Loving the Hard

The constancy of change, the hell of aging.

The constancy of change, the hell of getting old.

One of The Grandmas is failing. She has moved into a facility and the villain of Alzheimer’s has stolen a lot of her away.

It’s hard.

This is the Grandma who traveled the world. Invited the world to dinner. She loves Giants baseball. She can also be difficult. She yells. She could be caustic. She gossiped. She pissed some people off. Her children tell stories that make me cringe. This is the Grandma that wore a fuchsia velvet pantsuit. Who bought herself diamond rings. Who would buy extra presents to have on hand so everyone would have a “little something under the tree.” She struggled with marriage. She married and divorced and remarried my Grandfather. And her marriage after he passed is the stuff of legends (dark, sad legends). She worked hard. She loves butterflies with the glee of a Disney princess. A delicate creature that seems so unlike her — and yet colorful being just like her. This is the Grandma that came to the play when I only had a job on the crew. And when I did my prop change, she and her friends gave me a standing ovation. And when the director scolded me, she scolded him in the lobby. This is the Grandma that when I introduced her to Little Sir for the first time and asked if she wanted to hold him, she said, “No, it’s okay. I’m over that.”

I recently told her the older I get, the more I see I am like her (in only the best ways OF COURSE) and she said, “Oh, I’m sorry. You thought you’d escaped, didn’t you?”

And as she fades, it has surprised me who has been able to love on and who have not shown up at all. Don’t they know we’re all human? That we have to love our elders? That no one should leave the world alone? That even if she doesn’t know you were there, it is the right thing to do to be there? It shakes my whole idea of love.

It’s hard.

I see a child who suffered and yet has transcended that to love and honor his mother. I see daughters and granddaughters stepping up in ways that are challenging and yet there is an understanding among us that the right thing is often the hard thing.

I see grandchildren and others who benefitted from generosity and hospitality who can’t be bothered.

?????????????????I hear my 4 year old son pray for Grandma not to cry when I didn’t think he saw her tears.

I feel my Grandma grip my hand tightly as we cry together over the constancy of change and the hell of getting old.

It’s hard.

I am honored to be able to give my Grandma the dignity and safety she gave me. She gave it to me when I had no power to get it for myself and now I am able to return that great act of love.

And yet…

I think of the people in my life. The hard ones. And I wonder if I could do the same for them. I know I love when it’s hard. I have parented. And it can be hard. And despite losing out on two marriages, I really did love through hard things. After my marriage ended last fall, I still supported him through a major surgery and recovery.

But I have my limits.

We all do.

Isn’t that why we struggle with God? It is impossible to fully conceive the Unlimited.

And I think of these limits. And I try to accept that mine are okay for me.

And the folks absent from my Grandma’s life now? I try to accept they have their limits and it’s okay for them.

It’s hard.