To Light Up a Face

My Grandma's face lights up she sees me - it always has. And now it looks like her own light is fading.

I want to tell you a little about my Grandma, my Mom’s mom.

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She is little – short and plump with a sparkling, infectious laugh. Curly blonde hair, bright blue eyes and dimples.

She was a dancer, loved music and movies and people – oh my God, Grandma loves people! All people. And fearless about people – she was always so ahead of her time with her regard for all people.

I remember one time we were driving through an underpass in Richmond, California and Grandma’s car broke down. She got out and walked over to where a group of young African-American men wearing pants slung below their underwear, gold and fancy sneakers were hanging around their car (doing things that didn’t look too legal). She walked right over and asked if they could help her, “excuse me, young men! Can you help me, please?”, she said in her high, kind of squeaky voice. A couple of guys jumped up and came over and fiddled with Grandma’s car battery or something and got it zooming in no time. Grandma laughed happily and thanked them and they all beamed right back at her.

Another time, Grandma and I watched a Spanish gay love story (we always choose international movies because they came with subtitles) and sat for hours afterwards in the parking lot, talking about love and gay love and how hard that must if your family, laws and culture wouldn’t support it at all.

I took Grandma to movies every week, or out with me. I took her because I genuinely loved her company. I liked her perspective on things, her brightness, and I liked her open-mindedness. It didn’t hurt that Grandma thought I was the cat’s meow either.

Have you ever had anyone think you were the cat’s meow? I hope everyone gets to experience that somehow, in some way.

It’s the best feeling in the world, knowing that this person’s face will ALWAYS light up for you. Knowing that you can be your worst (not that you’d want to, but we all have our days) and this person will STILL find the good in you and compliment you on it. Knowing that despite what anyone else might say, this person thinks you are the smartest, prettiest, kindest person on this beautiful earth.

My Grandma always thought that about me.

She always finds whatever it is that she loves and can compliment me on – that’s my appearance, my ability to drive, my smarts, my adorable children, my kindness or caring for others.

A while ago, I picked her up for our weekend outing, and she told me my hair looked great, then said, “you are KIND; you have it all, honey.” It about made me cry, because I love her so hard, so much, and I love that she cares about kindness like she does.

Grandma and Grandpa Jack
Grandma and Grandpa Jack

Grandma and Grandpa Jack divorced when I was around 4 or 5 years old, but remained cordially friends. They both remarried; Grandpa Jack got divorced again and thereafter only had lady friends. Grandma’s second husband died some time ago.

I don’t think that Grandma was ever told that Grandpa Jack passed away, but since his passing, she has steadily been going down. In two weeks, she’s gone from being fairly active and participating in her “program” to not being able to walk at all, and finding it hard to breathe.

She is in the hospital now.

The doctors think that her age coupled with the connectedness of all of her physical problems means that her own passing is imminent. Hospice is involved and Grandma is on “comfort care”, which means that the hospital is only concerned with making her passing as comfortable and easy as possible.

And I… well, I can’t pretend that I don’t hope in my heart that they have it all wrong. That she’ll really get better and she’ll come back to my brother’s house and we can watch movies together and say, “thank God! That was a close call, I almost lost you, Grandma!”. And she’d laugh that sparkly, happy laugh of hers and say something like, “oh, well, we couldn’t have that, could we, Meriah?! We always have a good time together, don’t we, dear?”

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Meriah
Meriah Nichols is teacher and artist who lives in a yurt off the grid. She is deaf, has 3 kids (one with Down syndrome) and a lot of chickens. She writes about travel, disability, and getting dishes done. She likes her tea Earl Grey and hot.
Meriah

@meriahnichols

#deaf mom, teacher & #disability activist, living in a yurt #offthegrid. 3 kids (1 with #downsyndrome), a camera and a lot of chickens. Never a dull moment
Did you SEE this??? I am shocked, to be honest. It reeks of invasiveness in the most personal possible way. https://t.co/tkXaPX2dfm - 7 hours ago
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