It rains too much on Bainbridge Island. 225 days a year, clouds patter the town with an endless drip. Sometimes, people forget that the sun exists. The weather report is the most useless channel that plays; everyone knows it’s gonna rain.
I know this because my grandma told me. When I was a kid, I needed a friend and she was retired. I’d call my grandma and we’d fill the distance with chatter. 3 times a day I would ask “so how’s the weather?” and 3 times a day she’d tell me the same thing “oh, it’s raining again”.
As I grew up, our calls slowed and bit by bit we changed. I started forgetting about my childhood best friend. I’d reach out when I needed the recipe for her delicious “kakleti” (Russian patties), or when I wanted to introduce my partner to her. 3 times a day became 3 times a month because I was still feeling we had forever.
Sometimes, when it rained wherever in the world I was, I’d think about her and hear her telling me “oh it’s raining again”.
Her age started showing and she started falling more often. Having dealt with osteoporosis for years, each fall fractured another rib, each fall made it harder for her to enjoy being old. She was in rehab, the hospital, and then rehab again. I’d call less and less, and then she started forgetting how to use her phone. The few times I’d reach her, she didn’t hear me. And then she started saying things that didn’t make sense. It felt like she was starting to die.
I wish I didn’t let her go like that. I wish I kept calling and calling until she pressed the right button and picked up. I wish when I visited her, I spent more time chatting instead of thinking “this is the last hug I’ll get”. My mother fought to keep her alive. She moved her close to home, spent days and nights with her, trying to help my grandma live again. Even when us grandkids spoke between each other, quietly telling my mother “let her go”, my grandmother wouldn’t go.
3 months before she passed, I started holding my breath. I was waiting for the call that would loosen our grip on this in-between. Every day she was nearing the end, and every day she’d pull back into this in between. I couldn’t talk to her, when I saw her once I did my best to look away. She wasn’t the grandma I used to call 3 times a day. I was learning what age really does to a person.
Finally, one day, she died. It was raining when I heard the news. My first thought was I’ll never be able to ask her about the weather again.
If heaven exists, I hope the sunny depictions of it aren’t true. I hope sometimes it rains up there too.
You depict beautifully the often complicated relationship with grandmas, and the difficulty of facing the reality when you realize they've changes.
It made me think so much about both my grandmas, one died a couple of years ago and one is currently going through a difficult health problem.
Thank you for writing this!
So beautiful and a touching tribute your grandma 🥺