My husband’s grandmother is 103 years old. She is legally blind, deaf, and bedridden, and won’t let go of life. She’s holding on, I believe, to see three of her great-grandsons, three out of the nine grandchildren, nineteen great-grandchildren, and five great-great grandchildren in her family. Of all of them, these three grandsons are her favorites.
Like so many of us grandparents, she helped raise them for eight very special years. Her husband of 52 years had just passed away when one of her granddaughters was going through a very difficult time. At nearly 80 years old, she became the chauffeur (she had to learn to drive and get her license), cook, babysitter, shopper, and religious instructor for these children. It was the latter she was most proud of—to have been part of bringing these boys to learn about God. One of her weekly runarounds was Sunday church.
She recalls those eight years as one of the most wonderful of her life. She was fit, independent, and living life to the fullest. She was making what she probably thought was a lasting impact on her grandsons’ lives. I’m sure she envisioned a life of inclusivity in all their hallmarks: graduations, girlfriends, shared secrets.
She hasn’t seen them since 1992. They are grown men now, maybe even married, but they haven’t visited the woman that helped raise them for eight years.
My husband’s grandmother is an object lesson for remembering and being thankful for the now, for the time we have been given to help raise our grandchildren, for these moments that will never come again. We love them unconditionally now, they need us now, they are grateful now. And through all the hard work and new responsibilities, we are blessed.
At 103, my husband’s grandmother holds on to life in a dark and silent world, yet it is a universe replete with memories. I like to believe she is not waiting for gratitude, but for another chance to tell those three boys: thank you. Thank you for needing me. Thank you for being a blessing.