Last weekend I went to pick up my grandmother to take her to church. She's so frail now. 95 years old and unable to do the simplest things. I've tried to convince her to go to an assisted living facility, but she won't go.
I went to get her early, because I knew she wouldn't be ready. She wasn't. Half dressed she answered the door.
I looked at her. Pale. Thin. A shadow of her former self.
"Let's get you dressed, Gram," I said as I closed the door behind me. Her small apartment was too warm. It smelled like stale crackers.
I moved her toward her bedroom and she stopped me. I turned around and she wrapped her arms around me, leaned her head on my shoulder and said, "I'm not ready, Suzy,"
"I know," I said, trying to make my voice as cheery as possible, "That's why I came early."
She looked at me, puzzled.
Then I understood.
"You mean you're not read to die?" I asked.
She started to cry and nodded her head. She was shaking. It wasn't just fear that was evident in her eyes. It was terror. My grandmother is terrified to die.
What I wanted to do was to run screaming from her apartment. Run and never look back.
But I didn't. I hugged her for a long time and I said, "Well.... none of us have a choice. We all have to die. Why not think of it as going home instead?"
She nodded her head again, but what I sensed from her was defeat. What did she want me to do? Rescue her?
It's the fear that hurts the most. I'd rescue her if I could. I would.