When I was 13 my grandfather entered the hospital because of an infection. My grandmother was at his side day and night the whole time except for when she left to smoke a cigarette outside. It was during one of these quick breaks that my grandfather had the heart attack that would put him in a coma for three days and eventually end his life.
The four years between the death of my grandfather and my grandmother’s death seemed like her slow decay from bad to worse. She started out lonely and feeling responsible for my grandfather’s death, but then she became ill, blind, and extremely weak. She seemed to age twenty years in those four, and the creative and spontaneous woman I had once encountered cutting down a tree with a handsaw had become a woman trying her best to simply get from one room to another.
In the times of the Greeks and Romans, it was thought of as the greatest honor to die a heroic death for your countrymen. People did not want to live to a ripe old age. To some extent, I can see why these men would want to die young and in their prime. The hardest time of anyone’s life is the time when they lose everything. I believe that while the culture today focuses on the achievements of the youth, through movies and awards, the people with the most strength and honor are those that are suffering through old age.
My grandmother’s suffered because of the fact that my grandfather, the one who had been at her side since the age of sixteen was gone forever. Everyone has heard the corny line “you complete me”, but for my grandparents this was true. MY grandmother was beautiful, and it was clear that to the moment he died, my grandfather was in awe every time she walked into a room. My grandmother’s calm and tranquil personality relaxed my stressed and overworking grandpa, while he pushed her to get things done. Once he was gone, half of the woman I knew was gone as well.
My grandmother was also a strong woman who never would lower herself to ask for help. Even after she went completely blind, I would still find her looking around for and earring she dropped. However, as time went on, she could no long be independent and had to relay on others for most things. Because of this lose of independence, her life revolved around when her children could take her out to do things. You could see the pain and humiliation in her eyes when she asked us for help.
Like most people, my grandmother slowly grew ill so subtlety that no one could tell the difference from one day the next. She did not have a nationally broadcasted funeral, although she truly inspired me.
The elderly are some of the most heroic people in the world. This, I believe.
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