There are some people in our lives with whom we are bonded indelibly. My grandma Eve is one of those people for me. As far back as my memories can take me, love wells up inside of me when I think of her. I am her first grandchild, and she often cared for me while I was growing up. There are perks to being the first grandchild. The first of which is that I've had almost 35 years of time with her.
Today, we celebrated her 89th birthday. While I love acknowledging today, it also stirs up fears of when I won't be able to celebrate her birthday. In any case, I have a hard time putting into words the amount of love I have for her. It often feels like love on borrowed time, though.
Tonight, I called her. It was the first time I've had to call her in the hospital. As she picked up the phone, I heard her tell someone in the room that it was probably her granddaughter calling. This made me smile immediately, and that love for her welled up inside.
Part of me is still a lanky legged little girl who is longing to dart up to her with my arms wide open, waiting for my hug and kiss. After all, who loves you like a grandmother? Who loves you so unconditionally without expectations? Only a grandparent who has given up on the parental guilt loves you that way. Only a grandparent glows at the opportunity to take part in the fun associated with a small child and doesn't care much about how that child will turn out.
I've learned so much from her, but again, tonight I am learning more from her.
"Hi Gram. Happy Birthday!"
"Hi honey. How are you?"
I wanted to answer with how I really feel today, but I'm sure she already knows how I feel. I'm terrified this will be my last conversation with her. I'm missing her incredibly, and I know she feels the same way.
"I'm okay. I don't feel well, and my heart is having palpitations. I don't want to talk about that though. How are the girls and Charlie?"
I filled her in and gently asked some questions about how the doctors/nurses thought she was doing.
"Well honey, the nurse is here to help me get ready for bed. I'd better let you go. I love you, and am so proud of you and your family. You're such a great mother. Tell the girls I loved their card."
"I love you too Grams. Happy Birthday, and I hope they let you go home in time for Easter."
"Yes, I'd really like to take part in Holy week, but as my priest says, "You can't always get your way. You get what you need."