A year ago my grandma passed away. She was 98 years old and up until two years earlier she was still driving and living by herself in an apartment. She was in terrific shape, and spirit. On a videotape interview that my mom recorded, she once said that the only thing she regretted about her life was her terrible relationship with her nuclear family. In the interview she talks about how she began truly living her life when we, her three grandchildren, were born. Her facial expressions are grim as she speaks of her childhood and her past reluctantly, but as she speaks of the more recent years of her life, you could see her spirit rising. We were her life. She made porcelain dolls for us. Each of them with their bright, eccentric, frozen faces still sit in my room today. She also made dresses for us. We were the best things that ever happened to her, and she was a terrific grandma. During the two months before my grandma passed away, my mom and I were practically inseparable from her. I spent many nights at the hospital with her, helping her in any way possible. The nurses were rude, to say the least, and they never checked in on her. So I did everything. I helped her use the commode, I changed her bed sheets when she had an accident, and I eventually changed her diaper when she needed it. I soothed her and held her hand through out the night. My mom did the best she could to help too, but she had a lot of financial work she had to go through to help finalize my grandma’s will. When my grandma was moved from the hospital to the hospice my oldest sister, Laura, came home from Ohio State to be with her. My grandma was in the hospice for four days before she passed away… And we were with her for every moment of it. We never left the hospice in those four days and I’m so thankful we didn’t. My grandma went through the hardest process of life; death. But she wasn’t alone. She had her daughter and her grand daughters with her through out the entire process.
I think if I could speak to my grandma now, we would both agree on the same thing- the importance of family. Family will always be there for you and I don’t think I realized this until my grandma passed away. Her death taught me that if there is anyone you can count on, anyone you can trust to support you through the hardest and most painful times, it is your family. No one else would have been there during her late night hospital visits and her weekend grocery shopping if she had chosen not to have children. She would have died alone.
I believe that you only have one life to live and you should use that life to make yourself happy, before anyone else. But I also believe everyone needs someone and that someone you can trust is your family. Without a family, I think it must be impossible to be happy. My grandma taught me that having children doesn’t have to be a burden like I assumed. She took care of us when we needed her, and we took care of her when she needed us. I believe in the importance of family, and that having one won’t take up precious time of your life, but instead it will make your life.
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