For the past several days, my grandmother had been sick with “a cold or something,” as my mother described it. As the daughter who lived nearest, it fell to Mom to care for Grandma while she was under the weather. She had been at my grandmother’s consistently for the past two days, getting groceries and aggressively cleaning the house. I made a quick visit on the first day, staying long enough for a quick hello to Grandma; I was selfishly unkeen to stick around and risk catching the bug myself.
On this particular day, my mother had asked me to check up on Grandma, so she could have a break. I was on summer vacation with no other responsibility, and reluctantly agreed. After a couple unanswered phone calls to Grandma’s house, I relented to my mother’s nagging and agreed to swing by her house while I was out for lunch. I pulled up her steep driveway, and immediately saw Grandma’s car parked in the carport. Alright, well she’s gotta be home. I ran up the steps to her door. After several ignored doorbells and knocks, I figured, you know, she hasn’t been feeling well, Mom’s been over here bugging her for the past couple days, I bet she’s just taking a nap and doesn’t want to be bothered. I had learned over countless holidays, when all the daughters would visit, and inevitably attempt to clean the house to their standards, that if you cross my grandmother with an...
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...e ambulance doors. “They’re taking her to Northside Hospital,” she said. “Jack, Grandma keeps telling the paramedics ‘my grandson rescued me, he saved me.’ You did great,” giving me an affectionate pat on the shoulder.
After a month-long hospital stay and hospice care, my grandmother passed away. She never hesitated to introduce me to her doctors, nurses, technicians, everyone as he rescuer, her savior, but those calls of approval would not silence my guilt, replaying sitting in my car, munching on a Chick-Fil-A sandwich, while my grandmother lay helpless on her bathroom floor. Her doctor assured me that the stroke had been too severe; Time had not really mattered, but at the time the notion offered little comfort. But as I grieved, and as time passed, I came to terms with guilt, ultimately believing that Grandma was grateful I was there to “save” her in the end.
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