How do you say Goodbye to someone that you never really knew? This is the dilemma that I am faced with tonight. A few weeks ago a received the call that my estranged Grandmother was sick and in the hospital. I was told that it might be cancer. The news was shocking, but not like you might think.It was the shocking in the sort of a way that you might feel if a total stranger told you that they just found out that they might have cancer. You feel bad. Of course, cancer is a terrible thing to have happen to anyone. I hate cancer. But more that that, I was upset because I was going to have to be the one to tell my father.
My father, like most Daddies to little girls, is seen through my eyes as stoic and tough. He always has been . He never cries and he seldom admits he’s wrong. He demands respect and he is an authentic man among a world of phonies. My father has never been perfect, has seldom been soft but has always fiercely loved his children. I never wanted to be the one to break his heart.There’s just something about the vulnerability of a man crying, that completely destroys me.
Since the call, my father has returned to the states and we have learned that my father’s mother does in fact have stage 4 cancer that has spread throughout her pancreas, stomach and her lungs. Today, she decided that she does not want to take the medicine any longer because she feels out of sorts. She is a very proud woman, even when she is hooked up to machines and nearing her end. The original timeline was 6 months but with ceasing the medication and giving up the will to fight, we are assuming that it will come much quicker.
I received another call tonight, it was to come and see my Grandmother and say my goodbyes. But the problem is that I’d feel like a hypocrite going to the bedside of a dying woman that I barely knew to say my final goodbye. For me, it would be like standing at the edge of a complete strangers bed and telling them that I will miss them and I love them. The problem is that I DON’T know her.I’m not even sure that I love her more than the stranger on the street.At this point, the only thing that we share is my father and our blood. It sounds so callous and hard to say out loud and I am sure that you think me a complete monster, but I must admit that it is the way I feel. I feel for her that she is dying and she wants to mend her fences before she leaves the world. But she has never wanted to mend the fences before. In fact, she is the one who, metaphorically, couldn’t have the fence the way she wanted it and so her temper got the better of her and she kicked that little fence until it began to break. Instead of fixing that poor breaking fence, every time she passed that fence she kicked it and kicked it until finally one day she completely broke it and then she never looked at the fence again…for 30 years. The fence was of no consequence to her.
My heart aches for my dad, to see his mother dying.My heart aches for her that she will probably never get to mend her fences and for myself and my children, who never really got to know the woman who brought my father into the world. I pray for peace for all of us.