When Young People Talk to Old People

Granny died Tuesday. I will miss her, but I am glad she isn’t sick anymore. I’m glad that she didn’t have to live long with others taking care of her. Three days before her stroke she hung out with me at my 35th birthday party until they turned the lights off on us in the restaurant. At 90 years old, she cooked for herself, arranged her own social calendar, cooked for her church group, took care of 3 Labrador Retrievers and 1 Maltese, washed and pressed her own hair, came to all of our events, remembered all of our birthdays and cell phone numbers (or at least remembered what page they were on in her un-alphabetized address book), hosted family dinners, walked unassisted, got out on the dance floor with us learning to put her hands on her knees and drop it like its hot, sent me into spins while doing the Hustle, treated everyone in the world like family and laughed until she cried. She wouldn’t have wanted to have someone take care of her all the time. She was independent way too long to end up like that.

I didn’t know what I would write in her honor here and, while I am sure that I will write more as I reflect on my life with her, today I will recognize her spirit in the other people her age who have visited the family this week. Apparently Granny is not alone in her looseness of lip at this age. Check it:

Hi Alexis. You are going to lose some weight, aren’t you?

Gerri! Obesity! Don’t you know obesity kills people? Why did you let yourself go and get fat-sized?

Well, when I die, I want to be cremated. That way, y’all can take my ashes and give them to my best girl so she can put them in her douche bag and let me run through her one last time!

Wasn’t it India.Arie who said that when young people talk to old people we’d be a better people all around?

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We Have to Get through this TOGETHER

Granny and Her Twin Sister
Granny and Her Twin Sister at their 90th Birthday Party March 23, 2008

I am sad today–sad and disappointed. I am sad because my Granny is on life support now. I am disappointed because while, for a long time, I was encouraged by the way my family has stood strong and supported one another and my Granny through all of this, the inevitable has come — the factions. On one hand there’s the larger group who has accepted that Granny is 90 and has lived a good life, who has read the handwriting on the walls and paid attention to the medical information that is available, who realizes that this is the end. Then there’s the smaller group that hopes against hope and possibly reinterprets the medical information just a bit to suit the denial. There are a few who move between the two groups. At times, like now, the two groups lose focus and turn on each other because neither wants to concede that the other might have valid reasons to believe what they believe. After re-reading the sentences I just wrote, I think it is obvious to all which group I am in. As much as I want everyone to see things the way I do, I acknowledge everyone’s right to deal with this in his own way. But the differences in perspective and accompanying actions are being taken personally now and I stood in the middle for a while trying to bridge the gap. It’s sad that, while my grandmother is clinging to the last moments of her life, we are in the waiting area and hallway divided and offended. I am sure everyone wants to be spending this time with her, thinking of her — but our emotions have gotten the best of us and my biggest fear for my family is unfolding before my eyes — that her death will be the event that divides us forever. She’d be crushed by that reality. I hope with everything in me that we rise above this moment and make her proud.