The Last Goodbye
Megan’s heart ached as she watched the movers carry the last of the living room furniture through the front door of her great-grandmother’s house. The only people left in the room besides her were her older sister Beth, her mother, her grandmother Nana, and her great-grandmother, known as Granny Jo. A feeling of sadness hung heavily in the air, with the silence being broken only by the muffled sobs of Beth. Megan glanced at her mother and could see that she also felt it; her eyes brimming with tears.
Today was the day that Granny Jo was moving out of her house and into the nursing home.
Granny Jo was eighty-three years young – at least that’s what she said to anyone who inquired. She’d been living in the old house on the hill for the last fifty-eight years, and for fifty-two of those years she’d lived there with Grandpa Luke. Megan remembered Grandpa Luke vividly because he’d been such a character that he was difficult to forget. He had been tall and slim, with a full head of wavy white hair that never seemed to behave quite the way it was supposed to. Megan recalled the many times that Granny Jo would admonish him, “Luke, go comb your hair. It’s stickin’ out all over the place,” to which her great-grandfather would just grumble something unintelligible under his breath as he reluctantly shuffled off to do as his wife bid him. But he loved his wife and would do anything for her. He’d built her this house when they were newlyweds. He even put in a flower garden especially for her because he knew how much she loved flowers – lilies, chrysanthemums, morning glories, daisies, pansies – but especially the rose bushes.
Megan’s special memories of Grandpa Luke included sunshine-filled summers in the back yard when he pushed her on the swing which hung from one of the big apple trees, and of lazy afternoons lying on their backs together on the front lawn, trying to decide what kinds of things they imagined were being created by the white, fluffy clouds floating by in the blue skies overhead.
When Grandpa Luke died, her great-grandmother was taken by surprise. Never had she expected to wake up one day and find him lying cold and motionless beside her. She mourned her beloved husband for a very long time. Megan didn’t think she’d ever really gotten over Grandpa Luke’s death. Even now, Granny Jo still poured a cup of coffee for him every morning before she remembered that he was no longer there to drink it. And shortly after he died, everything began to change.
Granny Jo became more forgetful as time passed. There were instances when Megan and her mother would visit her, and Granny Jo couldn’t remember her name or her own daughter’s name. Sometimes she couldn’t even remember that they were relatives. One time she thought they were strangers who had invaded her home and threatened to call the police if they didn’t leave.
She also wasn’t taking the correct dosages of her medication. Either she’d forget to take it completely, or even worse, she’d take a double dose. One time Nana found her unresponsive and had to call the paramedics, all because she had double-dosed on her pills.
Then there was the time that she almost burned down her house. She’d been cooking on the stove. When she forgot about it, the pan caught on fire. It was a good thing that Nana had stopped by on her way home from church, or the whole house might have gone up in flames, and Granny Jo with it. Nana even had to call the fire department to extinguish the fire.
Megan knew that what her mother and Nana were saying was true. It was simply becoming too dangerous for Granny Jo to live alone. She probably would be better off in the nursing home where they could take better care of her and keep her safe.
But knowing what was right somehow didn’t make Megan feel any better. She only knew that the Granny Jo she had known and loved all her life was probably gone forever.
Megan also knew that she would never come back to swing from the apple tree in the back yard ever again. It was time to say goodbye to the old house on the big hill.
And in her heart, Megan also knew that she was saying goodbye to her childhood.