My Journey Home to Maine

My journey started early February when my parents called to let me know my grandmother was ill and had been hospitalized. She was a former smoker and suffered from COPD and very susceptible to flu, colds and pneumonia. My husband never hesitated. I bought tickets and decided to take the youngest, just 4 months, with me. So on a plane we got in Sam Diego and flew straight through to Baltimore where we changed planes and flew on to Manchester. My babe did well. Despite being the last person on the plane to Baltimore and sitting between two men, I still managed to nurse him without incident. The plane to Manchester was different and I sat at the back of the plane next to a fellow Navy wife.
My mom and dad picked me up in Manchester and we drive straight to the hospital in Skowhegan, Maine. The town I grew up in, the place where my grandmother lived since 1942.
She was not speaking when I visited. In fact she never spoke to me. I held her hand and kissed her head. I told her how much I loved and missed her, knowing I’d never talk to her again. Knowing this was good-bye.
But she was a tough lady. I was able to see her three more times before she passed. And three more times I got to hold her hand, kiss her head and tell her how much I loved her. Once she raised her eyebrows, but that was the only response.
On the day of her passing, we decided it was time to turn off her oxygen, my mom stayed by her side. Her last wish was to be unhooked because she was “just plain tired”. She had reason to be.
She was born in Limerick, Maine in 1927. She had two other siblings, a brother and a sister. Her dad passed at 55, and later her brother, who was killed on Iwo Jima. It’s funny, she never let anyone forget that, she was so proud, her sister also passed at a young age. She married a sailor and had my mother. My grandfather and her divorced a few years later, leaving my grandmother to raise my mother in her own. She worked several jobs to keep food on the table and pay rent. Despite any short comings, she did a wonderful job raising her daughter.
When my brother and I started public school we would stay with her after school. My parents both worked full time hours away, and my grandmother would take care of us everyday after school, and school breaks, and made sure we got to all of our extra curricular activities. When I was in Junior High, she got sick. Lung cancer….odds were against her. But like I said, she’s tough…a fighter. She beat it. Cancer.
We had fun…the stories I could tell! She skied, she snowmobiles, she went sledding…and she chased cows! Her love for animals was incredible. When she arrived on my parents’ farm the dogs and cats would go wild. They all loved her. We all love her.
The local newspaper wrote an article nearly 10 years ago, about what would you do if you won the lottery. My grandmother was interviewed. She told the paper she would help the homeless and the local animal shelter. So don’t you think she would be thrilled to know that she did? $1000 has been donated in her name to the Somerset Humane Society. And we donated all her furniture, appliances and clothing to the homeless. We helped her with her wish.
So now, even though I feel something missing i wonder if she can hear me or is watching me. I wonder if she is resting peacefully. And after the sadness has passed, I can move on…she lived a full life and has seen a great many things. Best of all she had family who loved her dearly…and will miss her forever.

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