Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A tale of two grandmas

My Grandma is on her way home, her final and eternal home. She is in hospice now with hours or possibly days to live. I'm sad for my grandpa, I'm sad for my uncle, my cousins, and my mom of course, but I am happy. I am happy for my grandmother. I am not happy for her pain, her anxiety or the way she has spent her last few coherent days, but I am happy her suffering is ending. I am happy that she will be restored and made new. I am happy that her battle with untreated, and severe mental illness is almost over and I am happy that someday, I will get to meet the grandma that the rest of my family knows so well.

My cousins and their kids are compiling memories of Gigi, and I am struggling to understand what I can contribute and why our experiences were so different. While I have a few good memories to add, memories of songs, stories, and lobster tail dinners, I have to wade through an overwhelming amount of bad memories to find them.  They grew up seeing the sweet side of her, while I from a very young age experienced the worst parts of her mental illness. I came along a lot later than the rest, and my mom wasn't favored as highly as their dad by Grandma. While they looked forward to her visits and staying at her house, I wondered which Grandma I would encounter. I saw glimpses of the woman my cousins saw, but I also saw something very different. Would I see the one who sang to me, or would I see the one who said horrible things to her daughter, my mother? Would she tell me a story from the olden days or accuse me of trying to blind her and kill my grandfather with my picture book at the age of four? They saw this side of her as they got older, I saw it from the beginning. Their kids remember a sweet old lady, who babysat them, mine remember a scary woman that tried to bite their mother. It's as if we knew two different people. Their dad, was my grandma's favorite, and for some reason my mom, even though she was an amazing kid was never good enough and I knew that she felt that way, I saw it. The last time I saw her, her illnesses both physically and mentally were taking a severe toll, and in the course of a normal conversation about the kids, she started saying spiteful, hurtful things about my mother. So it is hard for me to look past those things and see the sweet doting grandma. My grandmother can really be a sweet woman, but she can also be very cruel.

She suffers from Bi Polar disorder which she has long refused to acknowledge or get treatment for. She experienced a great deal of hardship due to the mental illness of her own family members. She lived through her sister's shock treatments and the suicide attempt that left her sister in a coma for a very long time.  I don't blame her for not wanting to admit she had a problem or seek treatment. The state of mental health treatment during the time she was raised was horrific.

I really don't blame her for all of those things I have heard her say over the years to my mother, horribly cruel things. Nor do I blame her for ripping my niece away from us a day after my high school graduation after calling my mom a horrible mother and telling all my graduation party guests what an awful woman she was. Those things push out my good memories of her, and fill up my memory bank, but I know that's not who she would choose to be. I know she wasn't in her right mind when she said those things. I know that the sweet grandma my cousins knew was the real grandma. The one that I got to see so often was the woman ravaged by mental illness, too afraid to admit that it was there.

I'm glad that the real grandma is getting a chance to return even if it's in heaven instead of here with us. She has suffered a long time, and lived a very full life. Her faith that she held to so strongly for many years will bring her to the God that will make her well. She raised two kids with my grandfather. had 5 grandkids and more great grands than I can count. She taught Sunday School, wrote plays for the church, shared her faith with others and was very generous. She was a good woman, but her illness stole a lot of that from her especially later in life. She has spent her years lately in a home being faithfully visited by my grandfather everyday, and my mom as often as she would allow. Her health has been deteriorating quickly and her body is giving up. It's time for her to go home to the God that loves her, and wants to free her of all of the pain.

So I will try to keep the good memories at the forefront of my mind and honor her in that way. I will try and crowd those other memories out with the memories of the swims in their neighbor's pool, catching fireflies, road trips to visit my cousins and swinging on the tree swing in her front yard.

She had illness but she also had faith. She believed in the same savior that I do. I know he is waiting to welcome her home. My mom found this poem today, and it brings me comfort and reassurance that she will be healed soon. I wish she could have been healed here, and I will never understand why some today are healed and some suffer, but I know Christ is the redeemer, and he will redeem my grandma. I am excited to meet this woman someday, with no fears or reservations about what her mind will make her say, because she will be whole and she will be well, the next time we see each other.

Christ the Healer by my grandma
When the Lord came down from His mountain speaking
The crowds clung to Him still eagerly seeking;
For Christ had captured them heart and soul.
Then a leper came asking to be made whole.
Jesus stretched forth His hand and the man was made well.
When He went on His way, Christ asked him not to tell.

There soon came another, a leader from Rome,
Whose servant was lying so ill at his home.
The centurion was naturally haughty and proud,
But he came to Christ humbly and with his head bowed.
Asking only that Christ speak the words of health --
His faith not his gold was the source of his wealth.

While Christ was staying at Peter’s house,
He healed the mother of Peter’s spouse.
And many others were healed by God.
Through His only son --- Christ’s mercy was broad.
His wonders were many as He healed all those ill.
Even storms out as sea bowed to Christ’s words be still.

As Christ told the Scribes so long ago,
His healing the sick was merely to show
That the main reason for the Savior’s birth
Was to heal all the sins of the men on this earth.
Our bodily ills are ever so slight
Compared to our sick soul’s dreadful plight.

The Pharisees were most distressed
When they observed the men Christ blessed.
They asked the disciples why their Master had dinners
With the Publicans and the worst of sinners.
Christ’s answer to them was sure, strong, and quick --
The Physician is sent for those who are sick.

Christ preached day and night and healed as He went
And prayed to His Father that more might be sent
To carry the Gospel to men of all ages,
We need not be wise men nor eloquent sages.
We need only faith --- God supplies all the rest.
To make us equal to meet every test.

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