Grandma, we’re reaching out to you today to try and help us help you. We know things are different, and life has changed immensely for you. We can assume you’re in deep thought about your time on this mortal coil winding down. We suppose you are going through physical pain and lack of abilities you’ve had in the past. You may be suffering with memory loss. We think you are struggling emotionally and spiritually about time slipping away. But we can’t possibly know everything that’s going on in your mind. We need you to open up, to communicate. Don’t hide your concerns or feelings; share them. You are NOT a burden. You are as special to us as you were 40 years ago. You will not worry us by opening up, telling us how scared you are. We want to be enlightened to your issues so we can help in any way possible. But if we don’t know, there is little we can do—and we want to do whatever we are able. We love you.
We know you are rugged, strong-willed, and stubborn. They are characteristics we’ve grown to love about you. We affectionately refer to you as The Taurus when we sit around the table sipping coffee, wondering how you’re holding up.
Tell us you fell out of bed. Let us in on the fact that you can’t hear very well. We implore you to open up to the fact that you can’t tie your shoes because the arthritis is destroying the physical abilities we all take for granted as younger people. Share that you’ve had nightmares about passing away. With that, we can help. We can talk you through things. We can discuss these issues with your doctors. We can research dreams and what they may represent. We love you.
Who are your friends at the nursing home? Do you like or even engage in the activities or do you close yourself off in your room? Is the meal plan satisfying? Is it too cold or too hot for you? Do you have easy access to the bathroom, or is it an overwhelming process just to get there in the middle of the night? You have four grandchildren who are waiting for a word, a sign, anything that will enable us to assist you and improve the time you have left. We love you.
When you eventually do leave us, we will be crushed. We will be left with memories of your smile that brightens a room, the anecdotes you used to share with us about what it was like when women couldn’t vote, how you cried when JFK was assassinated, the thrill that took you places you’d never been when you rode your first roller coaster, how you always gave us the best back scratches, how you made pancakes the way only YOU could, how you succumbed to grandpa’s charm and married him after just two months together, how you were devastated when he was killed in the war, how you had to pick yourself up and move on, how you helped us with our math homework, slipped us a couple bucks so we could buy a soda, how your hugs made us feel safer than we’d ever felt, and how you always loved us unconditionally, even when we got in trouble. Your unparalleled love will not be forgotten and ultimately can never be repaid to the degree it deserves.
So, we write this letter to you with love. Let go of the stiff upper lip, talk to us—we’re listening. We want to please you, put the smile back on your face, calm you, assure you, and try somehow, someway to repay what you’ve given us. It’s time to open up because we are here for you, Grandma.
We love you.