One of the things about simple living that seems most important, is savoring the moments, big and small, happy and sad. Today, one of those moments came floating back to me and I had to share it.
The memories of my grandma’s illness are fading, and for that I am grateful. In their place, some of the happier moments from that dark time are coming back to me.
See, long before grandma became physically ill, her dementia had stolen the woman we knew and loved from us.
The next morning after my aunt called to tell me she was in the hospital, and that it was serious, I jumped in my car and drove seven hours. The first place I stopped upon entering that little mountain town was the hospital. It was late, well after dinner. She was asleep, and it was shocking how thin and frail she looked, worse than I‘d ever seen her. With trepidation I woke her, gently, and she smiled the smile I knew so well. The angry stranger was gone.
We tried talking a bit, but she would start coughing such hard, racking coughs that I knew had to be painful. Obviously her talking was out. I have always been a better writer than talker, especially in times of stress or distress. I couldn’t think of what to say. Luckily, thankfully, I had brought a back-up plan.
I went to my car and got it, Whimsey: The Talking Pony, one of the books she had read to me over and over when I was little.
“Look what I brought.” I held up the front of the light green cover so she could see it.
“You thought we could read it one last time?” She smiled.
My throat tightened. I didn’t want to think this could be the last time for anything. I didn’t respond, I couldn’t. “Do you want me to read it?”
As I started reading bits of the story started coming back to me. I felt a bit self-conscious sitting in the small room, nurses occasionally walking by in the hall. I read somewhat loudly so she could hear me over the coughs of other patients and their monitors beeping down the hall. She stopped coughing as much and soon her eyes started to close. I read another page or two then stopped. She obviously needed her rest.
The second I stopped her eyes popped wide open. “Why did you stop?”
“I thought you were asleep,” I told her.
“No,” she said. “Just resting my eyes and enjoying the story. Keep going."
So I continued reading, occasionally stopping to check that she was still awake. I only got through a third of the book before she finally did fall asleep.
That was the last time grandma and I ever read Whimsey.