Thursday, November 03, 2011
A Final Goodbye
She used to tell a version of how my parents met. It went like this: My dad wanted to play cards and my mom wanted to study, so my mom said "How about, first we study, then we play cards?" And they lived happily ever after.
Omi wanted to get married in a Catholic church, but when they went to see the priest my grandfather refused to sign something promising to raise their children Catholic. According to my grandmother, Opa said "I don't even have any children yet and you want me to sell them to you!"
She told me how she met my grandfather in a dance class. He was tall and handsome and, even though he wasn't paired with her at first, he only wanted to dance with her.
Just after World War II, when my grandmother was a teenager, she was attacked while bringing food to her father in prison. After that, she sent her younger brother in without her. She often told me, "War brings out the worst in people."
She moved back in time, talking more and more about the past. Eventually, I was too new for her to remember who I was. Sometimes, she thought I was my mother. Then she forgot her too.
When I was a kid, Omi used to sing "You are my sunshine" to me. Yesterday, when we went to visit her for the last time, my Mom printed out the lyrics and we sang it to her. I only really knew the cheerful chorus; the verses were depressingly appropriate. I didn't imagine she could have looked worse than the last time I saw her, but she did. Older, thinner, greyer. As we sang, she briefly opened her eyes, then scrunched up her face as though she was in pain.
We knew that she was going to die soon, and finally this evening she did. But the Omi I knew and loved died a long time ago. There was no exact time and date of death. She slipped away gradually through a slow leak in her mind.