by - March 7, 2012

I never knew her to be old.  I knew her to be perfect and ageless.  To see her - this her that couldn't possible be her - leaves me feeling helpless and broken, the mocking of mortality cackling in the gurgle of the tubes entering her body everywhere, leaving her unable to talk or move.

She seems startled when I walk in, eyes widen and hand frantic to grasp my own as I stumble over a lame excuse of life so busy and I wish I came sooner and she's all apology and weak squeezing.

Truth is, I was terrified to come - still fresh from the last time I stood over a hospital bed - vigil that ended in death.

But there's life in her yet - she the stranger who lies among machines that prove she's alive.

I try to talk to her but I don't know what to say.  I tell her of the kids.  Of her great-grandchild's birthday party.  Of the boys and their video games.  She rolls her eyes.  Ah, there she is!

I remember her young.  Red hair dimmed with the raising of 5.  Quick with her love and rich with life - letting me eat the maple syrup with a spoon and never letting me win Boggle.  Her home was magic and laughter and rubber boots that smelled of the barn.

I think of all this as I look at her and it's hard to connect the two.  The only thing the same is the love I have for her and I tell her as I say goodbye, kissing her forehead like she would kiss mine in childhood while I snuggled beneath the quilt in the front bedroom at the old farmhouse.  "I'll tell the kids you say hello," I say.

She drops my hand and makes a circle with her arms, lifting them off the sheet, touching her fingers together.

"You want to hug them?" I ask.

She nods weakly and I assure her that I'll hug the stuffing out of them for her.

Her eyes are already closing as I leave and I'm desperate to have her back the way I know her, perfect and ageless - Grandma forever.

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