Goodbye’s – I’ve never enjoyed them. Especially the type where you know, that you won’t ever get to say hello again.
Grandma had a fall last week, in her home where she has lived all her life. It takes a strong kind of woman to be living on your own at the age of 93, but she wanted it that way. Her husband passed away over forty years ago and she has been living in the same house solo, ever since. Entering her home is like stepping back into the 1960’s, she hasn’t changed much in her house over the years and I admire her for that, for living so simply.
Mauro, the girls and I made the trek over to Sandringham Hospital. Not an easy feat with Chiara, traveling 2 km’s in the car with her is a mission, let alone 30! We made it – the usual flustered way after the crazy car trips! And as soon as we entered the room, my eyes filled with tears.
I have always seen my Grandmother as a strong, independent and beautiful woman. A Taurean I might add, like Chiara and Mauro. On this day, I saw her fragility and tenderness. She smiled at the girls, and in between consciousness she kept staring deep into my eyes.
Grandma was in palatation, which is just a fancy world for dying. How do you say goodbye? For me, it was in between sob’s of tears. yes I am a piscean…
I went back the following day and spent more hours by her side, yet this time she was not responsive. She looked like she was just sleeping peacefully. I held her hand, I rubbed her forehead and mostly just sat next to her in silence. I wrote, I looked out the window lots and I cried. It was so hard to leave, but it was equally hard leaving the girls with Maur, as they were both still very unwell with whooping cough. It’s hard looking after the girls solo, not only due to Chiara’s extensive needs, but when they are both unwell it can be very challenging, especially on the back of broken sleep again.
Sunday I phoned the hospital a few times to check up on Grandma. Later that night after the girls were asleep, I was about to jump in bed then I got the strongest urge to go and see her. I explained to Maur that I needed to go and we discussed various options then at around 10pm I was in the car and on my way to Sandringham Hospital.
As I entered the room, I felt a deep sense of peace. Tears were flowing down my cheeks, and I prayed and mostly sat with her in silence and love.
Every now and then I’d go for a walk around the ward, to stretch my legs, it was getting closer to midnight. I started to read the ‘decline in elderly’ information sheets, which spoke about the dangers for elderly patients: things like lack of mobility, range of movement, dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing) etc. I couldn’t help but think of Chiara, how bizarre that on complete different ends of the life spectrum, she shares so many of the health “warnings, or risks” of an elderly person. But that is the harsh reality that comes along with her disabilities. A body that cannot move, causes secondary problems to the internal organs and a host of other complications. A reality that at midnight, felt more intense.
There was a moment, when I sat next to Grandma, placing my hand on her hand, I wondered if I would be doing this in the year’s to come with Chiara. Her diagnosis has always come with a shorter life expectancy and it’s something I have tried not to give much focus, my heart and mind just cannot go there. But in this moment, it became so real. I prayed for strength, resilience and that Chiara would live to see many miracles. We are all divinely held, is all I could think in that moment.
To Grandma’s (Merle Hamilton) two amazing daughters Diane and Marilyn, I know her spirit will live long through you both and all the women in our family. My Grandma taught me a lot, by sheer example. As do all the Hamilton ladies. Incredible women, who leave gentle footprints with strong hearts. Nothing more powerful than that.