There's no right or wrong way to handle this situation. Whatever works for you is what's best.

My mom called me last Thursday to tell me that my 96-year-old grandma had suffered a stroke, and she was in "bad shape." I always knew that this phone call would come, and for some reason, I thought it would be easier to handle. It wasn't.

She was born in 1920. She had eight kids with my grandpa in Libertyville, IL. My mom is her youngest child. She has 12 grandchildren and too many great-grandchildren to count.

She has buried three of her own children and her husband, but she has never, EVER stopped smiling. I can't even picture her face without a smile on it. I wouldn't know what she looks like without it.



I have countless wonderful memories with her. She used to make me and my sister the greatest mac & cheese at her house. She had a bike with a steering wheel on it that we'd ride. We went on a trip to Washington D.C. with her. She babysat us regularly, sometimes taking us shopping at Gurnee Mills. She got to meet MY son, and spent birthdays and holidays with him. And she always, ALWAYS had two jars full of cookies at her house.


But one of my best memories, from this point on, will be the visit I had with her on Monday.

My mom said that I might not want to see her "like this." I really struggled with whether or not to come visit. This was MY decision, for me. It's okay to not want to see a family member in that condition, too. I would never judge anybody for not wanting to visit.

I didn't think she'd remember me. I haven't seen her much in the last 5 years, when she's lost a lot of her memory. When I walked into her room, she woke up and, of course, SMILED. Her speech is garbled and she's barely understandable, but she managed to say, "I didn't expect to see you." I held her hand while we talked, and when I moved my hand, she motioned for it, looking for it.

As I left, I blew her one last kiss. I didn't even think she saw it or knew that I was leaving. She slowly managed to bring her hand to her mouth and blow me a kiss. I can't believe I held it together at that moment; I'm crying just typing this.


We don't know how much longer she has, but I don't regret seeing her for one second. She's my last living grandparent, and when you move away from family, a loss can be ten times harder. I feel guilty for not being at more family gatherings. I feel like I watched her age in pictures, and not in real life. I'm taking this harder than I ever thought I would. I thought I'd be ready for this, but even at her age of 96, I'm not.

Don't ever feel bad if you can't bring yourself to visit a loved one in hospice. It's not easy. And don't ever let somebody fault you for how you handle the situation, or how you grieve through it. We're all different, and we have different ways of handling things. There's no right or wrong way. Whatever works for you is what's best.

via Pat & AJ
via Pat & AJ

I'm so glad that I captured this moment. I'm so glad that I spent $110 that I didn't necessarily have to spend on train tickets to get to her. I'm so glad that I slept, cried and then slept some more on the 7-hour train ride home. I needed to do it.

Because she blew me a kiss. -AJ

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