My one-hundred-year-old grandmother passed away on Friday night at about 8:30 pm. She had double pneumonia and went pretty quickly, from what I understand. She spent her last moments in the place she'd called home for more than a decade, an assisted living home in my hometown.
I am saddened by her death but it did not come as a surprise to me -- I'd expected her to go a year and a half ago. I'm glad that it was short and probably painless.
I'm more saddened by the implications of her death. As I've indicated before, she was the last link I really had to the maternal side of my family. My mother and I are estranged -- which hurts, but hurts a whole lot less than not being estranged. I won't go into the details, but it's a matter of dysfunctional family dynamics, inherited from previous generations, that have rendered us incapable of relating in a constructive manner.
I should probably be angry at my grandmother for her responsibility in this, but I cannot. While my mother's experience was very different, to me, she was always kind, always loving. She loved me and would not budge from it.
At the time of my parents' divorce, when the rift between my mother and me first appeared, Grandma remained stalwartly neutral, proud of both of us. At the time, it infuriated me, but in my advanced age, I appreciate it now. I strive to emulate this unconditional love with my son, to separate his actions from his person, and to love him forever. There is no better legacy than this.
She'll be cremated and a small funeral will be held next month in Nebraska, to which I am invited. I will be there, to show my respect for her and the last of that chapter of family history.