On Friday, August 6th, the world continued to spin somehow. There were no news reports or long dedications to my grandmother, but she was gone. She died the same day my dad did four years ago. I think the Lord had to send him along because she was still fighting, and it was more than time for her 99-year-old body to rest. In the end, there were still things that brought her comfort. There were still things that pierced the pain and
medication: coffee and chocolate milkshakes.
“That’s good.” My grandmother held the cup of coffee between both of her hands. They shook as she slowly raised the cup to her lips. I put my hands under her hands to help steady. It was 2:00 in the afternoon, and she had just gotten up and around. The renal failure was taking its toll, and she was now on morphine and could barely move. By the next week, she wouldn’t be able to swallow, and she would be bed ridden and mostly unresponsive. But now, even with all her small frail body was fighting, the coffee brought warmth and comfort. She insisted that she sit up and have coffee.
“I just can’t seem to get warm.” She shook her shoulders as we wrapped a blanket around her. “Is it cold outside?” No, we had to explain that it was well into the 90’s. She took another slow sip. “So good. I have missed coffee.” Her voice was weak and hoarse.
My grandmother always liked her coffee hot, hot, hot. Most folks would call it scalding, but for her, it was just right. She was no coffee snob. She would exist with instant coffee mostly and find it satisfying.
Only week earlier, we brought her a chocolate milkshake. It was one thing that she would commit to “eating.” We asked if she wanted chocolate, “Is there any other kind?” It would be her dinner several nights. It was the one thing that we could always bring, and she would always eat. She would even joke that she shouldn’t have a shake for dinner because she would gain weight.
Soon, there would be no coffee or milkshakes. Only small pieces of ice given to her on a spoon.
Near the end, I asked the end of life nurse if my grandmother was really aware. She shrugged. “I assume they all sense something and someone. That’s why I talk to all my patients.” She carefully spooned iced and my grandmothers mouth instantly closed around the spoon.
So, on her last day on this earth. We played some Hawaiian music, prayed, and whispered our goodbyes. I don’t know how much of her was still connected here. I often wonder now if we were more annoying to her and pulling her back from something. I will take comfort that someday I will see her again and she will let me know.