Yesterday my grandmother turned 80. That is a great solid number of years to have in your head. She got all fancied up for the occasion – jewelry, perfume, hair spray, the works. Which was a huge change from her appearance of late. Truly, the hardest thing about watching her suffer with dementia and congestive heart failure is the change in her appearance. My grandmother has always been Stylish and Sophisticated. And seeing her shuffle around in a stained housecoat and backwards grippers socks is depressing.
But she had a great feast yesterday. Chips, dip, cake, and ice cream. I drove down for the celebration and came right back home afterward. Her reaction to me is a sign of how limited her days are here on earth. Normally she would scream and cackle and give me a bear hug. Last night she stared into my eyes and took my hands and said, “Did you ever think I would live to see this day?” I looked right back at her and said, “Grandma. I think you have another 10 or 20 years left to live.” She smiled and winked at me.
I’ve always thought that woman would outlive my dad, myself, and maybe my own kids. She just seems incapable of dying. But I’m not so sure now. She is weak and tired and way too peaceful to have plans on staying much longer. Peaceful was never part of her nature before. It’s strange to watch her in this calm state of surrender.
I am ecstatic that she got to see the evening of her 80th birthday. She got to celebrate it just like she wanted. Before we could cut the cake, she made us all stand up and hold hands and sing “Ring Around the Rosy.” And then the Happy Birthday song. And then we could eat.
It was a perfect way to celebrate 80. I hope my own 80th birthday is just as much fun.