One Sunday morning, toward the end of the summer, I got the call I'd been subconsciously dreading for quite some time:
"Your grandmother is in the hospital."
I shouldn't have been surprised; isn't a healthy 87-year-old an anomaly? But thanks to her fierce independent streak (which has fueled her ability to live in her own home), her extensive network of friends (whom, for the longest time, she has referred to as "the old ladies"), and her sharp wit and intellect (which has kept her up well into the midnight hour doing crosswords most nights), I never considered her old. Thanks to my grandmother, I believed 87 was the new 67— so in fact, when the call came, I was shocked.
What followed were several tenuous days of waiting, at her side, for some definitive answers from doctors who had none to offer. With each whispered speculation of "brain tumor" and each request for yet another test, I selfishly worried my time with her was slipping away.
The good news arrived, finally, a few weeks later: The small seizures she'd been experiencing, and the suspicious shadows on her MRI, were due to tiny—and reversible —seepages from the capillaries in her brain. So long as she adhered to her new blood pressure medication, my grandmother would be fine. Contrary to her worst fears, she could return home, re-commence her daily routine, and even manage "a little" driving (if, by "a little," you mean "all over creation.")
This Thanksgiving, I'm grateful for my grandmother's return to health; but more than that, I'm grateful for the opportunities her (albeit brief) illness granted—to me, and the entire extended family. I'm grateful for the three straight days of heart-to-heart talks, playful reminiscing, and stories of her childhood that my grandmother shared while I sat with her in the hospital. I'm grateful to be in a line of work where I can drop everything, with no worries or regrets, to attend to the things in life that really matter. I'm grateful to have (re)-connected with family members I haven't seen, and in some cases even thought about, in a very long time; and to have learned, and laughed about, that sometimes-distant history that binds us all together. And I'm grateful, once again, for an event that reminded me how fleeting life is—and that I need to continue working on my tendency to take so many things for granted.
Happy Thanksgiving to each of you, whom I've undoubtedly neglected over the past year as I've allowed myself to get wrapped up in the minutiae of moving, househunting, and home improvement. I'd like to think I'll do better because of this summer's experience; but in case I forget to say it later, thank you for being in my life.
Also, in case I forget to mention it later, I'm grateful for the 2007 Red Sox. ;-)