My eighty-six year old grandmother is having surgery this morning… she has several tumors in her bladder and they will try to drain them and assess what her prognosis will be. We drove across the state this past weekend to spend some time with her, and my ailing grandfather, before her surgery.
Earlier last week, I wasn’t sure how I would even be able to talk with her, afraid I would just want to cry at the sight of her. She is our matriarch, the one who still holds everyone together. It is so hard to imagine life without her here with us. As the week progressed, though, I remembered that this is the time that you will never get back. This is the time you have to enjoy every little moment because she might be gone soon. So, we went to the infamous Chief Joseph Days rodeo that is an annual tradition. My grandparents sat in the front row with their family surrounding them. We watched the parade the next morning and had a barbecue Saturday night. I sat with her around the campfire pit in the backyard and she told me how she is praying that her surgery is at least half as good as her sister’s was the week before. Her sister’s breast cancer mass seems to have been removed successfully. They both found out they had cancer a day apart. I told her that I was praying for her and to take care of herself. I gave her a hug and tried not to think that it might be the last time I would see her.
She and my grandfather have lived a long life. Do they eat incredibly healthy? No. My grandfather has Parkinson’s and is a type 2 diabetic. But they have always eaten a green salad with dinner and used to drink a glass of red wine every night before dinner. The best thing that they have going for them is that they have surrounded themselves with their family. They have lived in the small community of Enterprise, where my grandfather was raised, for nearly forty years. After my grandfather became paralyzed from a fall, the family came together and got their house equipped so he could be taken care of at home. It wasn’t easy, but it is what they wanted to do. The day-to-day stress of finding and keeping caregivers is a constant struggle, but that is their choice.
Of course, I want to help as much as possible with dietary changes and supplements for my grandma’s immune system, etc, but we’ll see what the surgery tells us. As she says, she’s 86 years old and should be able to eat what she wants! And I guess, I will just have to be okay with that. She is a feisty one, and I don’t expect cancer to change that.