Monday, July 5, 2010

Memoir Monday: Yee-ha, Grandma!

Yada, yada, you know it. I have copied this, as always, from the Trav's blog:
Hey y'all. This little thing is called Memoir Monday, and I'd be thrilled if you gave it a shot. Just jot down a story about yourself, grab the code down there, and I'll link you up to be read by all my wonderful blog buddies. The only rule? It has to be true. I am personally doing what I can to help cure your case of the Mondays. Thanks for playing along!
Comment on Trav's blog post if you want to be linked. Cause I ain't doin' it for ya!

Now, I must thank the gorgeous, bubbly one, Melissa for giving me my Memoir Monday inspiration. I didn't have one of those fairytale Nanna's either Mel. Not like this:

Or this:

No siree. My grandmother, known as Grandma, was flamboyant and funny, extremely bright and opinionated, loving and devoted yet tough. I wrote about her many eons ago, of her love of driving, her Pied Piperesque attraction for the neighbourhood kids, her loss, but someone as large in character as Grandma could not be captured in one post. And so for today's Memoir Monday tale I give you:

Yee-ha Grandma!

Now, you're probably wondering about the red, right? There is a reason, but you guessed there would be, didn't you. Right up until her death, I never saw my grandmother without her face on. This consisted of pancake foundation, loose powder, and Revlon's Red Red lipstick. Even today, twenty years after she has been gone, when I see someone with those truly red lips I think to myself: "Wonder if it's Revlon Red Red?"

On any other elderly woman it would have looked ridiculous. On Grandma, well it suited her. She was strong in personality, and strong in her beliefs. She also maintained her curly blonde hair until her passing, managing to fit in a perm a few weeks before she was hospitalised.

I grew up constantly being told I, as a woman, could achieve anything I set my mind to. Now this, you need remember, came from a woman who was born in the late 1800's. A woman who left and subsequently divorced my grandfather in the 1930's. A lady who sold dresses door to door to farmer's wives who hid the egg money from their husbands. Who went on to become one of the first female Real Estate agents in New South Wales, and who set many a sales record which were unbroken for decades. This woman, who at nearly 91, still was a practising agent, and sat up and signed the business cheques from her hospital bed.

My memories of my grandmother are true and strong today. She had a huge role in forming who I am, and I love it when people (her daughter, Wise Woman included) comment "Oh, you are just like your grandmother!" even when they do not mean it as a compliment. I am a formidable foe, as she was. I have a strong sense of black and white on moral issues, as she did, and I am a loyal and true friend like her.

This incredible woman chose her own way out. Admitted to hospital for a minor health issue (though nothing is minor in your nineties), I did not realise she was ready to let life go. I had completed my degree, was employed in a prominent, successful company, in her eyes I was settled. I was by her side when she went in, and kissed her goodbye before driving back to the city. It was in the days before mobile phones, and so it was early the next day upon my arrival at work I received THE call. Grandma had slipped into a coma and was not expected to live.

I do not know if she realised by instilling her strength of will and ability to fight adversity that I would not accept this lightly. I sadly missed an urgently booked flight by ten short minutes, and instead drove the four and a half hours crying and praying for her to be alive upon my arrival.

We were met by her doctor at reception. "She will not survive the night," he proclaimed to my mother and I. I think now I must have given him the Grandma look of total disdain, for he stepped back, alarmed. I know my thoughts were stupid man, if you think that you do not know my grandmother at all! By this time it was mid-afternoon and outside of visiting hours. Nobody attempted to stop me as I took my place by her bedside. For the next three or fours hours I sat and argued with her in a one-sided debate.

"You cannot do this to me, what will I do without you."
"I love you, if you love me don't give up. Fight, for me if not yourself."
"I won't be okay with this, I can't cope with losing you, please, please come back."

Yes, I was a very self-focused young woman, and looking back it was incredibly selfish an attitude, and really quite arrogant of me. I think the nurses thought I was mad, I know the doctor believed I was delusional. But I believe you may be already aware of the outcome.

It was early evening, and dinner was being served to the other patients. Once more I squeezed her unmoving hand, and said: "I love you" with all the fierceness I could muster in my exhaustion. Her warm fingers tightened around mine, and her frail, dry voice croaked out a cracked "love you too." Yes, my Grandma came back out of love and concern for me.

For the next five days she counselled me, explained her desire to be free of this world where her body was failing her. She did not want to be here if her mind did too, and she explained I needed to let her go. Time to grow up a little.

In one of our last conversations I asked her: "What if you change your mind? What if you get close and decide you want to live?" She gave me THAT look, probably very similar to the one I had given the doctor on arrival. In her words: "I came back for you once, what on earth makes you think I couldn't do it again if I chose?"

Unbenownst to me she had told her daughter, Wise Woman, and niece, that she would not go if either myself or her business partner and dear friend were present. She quietly slipped back into a coma on Saturday morning, and waiting until myself and her partner had left for a brief time, she sighed and slipped away. My Mum and her cousin were there together to support each other to the end. Just as Grandma had decreed.

Sorry if this is not the usual light and funny MM. I had intended it to be, but somewhere along the way it became a post from the heart.

I owe a lot to this incredible, formidable woman and thank God for allowing me to be a part of her life every single day. She is still here with me. Be it in a phrase or a look, or the passionate way I live my life. No halfway measures for the granddaughter of Grandma. It just would not be acceptable.

Oh, and to get the title - you need to follow the link to my old post about her.


Melissa@Suger Coat It said...

I read both posts. They are wonderful. Great work MM.

And your Grandie sounds like a wonderful women. I think her and I (and my Mum for that matter) would have gotten along great guns! Lol

Langdowns said...

That really is a Yee Ha Grandma!!! What a lucky grandchild you are. I too am a lucky grandchild with my own version of a yee ha ... but no Revlon red red. That's a definite winner in my books.
Great post Mad Mother

Being Me said...

Incredible post, MM. Just sublime. And what a tribute. I really get a sense of your Grandma, you write her so fully. And what a woman! Determined to the very last sigh. Wow.

Madmother said...

And to think I didn't even mention her offering the nurses a bounty to "take out Bob Hawke" as he was against euthanasia and she believed everyone had the right to choose when to die!

Vicki said...

This is a wonderful post. I loved reading about Grandma. Awesome lady!

Mrs Midnite said...

Great post, your Grandma sounds like mine!

Jen said...

thankyou for sharing this MM, what a wonderful woman she was and you wrote it so well I truly felt like I was there with you. I can hear through your writing that you have the same strong, no obstacles can hold you back attitude.

Life In A Pink Fibro said...

Great post. Sometimes the hardest thing in the world is the letting go.

Thanks for Rewinding at the Fibro!