My Grandmother Died Today

RJ Lavallee

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Ruth Lamotte died March 16th, 2007. I have to admit that my relationship with her over the past ten years has not been close; it waned after the passing of my grandfather. My relationship waned for two reasons: apathy and fear. The apathy was inexcusable, born from that arrogance of early adulthood where everything I was doing was too important to reschedule in order to take the time to travel to visit her. Heck, that apathy started in college, even before my grandfather died.

And that apathy hurt me and my grandparents. It's just that I'm not feeling that pain until now. Once my grandfather passed away I thought, “well, I'll make more time to come out here and visit her, get to know Gramma without the pressence of my grandfather's personality. "

Yeah, OK. At the time I was living in Boston with my soon-to-be-wife, Heather, and my grandmother was at her house in Paxton, MA - a forty-five minute drive without traffic. Of course weekend after weekend were filled with plans too important to break in order to take the drive out to see her. One weekend we did make the effort and had lunch with her. The time was well spent, but as we drove away I spoke with Heather about how out of the way Paxton was. I was convincing myself that making the effort was Herculean. I was running from my fear.

At this time my grandmother's dementia was starting to surface - or whatever the proper idiom for the appearance of dementia in a person is. And this scared me. This was not the grandmother I remembered, and instead of dealing with it, instead of helping be part of the solution that retarded the onset of her dementia I added to the problem. I ran. . . metaphorically. Trips were infrequent. The journey too taxing on my schedule - most of the time taken up on weekends waiting around on a Saturday for the time I would pack up some music equipment to go play in a band. Real taxing.

And there she sat. . .in her house by herself, fifty miles away from me. And I was afraid of her failing mind. The little indications of her repeating things over and over, got worse and worse until the last time when I saw her and my mother had to remind her who I was. She remembered, but the memory seemed strained.

I don't know why this scared me so much. Maybe it was because I missed all of the wonderful memories of a quiet, kind, caring soul who was there to serve everyone's needs. Someone who made a mean apple pie, and someone who gave the most wonderful hugs.

I missed her. I miss her.

I wish I wasn't so scared. I wish I had been there for her.

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RJ Lavallee is a freelance writer in Norther California.

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