When I looked at my phone this morning I noticed I had missed a call from my dad around 730. I knew why he was calling instantly. There are really only two reasons my dad would call that early right now, my grandma was either on her death bed or had already passed.
Grandma Gloria (or GG which is what she wanted the great grandkids to call her) became my grandma when I was eleven years old. She and grandpa Ed took my brother and I in as if we had always been their grandchildren, and I will forever be grateful for that. We always felt loved.
I was the first of her grandchildren to have a child of my own and I loved how excited she was over it. She even flew up to Utah once when I was pregnant with Camden to help us buy his baby bedding. It's a memory I will hold dear to my heart always.
When we found out that Camden had Down syndrome I don't think she ever said one word about it...she just kept on loving him like she would have any other great grandchild and went on as she would have in any other circumstance. She just loved him.
Shortly after Camden was born my grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and moved into a nursing home...but she was always so glad to have us visit. When we brought Camden to see her she would parade him around letting everyone know that he was her beautiful grandson and just how lucky she felt...you see she never thought she would live to see any of her great grandchildren. I don't think I ever told her how much her visits meant to me. There was never a shortage of love. In fact my children have been blessed by the very best of grandparents on all sides...
This year her Alzheimer's began progressing quicker...we came to visit in may after Hendrix was born because we just weren't sure how long she would "be here" and I wanted her to meet him. We never once went when she didn't recognize the boys...and that was a beautiful gift. She was just always so proud and you could feel the love, even when she could no longer verbally express it.
I spent five weeks in California with the boys in August and the progression of the disease was getting quicker and quicker...when we first went to visit she was very responsive and held Hendrix and covered him in grandma kisses...not even two weeks later and she could no longer hold anyone...and could barely get out the words "they are so beautiful".
The last visit we had with her she was unresponsive for the most part...except for with Hendrix and Camden. She would look at Hendrix and smile when we would hold him close...but she would respond to camden. When Camden would laugh she would laugh...when Camden would talk she would look around for him. She knew Camden...
This morning when I got that phone call, my heart sank...because I knew. But I am also relieved, not only for my dear grandmother who was ready to be reunited with her husband, but for my parents...who have had to watch this disease take over the woman they knew and loved so much.
I am thankful for the woman I was able to call grandma for much of my life, for her love and for the pride that she took in my children...and for that special bond that she and Camden had for this period of time on earth.
Camden has seen four great grandparents pass in the three and a half years he has been here with us...and as sad as that is, I am ever so grateful that he has had the opportunity to be a part of most of his great grandparents' lives. It has been so so special to see the bonds that he has formed with each and every one of them. The way that they light up when he visits, the way that love has bloomed...the ways that they made him feel so special and so loved, always.
This little boy of mine has a way of sneaking into your heart that way, and he never leaves. I look forward to the day when I can understand their relationships with him on a deeper level, when I can see them all reunited again.