Sunday, November 25, 2007

Babi Val

It Rains

It rains
over the sand, over the roof
the theme
of the rain:
the long Ls of rain fall slowly
over the pages
of my everlasting love
this salt of every day:
rain, return to your old nest,
return with your needles to the past:
today I long for the whitest space,
winter's whiteness for a branch
of green rosebush and golden roses:
something of infinite spring
that today was waiting, under a cloudless sky
and whiteness was waiting,
when the rain returned
to sadly drum
against the window,
then to dance with unmeasured fury
over my heart and over the roof,
its place,
asking me for a cup
to fill once more with needles,
with transparent time,
with tears.

Pablo Neruda, "The Poetry of Pablo Neruda". 2005, p 841

Yesterday my Grandmother, my Babi Val, passed away. And while I am sad, I know deep in my heart that it's for the best. For the past 5, perhaps 10 years, she has been affected by frontal lobe dementia or Alzheimer's. Seeing her, immobile and confused, in a nursing home and special care facility was beyond difficult; the Grandmother I knew would never have wanted a life like that. She was no longer her self, no longer the woman whose belly shook while she laughed, no longer the Grandmother who gave me and my sister lemon drops and other sweets.

I guess that's one of the most horrible parts about a disease like this: it not only destroys the life of the individual, but also robs friends and family of the person they once knew. While seeing Babi in a nursing home was hard, it was beyond difficult watching the turmoil and pain that my Dad and Mom went through during her illness. They put on such a brave face for me and Karyna, and did their best to support Babi and each other through this difficult time.

I know that sadness is part of this experience; death is only but part of life's journey. In passing, Babi was freed from the confines of her disease, but those who remain behind are left with her memories, and celebrating the joy of her life. Babi wouldn't want me or anyone else to be sad. Instead, she would look at us, quick smile spreading across her bespectacled face, hands on her knees, and laugh emerging from her belly and chortle:

"Oh kiddo!"

So here's to Babi Val: I love you! Thanks for being my Grandmother. And for all the great memories and good times:

-She made eating PB & J sandwiches fun by cutting them in triangles. Very cool to a 3 year old. (And to a 26 year old)
-On long car trips, she would sneak lemon drops to me and my sister under the watchful eye of my Grandfather
-She would clean my messy room every time she visited. My parents would try to make sure it was "neat", but inevitably my closet would look as though it was throwing up.
-She never hid her flatulence. The louder the better. Again very amusing to a 3 year old.
-She almost never tired of playing ping-pong games with me and Karyna
-She and Grandpa helped purchase a violin for me, and faithfully attended every violin concert, even when I could only squeak out simple minuettes.
-How she would always talk about Nathaniel being "in the service" and then bat her eyes at him.
-She made the best Rutabega
-And Lutefisk
-And Ribs
-But her dumplings never could float
-Her laugh, it would start from deep within her stomach, carry up to her lungs, and burst free from her open mouth.
-"Uff-da" and "Kiddo" - two words I commonly use

I don't know what else to say. Today I am sad. I know that life goes on, will continue. Like a swift river, flowing from one bend to another. I'll still be sad tomorrow, but I'll celebrate her life and the lives of my family.

And I'll be grateful for the time I had, for the the moments I shared, for the memories I will forever keep.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am SO sorry about the loss of your g-ma. Your blog was very thoughtful today about her.