Today would have been my maternal grandmother's 104th birthday. We buried her the day before what would have been her 97th on February 4, 2004. Owen was just a baby then and she'd been in a nursing home for several months. One of the greatest regrets of my life is that by the time she passed, it had been almost a month since I'd last gone to see her.
I didn't like that nursing home. I guess it was ok, as far as nursing homes go, but it wasn't exactly a place I wanted to hang out. I went there a few times while I was on maternity leave when Owen was a tiny baby. The women there would practically mob me as I walked in. They all longed to touch this brand new life, perhaps hoping a bit of his newness would rub off on them. One woman I'd never seen before pleaded with me to hold him - what could I say? I put my 2 month old baby in her lap and I've never before or since seen such gratitude on someone's face. In that moment, I prayed that one day when I am old a young mother will see fit to allow me to hold her infant, too. I'll breathe in and the smell of that newborn will transport me back in time. Yeah, that will be nice.
The last time I went to see my grandma was on New Year's Eve 2003. Chris and I walked down the hall towards her room and laughed at how every single room had "Wheel of Fortune" on. The synchronization of the bells and the wheel spinning was just hilarious to us! She was there in her little room and excited to see us, as always. My mom had put up a picture of Owen in his Christmas outfit on her wall. She was really confused and kept calling him "Omar" and referring to him as a "she." I think we only stayed for about 1/2 hour and then said our goodbyes, never imagining it would be our last.
A few weeks later my mom called me very early one Saturday morning to tell me Nana had died. My initial reaction was a tremendous amount of sadness for my mom because they had always been so close. But as time goes on, I am more sad for me and the rest of the people she knew because she really did leave her mark on all of us. She was truly a "character" - not one easily defined, but definitely an unforgettable one. I miss her and always will.