My grandmother passed away of
cancer on April 5, 2001 in Denver, Co. She had Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma Cancer. After
2 years of fighting the battle to keep her alive, she had finally passed away
in a hospital bed with my mom by her side. When I got the call
from my mom that she had passed away, my first thought was “I was not there for
you mom”! I knew at that moment that things were going to change.
My mother was a single mom. In
order for the bills to get paid, mom worked a lot. My mom relied on grandma for
her strength and support. When mom went to work I stayed with grandma. I could say that I spent all most every day of
my childhood with my grandma. When I went into high school I got to live with
grandma and go to the high school my mom went to.
I remember when my grandparents
told me that grandma had cancer. The year was 1998. I was a freshman in high school. I had just got out of school; American
history was my last class so I was board and hungry. As I walked up the driveway, grandma was
standing by the door. She greeted me with a hello and asked me about my day.
With a strong tone my granddad asked me to come into the kitchen with him and
my uncle Steve. Grandma followed behind
me. Steve was 10 years older than me, so he was 27 but acted like he was 18. We were both making faces at each other not
knowing that in just a few seconds we would learn that grandma was sick. Soon
we would not be able to make a face or even a sound.
Granddad Nolan started off with saying Grandma
was sick. “We need to make things easy for her and help out more” he continued
to say. I remember sitting there thinking “I wonder if granddad knows I’m the
one who took the last pie”! Now 9 years later I look back and I think how
insignificant that thought or that piece of pie really was. Grandma did not look worried or scared; she
just came out with “I have cancer”! I was lost and unsure of what cancer was.
She held my hand and said “I’m strong and healthy. Things are going to be ok”. I never questioned her or asked what kind of
cancer, I never for a moment thought that she would pass away. When grandma
told mom that she had cancer she did it over the phone. “I have good news and
bad news” grandma said. “The bad news is that it’s cancer! The good news is
it’s curable”! Before my mom could even get a word out grandma said that she
had to let her go, but not to worry that she was going to be ok. My mom was
left to think of what had just happened, not understanding what the months
would bring and if she was really going to be ok.
My grandma worked hard all of her
life. She got up every morning at 5 am to go to work come home and take care of
her family. When grandma got sick she did not want any one worry, she never
complained or fussed over her illness. She laughed and came up with chemo
jokes, at any random moment she would take off her wig; she had lost all her
hair from the chemo so that was grandma’s way of making fun of herself. For as long as I can remember; grandma would
always say to me” Not everyone stays Natalie”. Now as an adult I understand why
she would say that to me. We cannot live forever, not everyone stays!
For the next year grandma would
undergo aggressive chemo and radiation treatment. I remember seeing tattoo
marks on her body. The marks were there to pin point were the cancer was, so
that when they did the treatment they would know exactly where the cancer
was. I would say to her “what are they
doing to my grandma?”. She would just laugh and look at her body and shake her
head. Grandma took very good care of herself so she never looked like she was
sick, or a person with cancer. The
treatments seemed to have worked. The cancer had gone into remission.
Grandma was free to go back to her normal
life. She had never really taken time off during the treatment; she had
continued to work all through the cancer treatments. In 1999, grandma retired. My mom threw grandma a big retirement party.
All of her friends and her family attended the party. I remember it as if it
was yesterday; my little sister who was two at the time had fallen and hit her
head. Every one scrambled to help mom. To this day the smell of blood still
makes me sick. A few weeks later Granddad got them an RV and they left to
Arizona, where the weather is warm and it is summer all year round. Granddad
would play golf and she could sit and have a margarita, and they would enjoy
the rest of their life together.
In June of 2000 grandma would go in for a routine
visit. Our family would get the news that the cancer had came back. For a year grandma would undergo chemo
therapy and radiation treatment again. Grandma’s body could no longer withstand
the treatments and would have to stop. The doctors would give the news that it
was a matter of months before she would pass away. During the Christmas
holidays my grandma would have a turn for the worse. She would be admitted into
the hospital and would be at the brink of death. Or family came together; one
by one her kids including me would say our good byes. But to our surprise
somehow grandma pulled through.
I took the last few months of her
life for granted; I still thought she would not leave me. With my mom by her
side I had continued about my life. I had seen my grandma once before she had
really passed away. I went to the house to go see her. She was lying in the bed curled up in a ball.
Her room smelled of her skin cream, Oil of Olay. She looked happy to see me but
also looked ashamed for me to see her like that. Grandma said that she would be
right down, so I gave her a kiss and said I love you. She went into the
bathroom. That was the last time I would see her alive. I would get the call early in the morning that
she was gone. It was time for me to go
down to the hospital and say good bye.
I’ll never forget my grandma, all
the lifetime of memories that I have with her. I would spend hours just sitting
talking to her, looking at her face and hands. I can still hear her voice and
see her face when I close my eyes. I know that I am the person that I am
because of my grandparents including my mom. I close this with saying, enjoy
every moment that you have with the person you love, good or bad times, because
not everyone stays.
Santa Paula Ca