Friday, June 01, 2007


If you're not up to speed on my grandma, check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, and Part 8.
I was going to write about GhettoGas yesterday, but when you've spent 3 years detailing your life on the internet, not acknowledging what's really going on is tough.
Aside from a dreadful GhettoGas experience, my grandma died.
So I figured I'd tell you about it.
My mother called me at my office yesterday morning and as soon as I announced to my coworkers that we were dealing with a "matter of time" situation, I turned off my computer and waited for my brother to pick me up.
I then insisted upon stopping by the Mill Valley Market. When people are dying, you bring food.
Organic, over-priced food.
My grandmother, once a flawlessly-presented, pearl-clad, cocktail-sipping diva has spent the past two years spiraling into dementia. And yesterday, she had a massive stroke, including a siezure that lasted over an hour.
Curry wraps and asian salad in hand, Alex and I walked up to my grandma's room in her retirement home, scared shitless.
We found my mother and an array of medical personel standing around, rubbing my grandma's arms and telling her to breathe.
Oh god.
Oh god, oh god, oh god.
I am not good at this.
I am good at screaming at doctors, demanding better meds and complaining about the smell. But the tough, crappy parts of being so close to someone, you can't help but go through it with them...I'm a mess.
Eventually, my mom needed a break, the nurses left and Alex and I were left alone.
With her.
My grandma.
Who I've known for 29 years.
And isn't really aware we're there.
Suddenly, she had another seizure.
Alex took one arm, instantly knowing what to touch and how to talk. And then, without thinking, I took another.
And you know, it wasn't that bad. It ended in a minute. And for the first time that day, she looked up. At Alex. And clearly, at least clearly to us, recognized him.
And then she was gone again.
The seizures didn't stop, even through Jean arriving to find out "what the hell happened." Jean, of course, is the transgendered hairdresser/saint-sent-from-heaven who shows up to remind us to laugh and relax and wonder what the hell is going on under her clothes.
We love Jean, especially because she chose to distract us by telling us why she hasn't talked to her sister in 10 years.
Anyway, we stayed, we ate, we got in a fight with Nurse Ratched.
Oh, allow me to explain.
Alex and I left my grandma's room because the staff needed to work on her for a few minutes and as we stood in the hallway, my brother decided to sit in an empty wheelchair and wheel himself around. Cue Nurse Ratched,
NR: "Well, that should entertain you."
Alex, to me: "Did she just give me shit?"
Me: "Yes!"
NR moves on as my mother appears, in between phone calls to, you know, family members.
Me: "We hate NR."
Alex: "Yeah, she gave me shit."
Mom: "I've never liked her! No one does."
That's all I needed. She's being snippy. My grandma is dying 5 feet away. And my saintly mother doesn't like her. It was ON.
NR: "Where's your mom?"
Me: "On the phone with her brother."
NR: "Well, I do I say this? Um, how old are you?"
Alex: "How old do you think we are?"
NR: "Giggle, giggle. Oh, well, I just never know, you know, what is okay to tell you. If you'll be able to tell your mom."
Me: "I'm 29. And my name is Beth. My brother, ALEX, is 24. We're probably capable of relaying information to our mother."
NR: "Oh, 29. My daughter is 30. I just didn't know. Because you' jeans."
(Again, WTF?)
Me: Well, they're designer jeans, if that makes you feel any better. (They weren't. I got them at Target.)
NR: "Well, I don't know what to say other than she's comfortable and really, it isn't necessary for you to, uh, be here. We can call you..."
Me: "If she dies? Yeah, I might stay with my grandmother for a little longer if that's okay with you. I could change pants, maybe."
NR wisely chose to ignore this and walked away.
Moments later, again at my grandma's bedside, NR appears.
NR: "Oh here you all are!"
Me: "Yep. And still wearing jeans."
Later, as Alex drove me back to my car, I once again complained about NR's shitty bedside manner.
Alex: "Yeah, but you were giving shit right back. And I dug it."
Well, yeah.
I went home, promising to call my mom every hour or so and check in. My glorious and wonderful roommate took me to dinner, a perfect 4 course distraction until my mom finally called at midnight.
My grandma, age 93, died as my mom and Uncle Ted sang her Irish lullabyes. I think that's a pretty classy way to go.

So there you have it.
Part 9.
My last grandparent.
Who, as I've said over and over and over, was one serious character...


Anonymous said...

I have to tell you, this is beautifully written. You're really talented, Beth. And these "9 parts" would be a great magazine piece. I'm sorry about your grandmother, but your stories and experiences about what you've gone through with her are really touching, irreverant and funny. It must be a really good outlet for you.
Take care.

Marge said...

So sorry Bethy!

Jerry said...

My deepest condolences, Beth. To think I was sad and upset that we didn't hear from you yesterday, but thank you for sharing, as always, in your beautifully written prose.

Brett said...

That was beautiful Beth.

Tim said...

My grandma died the day after Christmas '06. I was lucky enough to be with her when it happened.

Sorry for your loss.

Anonymous said...

I logged on to your blog to entertain myself (again) while I ate (again) at my desk. I didn't realize I would be crying into my taco salad. I am sorry for your loss.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry about your Grandmother.

greg said...

wow. I read this on my mobile phone via Google whilst riding the N and got all choked up. and I NEVER get choked up.

please accept my condolences to you and your family.

Christina said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss Beth. The world seems a little colder without grandparents...Thank you for sharing your experience because it made me remember my own grandmother.

Tom said...

you just made a grown man cry for the first time in a while. I lost my mom and grandma a few years ago. they were irish. and boy did this bring back memories. i also had a medical staff person that furiated me. i kind of laughed at that part. needless to say, being irish and all, my reaction was pretty similar. anyways, sorry about your loss. keep on writing...your really good...

elisabeth said...

I only started reading your blog when the Gavin/RRT saga began, but I check you everyday now. I went back and read the first 8 parts about your grandmother, and they are all beautifully written. My heart goes out to you and your family. I lost my stepdad's sister a few weeks ago, and her funeral was on May 19th, which happened to be my 18th birthday and my senior prom. Your writing made me think of a lot of things about Francette. I wish you all the best

sfmike said...

I prayed for my grandmother to die for a couple of years before her actual death because she tortured my mother so viciously and effectively, and my grandmother herself wasn't happy about her life, her body, her world. So I was glad for everyone when she died. But I still miss her and probably love her more now than when she was living. I'm glad you've preserved your own grandma in your writing.

Reading all previous eight parts of the grandmother installments were amazing, by the way, although you left out my favorite which was when you had to pee at the nursing home and were complimented by some geriatric stranger in an adjoining stall on the strength of your "flow."

becky in oakland said...

I only started reading when the Swiss Miss debacle happened, but I wanted to tell you how deeply sorry I am for your loss. My own Irish spitfire grandma passed away a couple of years ago and it was a really hard thing to endure - seeing her in the hospital, weak and a shell of the woman she formerly was. I'm happy for you that you've been able to preserve your memories of your grandmother in writing. My best wishes to your family at this difficult time.

becky said...

Beth, my thoughts are with you.


Your DC Fan said...

I am very sorry, Beth. I can totally relate to your relationship you had with your grandmother. Mine was the southern version.

Anonymous said...

Today's obituary was fabulous. "...lengthy stay in the South of France..."
Go Yvonne!

Alex C said...

I am sorry for your loss, Beth. Your grandmother is probably reading your blog on the Heaven feed of the Internets, and is giggling about shoe choices.

Hang in there.