's saying goodbye, and I think mom really is trying to convince herself that grandma will come out of the hospital and have time yet still. And y'know, maybe she will, or maybe grandma doesn't want everyone to gather, but I can't know that. I'm thinking of calling Aunt Sally later and just having her /ask/ grandma whether or not she wants dad and I to come back earlier than planned. It doesn't change the fact that it makes me wonder what's wrong with me that I'm evidently not worthy of saying goodbye to someone so central to my life and who I am. :(

Comments

I've been exactly where you are right now. When my maternal grandfather died, I shut down entirely. I even lost my faith and never regained it. I never got to say goodbye, and it was due to intervention by my parents... trying to spare me due to my age.

If you have the chance to say goodbye, take it. I have always regretted not putting up a fight.

If you need a friend, look me up.

-- ZC
I went through something similar when my grandfather died some years back. The last time I saw him he was healthy. He was taken from us by liver cancer only weeks later and due to circumstances at the time, I could not be there nor make it for the services afterward.
It's such a difficult time, where conflicting requests and wants can tear us up inside. I would be hesitant to harbor resentment for your mother for this - remember her loss is as great as yours. Even still, I think you need to consider seeing your Grandmother regardless what your mother tells you.

-Akari
I'm sorry.

And I'd be tempted to go anyway, ban or not.

But failing being able to go... can you write something to her? Would that at least give you the opportunity to say something? Or call her? It's not the same as in person, but it's something. And she'd know (although I'm sure she already does) and you'd have gotten to say something for your own peace of mind.

And she's right, you know. You're not to blame for everything.
I have talked to her on the phone, before she went into the hospital. (Now that she's in the hospital on a respirator, she can't talk on the phone.)

Still, it's not the same.
If your grandmother passes on before you get a chance to see her one last time, you'll likely resent your mother - and she, I imagine, won't take that well. If you defy her 'ban' and go see your grandmother anyway, you might end up with an angry mother. It's a lose-lose situation either way.

So do what's best for you. Go see her. Don't wait. Pneumonia in the elderly is dangerous, and if she does have cancer, her body is already weakened. If your grandmother truly doesn't want to have visitors, write her a letter and leave it there then return home. But you don't know for sure that she doesn't want you there; all you have is your mother's say-so. You're a grown adult, and don't avoid doing something you may regret for the rest of your live just because of someone else's demands.
I agree completely.
Go see her. You're an adult, and this puts you on equal footing with your mom, in this case. If she gives you shit, politely point out that it was either this or resent your mom for the rest of your life.

Rachel, I've lived through the deaths of my grandmother, my grandfather and my mom. I would never have been able to forgive anyone who wouldn't let me see them when they were dying. I'm speaking from experience: go. Neither of my brothers got to see my mom on her deathbed, and they both regret it bitterly, even though it wasn't anyone's fault. Please go.
It's okay to let it out. It's okay to not have energy to do anything. It's okay to have unexpected emotions, because your brain is working overtime. It's so hard being so far away, feeling so helpless. If you can go, or get a message to her in writing... and do what you believe in your heart is best.

I'll be thinking about you, your grandmother, and your family.
*Many many hugs*

It's all I can offer right now, other than a place to cry when you need to. You're in my thoughts hon.
*snug*

Go see her.

I only got to see my grandmother once while she was in hospital, and while I do remember it - I would have liked to see more of her, and I would have been crushed if I hadn't been able to.

And if your mother is being this selfish - and that's what this amounts to; your grandmother is YOUR grandmother as well as HER mother - then she really needs not to be so self-centered.

Part of it is probably self-denial - she doesn't want to admit the possibility your grandmother won't come out of the hospital. But I really think you need to do this. For yourself.
See, that's the thing. I don't think mom's trying to be selfish, and I don't think she even realizes how angry this makes me.

I think her 'grandmother won't want people around because it will make her feel like she's on her deathbed' logic is actually /mom's/ motivation; if the family all gathers, it'll feel like it's saying goodbye, and I think mom really is trying to convince herself that grandma will come out of the hospital and have time yet still. And y'know, maybe grandma doesn't want everyone to gather, but I can't know that. I'm thinking of calling Aunt Sally later and just having her /ask/ grandma whether or not she wants dad and I to come back earlier than planned.

It doesn't change the fact that it makes me wonder what's wrong with me that I'm evidently not worthy of saying goodbye to someone so central to my life and who I am. :(
I'm sure your mother's very uncomfortable in many ways right now, you're right. And I think calling your aunt would be a good idea, since I don't feel your mother is acting in YOUR best interests, and possibly not in your grandmother's.

But your mother is thinking from her own perspective of what /she/ wants, not what is best for others, and that is what selfishness is. It's not something I am unsympathetic to; this has to be hard on her as well. But ultimately, you should go.

And you're worthy of saying goodbye. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise - not in words, not by deed.
*hug*

I can only reiterate what everyone has said. Go. This is something that you really need to do. Your mother may believe that she is doing the right thing for your grandmother, but she is not doing the right thing for you.

Please go.
I think you should go. You don't even have to tell your mom you are, if you think it'll raise issues. At the very least get your Aunt to ask. But don't let the door just shut, especially when you feel this strongly about it.

Go. Do. Act. You can't just sit and wait on these things.
I think that it is important that you get to see your grandmother if it is at all possible for you to do so. I wish that I had been there for the last few hours when I knew my mother was dying, but I didn't make it home in time..and I still feel guilty about it.

I think that if your grandmother is awake and aware enough to realize that you are there, then she'll be glad to see you. How upset would your mother be if you were to just appear at the hospital without telling her in advance?

If you need someone to pick you up from the airport on this end and take you to the hospital, or wherever..you know I don't live too far from your grandmother and I'd be glad to do anything I can to help out.

I hope for the best for you and your family and my thoughts are with you.

I agree with my mom. About a month, month 1/2 before my grandmother died, we all went down to see her. But then my mom (and my brother? I forget if he went) was going to go down to see her again. This was 2 weeks before she died. My mom offered me the chance to go, but it would mean I'd miss school. I thought to myself, "I just saw her a few weeks ago, and I hate making up the work." She died before I got to see her again. While at the time, my 10 year old brain told me I didn't need to go see her again, it's something I've regret since. I miss my grandmother terribly, and if there was 1 thing I could change about the time I spent with her, it was not going to see her that last time. While I rarely come close to living up to it, my grandmother is often my idol when it comes to how to treat people. She was the most genuinly nice person I've ever met. Now I have to go, but I'll just say again, I really think you should go and see her. If it is the last time, you'll feel better that you saw her. I hope all turns out well.