Ever since I could legally drink, I’ve always loved Cinco de Mayo. It’s the perfect excuse to indulge in good tequila, frozen margaritas, and best of all, Mexican food. In St. Louis, there’s an authentic chain of Mexican restaurants called El Maguey. I love it, hubby hates it. Every day for a week, I told him we had to go there on Cinco de Mayo. If I catch him that far in advance, he will usually agree to almost anything. So we went a little late Tuesday evening to avoid the crowd and on the way home, he decided to call his parents and see what was going on back in Ohio. I overheard something about his grandma not feeling well so when he hung up the phone, I asked.
Hubby: Mom said grandma’s eye has been bothering her and she’s been having headaches.
Me: What about her shoulder pain she was having a couple of weeks ago when she was in Texas with your aunt?
Hubs: I don’t know. I guess it went away. Or maybe it still hurts. The doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with her.
Me: Ya know, I hate to say it, but I’m really kind of surprised she’s lasted this long.
Hubs: What do you mean?! She’s healthy as a horse.
Me: Well, ever since your grandpa died about a year and a half ago, she’s just been depressed. She has no will, no desire for life anymore. They were married for 61 years. Usually when older couples have been together that long, when one dies, the other one doesn’t survive long after. They just don’t want to.
The next day, we got the call that grandma had passed away. She wasn’t feeling well that morning so she went to take a nap in her bedroom. A couple of hours later, her daughter who had recently moved in with her to keep her company went in to check on her, but she didn’t wake up. My poor husband had just driven 4 hours away for work only to turn around as soon as he arrived and come right back home. We spent that evening waiting and weighing our options. May 6 was a Wednesday. Three days before our flight for Hawaii was scheduled to leave. Could they have the funeral as soon as Friday? Would we be able to change our flights if it were on Saturday? Would we have to cancel our entire trip?
There were a lot of questions and no good answers. Once we got word that the funeral was set for Saturday, we spent the next two hours talking to two different people at Expedia to try and move our flight back by one day. But the fee would be more than $4,000. More than the entire trip itself. We could cancel and reschedule but given the nature of hubby’s work, he has to give almost 6 months advanced notice if he’s taking any more than a couple of days off. But could we really miss his only grandma’s funeral? A grandma he was close with, that had been around his whole life, and whom we made it a point to visit just as often as his parents? It was a shitty situation all around. Too emotional and conflicted to decide for ourselves, we asked family – his parents, my parents, his sister, my grandparents – and they all said the same thing: Go to Hawaii. “Grandma would’ve told you to go to Hawaii,” his dad said. Unwilling to go without contributing in some way, we took Thursday and Friday off work and drove 8 hours to Ohio where hubby helped his dad prep the private grave site, right next to his grandpa. They also planted some flowers and did some yard work at his grandma’s house. They did anything to stay busy and keep their minds occupied. If I had to use a single word to describe the mood of the family, I would have to say “shock.” No one – not even me with my statements from the day before – had expected her to pass away then. Sadness hadn’t had a chance to settle into anyone’s mind just yet. Everyone just did what needed to be done, thinking this whole ritual was all too familiar as we had just gone through this with his grandpa less than 16 months ago. At least then, the family had a few days to consider the possibility that he was dying as he laid in the hospital. There was really no preparation for this, because, as my husband had said, the family believed she was healthy as a horse.
Less than 24 hours after we arrived, we drove back home with barely enough time to pack for our vacation. A time usually filled with excitement and anticipation, much like Christmas Eve, felt more like the mid-point in a marathon. We were tired, exhausted both physically and emotionally, and we had about 12 hours of travel time still ahead of us.
to be continued…
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