My grandmother passed away on Wednesday. She had melanoma, and in the end, her death was swift. I was there - I arrived Tuesday around 2pm and said my goodbyes to her that night. She was basically in a coma, the result of brain tumors from the cancer. I feel badly that I didn't grasp the seriousness of her condition-- I'd planned to visit at the end of September, thinking I had a couple months to say my goodbyes. But between the time they found new tumors in her lungs (June) and discovered lesions in her brain (late August), she only had weeks.
Our relationship was complicated- largely by my ongoing issues with my mom-- and we didn't talk as much over the past several years as I would have liked. But I do have some good memories-- like when, in 2008, she was so excited to vote for Obama in the Montana Democratic primary (which fell on her birthday), and our 2006 family reunion at McMenamin's Edgefield, which she was pretty proud of herself for coordinating.I also liked to brag that my grandmother was adept at using email, digital cameras and instant messenger.
My Gramma Dorothy (as she signed her letters and cards) was a strong personality, which I'm sure is no surprise to anyone who knows me. She was very politically active and instrumental in establishing the art gallery in Polson, MT, after it was forced to move from the town library. As I was preparing to leave town to visit on Monday night, I took stock of how many things I've kept that she's given me. I have a few quilts, a painting, numerous cards and a box made from tea tree wood that she sent me when I was all of nine or ten.
I wish a lot of things could be different, but taken together, I'm glad to have known my grandmother and to carry her spirit forward. Rest in peace, Gramma Dorothy. I love you.