Wednesday, May 30, 2012

She Was a Great One

My great-grandma, Grandma Tompkins (my maternal grandmother's mother) died today.  She was the last of my living "greats."  I don't honestly know how old she was, but she had to be at least in her late 80s.  She lived a long and full life, though the last several years were difficult as she struggled with dementia and failing health.

I am grateful that she died surrounded by family and love, and with permission to go.  I know she is just going on to the next stage of life, a life somewhere else, somewhere better than this world.

Still, it is hard to take, losing the last of a generation.  When I was born, I had almost all my great-grandparents living, and even one great-great grandpa.  I grew up seeing my "greats" in their own homes, independent.  They each had something cool about their houses -- Grandma Tompkins always had miniature Snickers bars in the freezer, Grandma Cooper had her famous Rice Krispie treats, Grandma Welsher had a cool rock and gem collection that I loved to ooh and ahh over, and "Gramps" had MTV before anyone else in my family had cable, and when MTV was still cool.  Slowly but surely, they all started to move more slowly, and their health faded.  Next, it was assisted living.  Finally, the end of days has come for all these great people.  Next it will be my grandparents that go, if the natural order is followed (which, of course, life cruelly reminds us from time to time that it isn't always followed).  That thought is unbearable, and I hope it is a long time away. 

The hardest part about losing Grandma Tompkins isn't that I'm going to miss her -- I haven't seen her in a long time, and she really hasn't been herself in quite some time.  It isn't that she went too soon -- she was ready, and had the blessing of family to let go of this life.  It is the searing realization that life and time go by so quickly.  It doesn't seem that long ago that I bounded into Grandma's house, eager for that frozen candy bar.  It was at least 20 years ago.  How did those years go by so quickly?  When did I get this old?  If I feel that way now, how will I feel when I'm my parents' age, or my grandparents' age, and I see the next generation grow old and die, as they inevitably will?  I miss being a kid, back when everyone in my world was alive and healthy, and they had cool things for me to do and eat.  Doesn't everyone miss those days? 

I know I can't go back in time, but I think I'll make a point to eat a frozen Snickers bar this week.

Rest in peace, Grandma Tompkins.  We love you.

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