I got the call yesterday afternoon.
It was my Dad. I knew something was wrong the minute he said my name. Choking on his tears he asked me to call my brother and then come to the hospital.
It was my Grandma. His mom.
She has battled cancer for over fifteen years now. The first time she was diagnosed the local doctors gave her three months to live. She wasn’t satisfied with that answer and made the haul to Minnesota to get an opinion from the doctors at the Mayo Clinic.
The Mayo Clinic doctors helped her beat the cancer. Except over the past fifteen years – more than half of my life – she’s been hit with various forms of cancer over and over. She always fights it off. She always wins.
Judging from my Dad’s phone call it wasn’t going to be a big win this time.
One of her lungs had collapsed. The other had fluid in it.
As of yesterday they gave her one to two days to live.
The last two days have been full of tears as my father, aunts, uncles, cousins, and brothers sit in a hospital room together to be my grandma’s side. The strongest woman we all know is about to lose the fight.
As I sit there in the hospital room all I can think of is the legacy this woman will leave behind. The way she’ll be remembered. The things she’s done for other people. And I can only hope that I’ll too be remembered like that.
When I was getting a divorce my Grandma was by my side. Reminding me that I’m meant to be happy. That sometimes you have to experience these type of things before finding the one person you’re meant to be with. She had been through divorce and she had also found her forever and has been with him for 30 years.
When I was young and dumb and maxed out a $1,500 credit card at 20 percent interest Grandma paid it off and wouldn’t take no for an answer. She also made me cut up the card – one of my first lessons in personal finance.
After I got divorced she insisted on giving me money for a down payment on a home of my own. Which I had to politely decline over and over.
Whenever a family member is in trouble they go to her. It seems like there is nothing you can say to shock her and she listens without judgment.
When someone needs a place to stay she opens up her home.
She’s also the founding entrepreneur in our family – owning many successful businesses over the course of her lifetime, and next to the big box stores, one of the biggest department stores in our town. She got a job in a factory right after high school. Within two weeks she decided she wasn’t meant to work for someone else. She didn’t just sit around dreaming of taking action. She did it. Started her first business with two young kids in tow.
It wasn’t just family that she was good to. She’d give the shirt off her back if she thought that it’d help a stranger.
There are so many lessons I’ve learned from her that I’ll carry forever.
Call a family member who you haven’t talked to in a while, someone you’ve held a grudge against, or someone who’s had a big impact on your life. Tell them you’re sorry, or that you love them, and miss them.
Do it today. Tomorrow might never come.