As Long as Mable's Able NULL

When I was seventeen my grandfather had a stroke. My grandmother stayed by his side at the hospital after his stroke until he passed on. Having seen him in such a difficult condition for the two weeks prior to his death, my grandmother always said that she hoped that she wouldn't die of a stroke.

She lived another good 19 years beyond him, and outlived another husband to boot. She was "strong like an ox," just like her own mother who lived to be 90. Referring to herself, she'd say, "As long as Mable's able." That pretty much summed up her philosophy on life.

But as fate would have it, what dis-abled Mable was indeed a stroke.

But it was also A Stroke of Fate.

We all thought it was ironic at first, or perhaps a cruel joke. But what we realized, during her last two weeks, was that, as my brother Paul so aptly said in her Eulogy, "When God gave grandma a stroke, He gave us all a gift."

A gift?

It was the very thing she had hoped would not be her fate! She was a woman of dignity, and to be left in a state where she was unable to care for even her own personal needs, must have been a blow.

But, as is very often the case, what is truly best for us is not always what WE think is best for us. What we all learned'all 14 grandchildren and 30 great grandchildren'was that the two weeks we did get to spend with Grandma after her stroke were precious. Not just because they were the last weeks and we were savoring them as such, but also because the time we each spent with her was a testament to the individual relationship we each shared with her.

When I sat with her and held her hand she knew it was me because she could feel the bitten fingernails on my hands. It immediately brought me back to the times, both as a child and as an adult, when we'd sit together and she'd hold my hand. She'd run her thumb over my bitten thumb nail, and say, "That's ca-ca." In other words: Don't bite your nails.

When my brother Mike held her hand, she felt the ring of my grandfather's that she'd given him. They shared at that moment, a connection, a memory of a special occasion, when she gave him something that my grandfather had worn and cherished.

When my sister Debbie held her hand, she felt the ring she had bought my sister as a thank you for taking her on her errands. My grandmother never drove, and so had to depend on others throughout her life to take her on errands. She was grateful for this, and my sister was glad to be of service.

Each one of us shared an almost magical experience of the unspoken with her during those two weeks. Grandma was unable to communicate with words but she got her point across with her touch in the most eloquent of ways. She was a woman of little formal education, but she educated us in those two weeks, in a more profound way than even the most educated of her grandchildren could have even attempted.

When you'd ask my grandmother if she liked something or someone, she'd often respond, waving her hand back and forth in her Italian American Way, "Mezzo, Mezzo." I always understood it to mean "half and half."

Indeed, Grandma's stroke of fate was "Mezzo, Mezzo.' It was in that moment that we were all given an opportunity to become Grandma's other half, holding her hand to communicate with her and interpret her needs, and with that union we became "Tutto," whole.

Submitted by Anonymous


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