I mean this was a woman who broke her arm at 92 when she fell over while walking the dog and the fracture healed completely in FOUR WEEKS. This is the woman who is growing her third set of teeth. The woman who did headstands up until the age of 95, the woman who up until a year ago could still cook and prepare a three course meal all by herself and up until two years ago hung up and washed her own curtains. Her vitality is incredible. She had pneumonia last winter but came through it just fine.
My grandmother's sheer health was by any medical standard amazing, and almost as formidable as her obstinacy and refusal to comply with medical advice.
When I was a little girl I remember crying incosolably not long after I watched Bambi and contemplated the possibility that one day too my grandmother would die. As an adult I still have an echo of that feeling, because in my head I kind of believe that if nuclear holocaust happened tomorrow there alongside the cockroaches would be my grandmother walking around, tsk tsking at the mess and sweeping up radioactive dust.
So to think about the fact that she is mortal is surreal, mostly. Also sad. I've been so angry with her for so long that I've kind of lost track of my compassion for the horrendous life she lived. I'm so used to her being a Force of Evil that to see her all mellowed out and kind is almost heartbreaking.
I think when (if?) she dies there will be a part of me that will wish I had been kinder because it is easy to forget how poisonous she could be, and all of what she did.
It is easier now though, to feel forgiveness and to be kind. She is so old after all, and she is fading, and she is not a worthy opponent for my wrath. Instead now is a time to be as gentle as I can,as patient. I'm going to fly back for a few days in April to see her. I think my mother is right and that anger is a luxury and sometimes we need to move on past it, into kindness.
At the moment her goal is to live until the end of May ("so as not to spoil your wedding dear", and mine is to be as loving and as patient as I can. To pick up the phone more often than I have the natural inclination to.
The doctor came today to listen to my grandmother's heart and fit her with some kind of heart monitoring device.
Grandmother to Dr who is monitoring her heartbeat: "Is it looking very bad?"
Dr:"Dear lady people with hearts like this live to be 100."
"Ah," sighs my grandmother, "not long left, then".