A Year Ago

One year ago I wrote about a homecoming. That is how I viewed Millie’s death then and how I still view it today. So much of who she was had already left us and all that we had was this delicate shell of her former glory. Her death forced me to think about life and about the after life.

I feel like I evolved as a person in my role as her caregiver. That was her gift to me. She showed me what I was capable of. If I had known in 2003, when we buried my Grandfather, all of the things that were to come I never would have agreed to stay. The version of myself that was still wearing t-shirts from movie premiers and bristling over the lack of good Thai food in a small Alabama town would never have signed up for wheelchairs and adult diapers. She never would have stayed around for tantrums and hallucinations.

But I’m so glad I did.

I sadly still see the frail image of Millie in my mind when I think of her. Just for a moment. The bones. It’s hard to not just have that visual of the final scene. Even though it was so peaceful, so graceful, so gentle and calm. On the heels of that image is this photograph taken just three days before she died:

It is a photograph that captures all of who I was at that moment in time. The duality: New Mother, Loving Granddaughter. And here were my people – the person I am of and the person who is of me- connected. The overlap of their life was the greatest gift the Universe has ever given me. Six months exactly. And part of me wonders if Millie waited that one extra day so that her passing wouldn’t fall on W’s half birthday. I doubt she was fully aware of time and date, but half birthdays are big deals to me (it’s a holiday birthday thing) and her waiting until after midnight just seemed too polite to be a total coincidence.

Mother and I like to think that she is somewhere with my Grandfather. The two of them reunited in death. They leave us pennies and silver coins in unexpected places. They are in the room every night when we sing to W, “I love you a bushel and a peck”. They are on the sidewalk looking up with us when we see airplanes soar over our heads.

I think of Millie daily in all sorts of nooks and crannies of thoughts. Just this morning W’s hair was looking particularly auburn and I so wanted to turn to her and chime, “red in the head!” Which is something silly she used to always say. She had so many silly things. How will I ever remember them all?

But it has been a year without her and our life has hardly been stable. We would be nowhere without the kindnesses of our friends. The bit of good news to share is that Mother did get a call and she has been scheduled for a third interview – an in person interview in the Northeast early next week. We dare to hope.

Comments

  1. says

    i just got chills — my grandfather used to sing “i love you a bushel and a peck” to me and whenever i sing it to bebe now i can feel him with me. he died six months before she was conceived and i so wish there had been some overlap there.

    keeping things crossed for the interview!

  2. Man-annie Oakley says

    You so often bring me to tears… sometimes with zaniness, sometimes with frustration fo you and sometimes because you touch that special spot in my heart that “Sweets” owns. Today it was the latter. I love that they leave you presents, and that you remain so surrounded by their presence. You are so amazingly wonderful and you always leave me in awe. I love you so much and I am wishing mom luck on this 3rd interview. Smooches and hugs!

  3. says

    Ask Millie and your grandfather to help smooth the way, and the 3rd interview will be a piece of cake! I hoping with you…

  4. says

    I too hope. And I loveeee the photo. (I have a weirdly similar one on my desktop, actually. I’ll email it over)! I love keeping my dear departed Nana’s sayings alive by using them myself too. It’s important.

    Hugs xx

  5. says

    Oh Calli – I know they are watching over you and I know Millie will hear you if you say those silly sayings.

    I’m hoping hard for your family too.

    BTW, I don’t know if I’ve told you how gorgeous you look in the pic at the bottom of the page.

  6. says

    I often wonder after all you went through caring for a person with Alzheimer’s if W was not sent to you specifically because someone out there in the universe knew that you would be grateful to have a child with the spirit that W embodies.
    You are a pretty special person and my fingers are crossed for you, W and your mom. Hoping that the 3rd interview is the charm. :)

  7. Holly says

    DARE to hope DARE to dream, what would life be without these things?

    I miss Millie, too…I loved the stories, even the “not so good” ones, because they were always about an amazing love and an amazing family.

  8. says

    The overlaps are an incredible gift, but at least for me they make the overlaps that never happened due to IF all the more painful.

    Thinking of you and Millie so much as I embark on my own caregiving journey.

    Third interview is very promising! Hoping along with you.

  9. Aunt Patti says

    My dear Mom also sang “A Bushel and a Peck” to me and my sister when we were young. Nice to remember! Anniversaries of deaths always bring back memories. Hopefully they will forever be good ones.

  10. says

    You are so loved.
    By everyone you bless with your friendship.

    I have no doubt that Millie and Gpa are hanging around and looking out for you, your mom, and cutiest W… when they’re not off in Vienna, holding hands and dancing together on quiet cobblestone streets. xo

  11. says

    keep writing them down. that’s how you’ll remember those moments you shared, years from now.

    the overlapping lives is such a gift, for all of you.

    thinking of your family today.

  12. Donna says

    I truly know from my heart what it feels like to say good bye to part of yourself. To let them go to a place that seems unknown to you, but somewhere in your heart is so very real. I often feel Kenny is next to me; just can’t talk to me in the conventional ways. I truly feel him and hear him in my heart. I do not believe the bond is ever broken; it just changes location. Millie and Pop will continue to live because they live in your heart; just as my Kenny will always live in mine. Saying goodbye is never easy. I just say, “I’ll be with you soon.” Love you both.

  13. Care says

    A photo full of memories – very special and precious. And best of luck to your Mother – hope the interview goes wonderfully well!

  14. says

    Good luck Mom!

    Oh Cali. I love you. I totally get you too. I wish I could have had this with my Grandfather. But I do get to have it with my Grandmother, and it’s amazing. (Check out the new photo of them on my family blog.)

  15. says

    I imagine them running through the clouds hand in hand…smiling down on all of you!
    I am full of hope and so many GOOD thoughts for the interview next week–Woot WOOT!

  16. says

    Thank you for this post today!! My beloved grandparents both passed away in early-mid October — Grandpa in 1998 & Grandma in 1999. I still miss them horribly, but I like to think of them being together again, & taking care of my little girl for me until I get there too. Good luck to your mom on her interview!

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