June 22nd, 2006

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More Personal Angst

For everybody else, summertime is a time to let loose and relax. And that's true for me, too, but not to the same degree as the average guy. You see, about seven years ago, I literally watched my grandmother die, both slowly and all at once, in the summer. So every year around this time I remember how she looked, and I consider my own mortality, and I'm not too much fun to be around-not that I would be otherwise, but still.

She'd been suffering from lung cancer for a couple years (or longer, but we only knew she had lung cancer for a couple of years), and it had gotten to the point where she was too weak to get out of bed most days. We got a Hospice service to provide medical equipment, and provide daily medical care . . . but the nights belonged to the family. We'd each take a night to watch over her--by this time, she was on a permanent morphine drip for the pain, and one of our nightly duties, every four or six hours (or forget which, specifically) was to replace the drip bag. The second time it was my turn was the night she died. Every so often I feel little doubts creep in--did I accidentally give her too much morphine? Did I do something else that night that was the straw that broke the camel's back? But usually I just think about how I never really knew my grandmother as a person. I was born after her husband died, of a heart attack in his early-mid fifties. I think about how she lived for almost 30 years alone after that, except near the end, her only surviving sister (still alive, but not doing so well, lately--she's almost 100, people. She's been a tough old lady all her life) moved in to help around the house. She was a teacher, and a good one, until she retired about twenty-five to thirty years or so before she died. But all I remember was "grandmother."

It's the personal tragedies that hit us the hardest.

Aaron "The Mad Whitaker" Bourque