Friday, December 26, 2014

Thinking Too Much

Yesterday was Christmas. It wouldn't be Christmas in our family without drama. I was driving my grandmother home after she pitched a pretty big fit about wanting to leave NOW. But she is 98 years old, so I think she has earned the right to feel down, get tired and say things she doesn't mean to say. It's just that it upsets other family members and ends what is supposed to be a joyous day with a chaotic and overwhelming bang.

It's about a 20 minute drive from my parents' house to my grandmother's assisted living residence. Down lazy and winding country roads, past farm houses and new subdivisions. There are even a few hilly areas, which seems out of place in our area. As I listened to my grandmother sob and blow her nose in an old handkerchief bordered with cross stitched apples, I became cold and callous.

She said that she only came because it was Christmas. I'm not coming at Easter; I'm staying home. I told her Easter was a long way off and we would talk about it then. She was feeling old and sorry for herself, like she was too much trouble because she wanted to leave early and everyone had to back their cars out of the driveway so I could take her home. I can't imagine living 98 years, being so terribly tired every day, every muscle and bone in my body aching. Just taking 50 steps to the car must be exhausting. Forgetting little things, not big ones. Things that matter, that make your day function as it should. Where I laid the cup, which direction the key goes, misplacing the cap of the toothpaste on the counter. Grandma is almost completely blind. She feels her way through dresser drawers, clothes on hangers, the perfect towel or nightgown for what she needs.

And as I drove closer to her home and listened to her whine and complain and feel like nobody loved her, I thought about all the heartache and grief I have given my family. The pain I set in motion by deciding to live and stay here on earth but leave my husband and children behind. The financial burden I have caused, what my children went without, and the many women who replaced me as mother in their lives. Some of our relationships have healed, but they will never be the same. I did that. By deciding to live.

And as I listened to Grandma and to my feel-sorry-for-myself thoughts, I saw a bridge in the distance. I thought to myself how easy it would be to just veer to the left, hit the bridge and go off the side. Left because I would hit first; Grandma would have a chance if it was God's will. I could take care of two "problems", two "inconveniences" in one simple motion of my hand.

But I didn't, and I am still here. We both are. For today.