Three years ago, I made a trip to Montana and said a tearful goodbye to my then 94-year-old grandma. She had lived a long life and her health was starting to decline. She was 94 after all. She’s had a few scares over the last three years, but she’s still living.
My mom decided to go visit her last weekend and several of my siblings decided to join her for the visit. I made arrangements to fly up as well and I took Hallie with me. Hallie is our only child who has met my Grandma Lola. She was just a little girl last time she was there and Steve and I figured this might be her only memory of her great grandma. So we had a girl’s weekend and loved every minute.
My grandma’s condition was significantly worse than the last time I saw her. She didn’t remember me, or hardly anything for that matter but she still joked around with me a bit. I kept my eye on Hallie as we sat and visited with her – I was curious as to what was going through her mind. Hallie has prayed for Grandma Lola for years without really ever knowing her and now she would have a face with that name. She hasn’t spent hardly any time around aging people and I could tell there were times she was a little uncomfortable, but then there were a few times even I was uncomfortable.
There is something tender about knowing someone’s time is short. It makes you hold on to every conversation, every giggle, every look and hug just a little bit differently. And who knows – she may live another 3 years – but my heart tells me that’s probably not the case. 97 years is a long time to live and she’s lived it well.
My grandma no longer lives in her home (she lives with her son) but we took Hallie to see my grandma’s house. We walked up the gulch and explored the mountain and walked through her home which sadly no longer feels like her home with my cousin living in it.
My siblings brought their families which was heaven for Hallie to spend a weekend with her cousins. We rented a rustic home/cabin right on the river near my grandma’s house which totally beat renting several hotel rooms.
The view from our porch wasn’t anything to complain about and the fall colors were exactly what someone from Arizona longs for.
We did meet a nice fat spider which we kindly disposed of as well as the mouse that was in the kitchen. Rustic living at it’s finest.
Each day I spent some time with my mom and grandma and the rest of the time we were exploring, or seeing other family members in Montana. We hiked the “M” behind the University of Montana’s campus. The website described it as 3/4 mile, 11 switchbacks, and a 620 feet elevation gain. Seemed simple enough – but it was a serious workout. Those switchbacks were steep but the view was beautiful.
The weekend was great. It was nostalgic. Yet it seemed to offer some closure – in the event it was my last time seeing her sweet face and hearing her silly giggle and hugging her warm body. My goodbye three years ago seemed much harder than this one. Perhaps because I see her deteriorating and know it’s probably time and that’s okay. Part of me is trying to figure out how to get my whole family up there so she can meet each one of my kids and part of me realizes the next time I’m there will probably be in her memory and honor. I’m at peace either way. Love that sweet woman and the daughter she raised to be my mother.