Unconditional: My grandmother’s heart starts to fail

“How is your grandmother doing?”

I froze.

I was at a bar last night trying to get my mind off of things and I really didn’t want to hear that.

You can tell who is really there for you when things like this happen.  It’s a mixture of the people reaching out and the ones that know when to let it be.  In this case, though I know you weren’t trying to upset me sir, it just…

My best friend heard little about what was going on but wanted to make sure that I was out and about.  He didn’t want me at home miserable and contemplative.

I’m happy I went.

I reached out to a few people about it.  A very tiny handful of friends whom mostly know only bits and pieces off of twitter.  I really don’t enjoy talking about it.

When I got the news yesterday with her updated condition, I broke down.  I feel horrible saying that I wish I had my camera for it.  In my mind that day will forever be encased.

“There’s 3 options.  All of them have risks.  One.  They can give her a full surgery and she could potentially die when they’re trying to put her back together.  Two.  They can give her partial surgery and medication.  She can still potentially die.  Three.  They can send her home with just the medication and she would be at risk of a stroke.  She could potentially die.”

I’m in the middle of a starbucks after I’d just walked along Venice Beach trying to unwind.  But I’ll be damned I didn’t care.

“She is not allowed to die right now do you hear me?”

“Grandma doesn’t think its her time.  We’re all worried though.  We’re going to talk about it.  Ultimately it’s her decision though.  I’ll call you and let you know more when I can.  Are you going to be ok?”

“I’ll be fine.  I think I just need to find a bar now.”

The people at the Starbucks turned on music.  I might have been a bit loud.  I don’t think I was.  Starbucks feels more and more cash and carry than ever.  I’m hesitant to go back now.

I’ve been crying off and on since it happened.  My best friend from back home called me to find out how I was.

“Well I think I may be going home.  Awesome huh?”

“Not really.  I’m sorry.”

We talked a bit more.  My brother called back.  I had to take the call.

“It’s John Paul.  I’ll call you back.”

“Goodluck chicky.  I’m here for you.”

“Thanks.  I appreciate it.  I’ll talk to you soon.”

I switched over.

“What’s the status dude?”

“We talked about it and we think it might be best to send her home with the medication.  None of us want her dying on the operating table.  This is what we think she would want too.”

In my mind, that’s not how I would ever envision her going.  That’s not her.  No one believes that.

“I’m going to write Andre an email and try to see what I can do about getting the kids if I can drive out there. Let me talk to dad.”

He handed the phone to him.

“I need you to be strong now.  I want to come home.  Can we please figure out how to do that?  I want to pick up Maddox and Sakura if I drive out.  It’s important.”

“This isn’t the place for kids.  That’s why I didn’t bring Ethan.  He’s never going to follow through with that…”

“Dad, let me try and take care of that.  Can you get me home?”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

More time passed.  I messaged the grip and told him it was an emergency.

“I’ll see when I can get out.  How bad is she?”

“Not good. Please get out soon.  It’s important.”

My cousin (who is close to my dad and grew up here in California) called.  She is a hypochondriac.  She believes she has a heart condition.  Years ago, I thought so highly of her.  Now, I’m not sure what to think.  But for what she was going to say on that call… I’m a bit insulted about.

“We think we’re going to send her home.”

“What?!   No.  That’s just stupid.  She is going to die then.  Not getting that surgery is the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard.”

She continued as my jaw thudded on the ground.

“She has 100% blockage in one area, 90% blocked in another, and 70% in another.  And one of them has a blood clot in it.  Why the hell would that be a good idea?”

I hadn’t heard the specific numbers.  The updates I’d had were the ones I’ve gotten from my younger brother.  My dad was in no position to deal with it.  He didn’t have it in him to tell me.  He didn’t want me to know how badly he was taking it.

“I know dad has to be taking it the hardest dude.  I’m worried.”

“I don’t know Jen… I think its a tie.  Grandpa is really bad too.  They’re both breaking down.  I think Grandpa will likely go soon if she does.”

Right now my family is pushing to be strong.  Those of us who grew up with her.  Those of us who’d spent years upon years with this woman.  What my cousin said really was out of line.  She put herself on a high horse and then spouted off about her own “heart condition” and proclaimed she was more knowledgeable.  But that wasn’t all.

“This is my grandmother and ultimately it’s her choice what she wants to do.  If she was to go home, she would be surrounded by her family and loved ones.  It is better than being in a sterile hospital. I want her better.  But I also want her to have what she needs.”

“That’s my aunt.  My grandmother is her older sister.  I’m just as close to her if not more as you are.  I’m very close to just jumping in the car and driving out there now…”

A few visits with her may have been lovely.  My grandmother is one of those people where everyone quickly adores upon meeting her.  She is genuine, vibrant, old fashioned, conventional, artistic, talkative, and sincere.  She is a rare individual of beauty and art where I doubt anyone could ever compare to.

But my cousin does not know my grandmother.  Not like I do.  Not like my family that grew up with her.  Not my sister and brother that still live a few miles away from her.

She didn’t spend holidays there eating tons mediocre food.  (Sorry my grandmother wasn’t the best cook.)

She didn’t spend holidays watching how she would decorate the inside of the house and argue with my grandfather to help with the outside.

She didn’t watch all of the things that she grew up with remain there as she grew older:

  • some little chairs from when me, my sister and brother were toddlers
  • a tiny piano
  • of dolls, nicknacks, a bulb vintage hanging black & white television, and happy meal toys

She didn’t spend summers painting on the screened in porch.

She didn’t…

She didn’t…

“I’m going to a place that has girls dressed up in nurses costumes for a show.  Come out with me and get your mind off things.” my best friend told me.

“I’ll think about it.”

“Jen, you don’t sound good.  Are you going to be ok?” Molly asked me again.

The other line beeped.  Mo was here.

“I’ll be at a bar.  I’ll be fine I guess.” I told her.

We didn’t feel like buying booze there so we grabbed a flask of vodka and a chaser. Down the hatch it went.  Not to get drunk- but just to feel something different than what I was.  I drank very little.

The new bar wasn’t really great.  I stood there blankly and watched the show.  My best friend and I talked about other things… things that will likely get blogged about later and elaborated on.  Things I’m reflecting on.

The crowd dispersed around midnight.  We headed to our bar.  We walked into…

“How is your grandmother doing?”

I’m hitting refresh on my inbox hoping for that response from my ex.  As soon as he gives me a green light I’m most likely going home quicker than Dorothy with a pair of ruby slippers.  I wish it was all a dream.  Please just tell me this is all a really bad dream.