our life's ending

My paternal grandmother, the youngest and only living child of a 13-child family, is ailing. She has Alzheimer's. My grandfather, until just recently, was her sole care taker. He has had to relinquish primary care because of his age and his own physical state.  His love for her is the truest I've ever witnessed.

She doesn't know who I am anymore.  The last time I saw her she seemed to want me to leave, however she was very keen on my husband. It made me smile, even though I understand the gravity of her affliction. To be totally clear on her mental state: she engages her mirrored reflection in conversation. It's obvious that her mind is degrading on a very real and frightening level. 


Recently I was talking with my mom about my grandmother, and I was struck with the thought that it is sad we don't get a choice in our story's ending. 'Sad' seems like a silly word to use in this discussion.  How can I be more clear?  It seems unfair?  Tragic?  Yes, tragic.  


Why can't we order our ending like ordering items off a restaurant menu?. 


I'll have the holding hands with my spouse as we drift off to sleep for dessert, thank you very much. 


And here's another slice of the pie: we don't know for sure who will be left or willing to endure the quite possible dirty work of care taking, should our ending go badly. My grandmother is blessed. If only she could still comprehend how blessed, I'm sure she would love to know how much her man has loved her. 


Certainly it should not matter how or when the end comes, despite our discomfort with not knowing and/or not being in control.  Or should I say, 'my discomfort'


So what then can make us, or me, feel better about this whole situation? 


I suppose to truly accept that life is precious. 

It will end.
We cannot know when.
I need to remember this every day. Of my life. While I still can remember such things.

And finally, treat your loved ones kindly, just in case your ending requires a caretaker. 


Update: My grandmother passed away in August 2015.  We celebrated her life in November 2015 at a memorial in Burnet, TX.  Life is so very precious.

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