This post is dedicated to my wonderful Grandparents, Les and Florence Kovacs. There’s never a day I don’t think about each of you and wish you were still here with me…I love you both so much and I await the chance to be with you again one day.
Ten years ago, my life changed.
I remember like it was yesterday when my Mother came home and told me and my sister my Grandfather had died suddenly. I remember the overwhelming feelings of sorrow, despair and disbelief that God had decided to take someone so significant in my life. This was the first time I had ever experienced death of a loved one and unfortunately, it had to be someone I loved so deeply. Both my Grandparents had a hand in raising me, but my Grandfather was like another Father to me. He was always so proud of me; from softball and basketball games, to choir concerts, to police youth camp he was always there to cheer me on with my Grandmother by his side. Throughout my teen years up until he passed away, we were nothing short of best friends.
I remember watching my Grandmother throughout the entire process of events. I felt her deep sorrow for her beloved husband but also couldn’t help but notice how beautiful she looked at the wake and the funeral. My Grandmother always has been a physically stunning woman, with what my Mother calls, “the curse” that she has faithfully passed down to my generation.
My Grandfather was buried on a Saturday. After the small family gathering that Saturday, I remember giving my Grandmother a great big hug and kiss and telling her how much I loved her and if there was anything she needed she could always count on me. We planned to go to church for Sunday Mass the next day. As a family, my Grandmother, Mother and my Aunts and Uncles with their families attended the same church we were just in a day earlier. When prayers were raised up for those who needed them, the reader mentioned my Grandfather and offered the Mass in his name. My family and I burst out into tears instantly. Oh, how we so deeply missed him already.
After Mass, we headed back to my Grandmother’s house for some family time. We ate, drank and managed to crack a few jokes and a smile or two. As the family began to disperse around the house and make themselves comfortable, I was in the kitchen with my Mother, Sister, and a couple of my Aunts and Uncles. I remember I was sitting to the right of my grandmother and holding her right hand in my left. She took a sip of her favorite beverage, Diet Coke. When she put the clear plastic cup down, she said, “Wait a minute, wait a minute, I don’t feel well.” My mother immediately asked, “Mom, are you OK?” I will never forget what happened next for as long as I live. My Mother could barely get her words out before my Grandmother gave out this excruciating yell while throwing her hands up in the air.
Panicked, my Mother immediately asked my Grandmother if she was OK, while also noticing the slight droop on the right side of her mouth. My Grandmother never answered her. As one of my Aunts called the paramedics, my Mother being the highly-skilled nurse she is, concluded she suffered a stroke right in front of our eyes. Horrified, we all went to the hospital awaiting the news the doctors would give us about her condition. My beloved Grandmother, did indeed suffer a stroke. A stroke so massive, it impaired the entire right side of her body including her speech, ability to walk and motor skills. I could never begin to express the extensive devastation our family had faced on that day. Just 24 hours after the burial of her husband, we now were faced another harsh reality.
For the past 10 years, my Grandmother lived as a prisoner in her own body. Among not being able to walk, she also was unable to speak clearly or communicate with anyone around her, which left her often feeling hopeless and depressed. As teenagers, my sister and I had our hearts dismantled as we watched my Grandmother suffer. We were fortunate enough to know my Grandmother in her healthy state the longest of all the grandchildren, but that just made it harder to accept. My Mother, who I believe was hit hardest, was at my Grandmother’s side everyday in the beginning to try to rehabilitate her as much as possible. Although she made her best effort, my Grandmother was unable to undo the damage the stroke had done.
It was difficult to visit my Grandmother at times. She would cry often and sometimes her feelings would result in anger, but I know we loved her the best we could despite it all. It took me a long time to accept what happened and move on, but recently that wound has been reopened.
A month ago, my Grandmother was diagnosed with a very aggressive brain tumor. When the doctors examined it, they realized it was untreatable and estimated my Grandmother had less than three months to live. After her diagnosis at the hospital, my Mother decided my Grandmother should reside in the best nursing home available, which coincidentally was her own where she oversees the nursing department.
Grandma did make it to Christmas in which we had a nice day of gifts, hugs and some tears because we knew this would be our last Christmas with her. Grandma looked beautiful in her dress, and even managed to get out of bed, which had been something she hadn’t done to much of since her diagnosis. Karen and I gave her a Celtic cross which we both have one to match. My Mother and Stepfather bought her a new television and some perfume. Overall, it was a very nice day.
I spent Sunday with Mike running around because a huge snowstorm was on its way to do some serious damage. As I went to sleep that night, I said a prayer for Grandma. The next day was declared a state of emergency due to the weather. Unfortunately and fortunately, Mike has an SUV, so he went to work. I was sitting at my desk in my office when I got a phone call from a number that is associated with my Mother’s nursing home. Fear immediately entered into my mind. I picked up and it was my Mother who could barely speak. After trying to tell me what was going on, she handed the phone to one of her head nurses who told me Grandma wasn’t doing well and I should wait until the roads are a little clearer and then come down. I knew this was it. I was distraught when I hung up the phone. I knew I had to see her one final time. I sent Mike a couple instant messages while he was at work to let him know what’s going on. Within 5 minutes he got back to me and said he was leaving work to take me to see her. I was so thankful.
The hour and a half ride over to the nursing home seemed like an eternity. I was so worried she would go without me saying goodbye. Luckily, we got there and I was able to see her. I immediately started to cry when I saw her. She looked so ill and fragile, and very thin due to the lack of eating. My Mother and Sister hugged me and told me to be strong for her. My Mother helped me by asking Grandma to open her eyes so she could see me. I kissed her and told her I was there. During my visit, so many staff members came in to see my Grandmother one last time. They hugged my Mother, Karen and I and offered their condolences. My Mother is really lucky to have such wonderful people work with her every day. They truly support and love her dearly. I know my Mother really needs it considering how hurtful this situation is. I stayed with my Grandma for a few hours before it started to get dark. My Mother was worried about the roads and I was unsure if we would even be able to make it home with all of the news about people getting stuck. We weren’t sure when my Grandmother would go either, so I told my Mother I would be back the next day. I kissed Grandma and told her I loved her so much. That was the last time I saw my Grandma alive.
My Grandma passed away at 1:41 a.m. on Tuesday, December 28, 2010. Thankfully, my Sister and Mother were with her when she passed. We held the wake and funeral services on Thursday and Friday of last week. My family and I are so incredibly saddened with the loss of my Grandmother but know she is in a better place now where she can finally talk and walk again. I also know how terribly much she missed my Grandfather, and I’m grateful she will now be able to see him again.
I love you Grandma and Grandpa, you will forever be in my heart.