(Blame it on the sappy book I just read, the cycles of the moon, the changing of the seasons... whatever. I needed to get this out today)
Five years ago, I had most of my grandparents here with me. Papa George passed back in 1980 when I was 12 years old. I took it hard, but I was still lucky enough to have had my two Grandmothers and my other Papa still around. That is, until noon on April 1st, 2005.
Grandma had been battling cancer and was losing. We knew it was coming. Mom, Dit, Hubs, Punkin and I were all on our way down to Florida, trying to get there in time. As we stood in line at a McDonald's in Kentucky, (or was it Tennessee?), my cell phone rang. I stepped outside so I could hear better as the nurse said, "She's passed. She's gone." My brain switched off for a moment and I looked at my sister as I hung up the phone. We cried for a moment, hugged. "I guess we don't have to rush now."
Our two car caravan arrived at Grandma's house, empty now except for the things she'd accumulated over the years, the memories she'd left, and her son, Mike who had been staying with her. Mike was my Dad for a few years. He'd adopted me (with Mom) and fathered Dit, then things happened, Mom and Dad divorced, and after a while, he chose not to be a part of our lives.
Dealing with Grandma's death, getting her house in order, and handling her estate were difficult. Doing all of that while still being a Mom to the child we brought with, and the two children being watched by friends and family back home was difficult. Doing all that and dealing with the fact that Mom, Dit and I had not seen Mike in 25-30 years was extrememly difficult. I was the executor of Grandma's estate, the go-between, the only one who was willing to talk to Mike. It was a very stressful time for all of us.
Wife, Mother, Daughter, Sister, GrandDaughter, Will Executor. Take care of Grandma's wishes. Keep everyone placated and civil. Walk on eggshells, take everyone's emotions into consideration. Try not to ruffle feathers. Fail. Miserably. Realize you can't smooth it over. Handle distribution of Grandma's things. Put the house on the market. Talk to the lawyer. Are the kids back home ok? Who is watching them today? Is everything handled up there? Talk to Hospice. Forward the mail. Check in with work. Do they need anything? Talk to Grandma's neighbors. Work out what needed to be done for next week's closing on the new home we were buying. Go to the bank. Deal with the fact that the father that didn't want to be a part of my life is suddenly in the same room with me nearly 24/7. Answer Punkin's questions about who that man is and why she hasn't seen him before. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.
After we had done what needed to be done, Mom and Dit went back home. The next morning, Mike left. Hubs and Punkin were getting dressed for the day while I stood in the kitchen talking to Mike. Mike and I hugged goodbye and then he was gone. Hubs came out of the bedroom and held me in the kitchen while I broke down. It was all suddenly too much to deal with. Punkin looked nervous about my outburst when she came into the kitchen. I did what I could to pull myself together and moved forward. There were still some things that needed to be settled and taken care of, but we had done all we could up to that point. We left the house in Florida for the last time a few hours later and that was that.
Time passed. Life doesn't stop, does it?
We closed on the new house, then we closed on the old house, summer came, I had seminars to attend for work, and in July we hosted our first birthday party in the new home. The day before that party, we got word that Grandma's house had sold. I hung up the phone and cried again, relief laced with grief.
Hubs and I dealt with different personal health issues, the kids acclimated to their new surroundings and new school. Just when it felt like things were getting settled, my other Grandmother became sick and passed away. I was not the executor of her will and distanced myself from the business end of her death as much as I could. I was not asked to speak at her funeral -- something that I'm sure was decided by others based on the lingering emotions from my other Grandmother's death the year before. I was an observer at that funeral, included because it was the polite thing to do. That's how it felt to me anyway.
In the weeks before her death, there was speculation as to "what would happen" to Papa now. His health was failing. He was showing signs of Dementia and his hearing was already on the way out. He couldn't be alone. He'd lost his wife and his home in a matter of months. Living in a nursing home has aged him quickly. He doesn't say much when I visit with him, and I don't think he knows me. The man who gave me away at my wedding, the tallest man I knew until I met Hubby has forgotten me and my children. I've lost the Papa I knew. He's a living ghost.
April 1 is a marker of sorts for me, a dividing line. We've made it through the cold, gray winter months and spring is on the way. It's also a reminder of losses, and a time of quiet reflection -- *snork* ok, that sounds completely pretentious, but you know what I mean, right? I think about how (thank goodness!) spring is on the way, the good times with my grandparents, the things they taught me, and how they're still a part of my life.
I'm not a big fan of April Fool's Day. It represents too much for me. I like April 2 way better.