I always thought the feeling of losing a loved one would get better over time. Better? Maybe a different word could be easier. But, I still don’t know how I feel about that…
It will be two years on this coming November 1st since my Grandma, Kathryn Hartke passed away. My grandparents live (grandpa now does) five miles away from my home in Teutopolis, Illinois. These two lovely grandparents are the parents of my mother. My grandparents had two kids, resulting in 6 grandkids! A little smaller than some families, but I love it just the way it is. My uncle and his family were next-door neighbors to my grandparents, so we were all very close, in location and our relationships. Growing up, I had so many fond memories at their house and spending time with my family. Having the treats of grandma’s famous cookies and cinnamon rolls, swimming all summer in their pool, going on adventures through their farm and hay barns, and building a mountainous (sizing in terms of our kid memory) sized snow glacier that we could climb, are such great memories that I will always treasure. My grandparents, parents, and relatives made it a NECESSITY to always spend our Sunday nights having dinner together.
My cousins and I were fairly close in age. Once the youngest of the grandkids turned 11, surprisingly their family was expecting another! There were only five grandkids, one boy and four girls, so the thought of another on the way was extremely exciting. My grandparents were so excited that my uncle and aunt were expecting their first boy! My brother turned out not to be the only male grandchild. Since we were all a little older than the new cousin, Jack, we all spoiled him rotten, especially my grandma. She couldn’t contain her excitement that he lived next-door and could see him often.
My grandma was a power princess that I will always wish to be. She was diagnosed with breast cancer, and later underwent a double mastectomy, removing both breasts in hopes of eliminating the cancer. A year later, her right arm suffered problems with lymphedema, known as lymphatic destruction. After all of these obstacles, her love for us grew. Even though she was tired from her chemotherapy treatments, she still found time to spend with us. She never missed a Relay for Life event, supporting anyone who has suffered, deceased or survivors, from any form of cancer.
Skip several years later, and my grandma was at the age of 68. She was going to undergo knee replacement surgery. The pain was so severe that it disabled her to walk far distances, so the surgery was a necessity. She was nervous for the surgery, but heard such positive stories of neighbors/friends that endured a successful knee surgery. After her surgery, she was feeling great! I remember calling her after, hearing about her latest gossip. Little did I know, that would be the last time I would speak with her. Sadly, because of her past cancer and the surgery procedure, the surgery caused for her blood to clot easily. She completed her last lap in the hall of the hospital (mandatory to see if she was feeling better before she could leave) and she collapsed because of a blood clot in her leg. This blood clot began to travel to her lung, later going to her heart. My grandma then passed away.
I cannot even attempt to express the shock, anger, and sadness after being told the news. It wasn’t fair. Death happens so often, but it couldn’t possibly have taken the life of my grandma who I visited habitually. Jack, the youngest grandson who was only three years old, could not be without a grandma. I miss her more than I can express. I always will…
People think that the sadness will fade with time after a loved one passes, but it’s the exact opposite. Your yearn to see them, hug them, love them, hold them so tight you can’t ever let go, only grows stronger. Your anger goes away, and a happiness somewhat takes place to one day see them again. But most of all, you feel extremely blessed to have ever had the chance to love and know the person. She played such a huge role in my life; she is irreplaceable.