The Last Goodbye
Tina’s heart ached as she watched the movers expertly carry the last of the living room furniture through the open front entrance of her great-grandmother’s house. The only people left in the room besides her were her older sister Beth, her mother, her grandmother (known as 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 her sister. She glanced at her mother and could see that she felt it, too; her red-rimmed eyes threatening to overflow 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 loved to say to anyone who would ask. She had been living in the old house on the hill for the last fifty-eight years, and for fifty-two of those years she had lived there with Grandpa Luke. Tina remembered Grandpa Luke vividly because he had been such a character that he’d be awfully hard to forget. He had been quite tall and slim, with a full head of wavy white hair that never seemed to behave quite the way it was supposed to. Tina 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 Grandpa Luke would just grumble something unintelligible under his breath as he reluctantly shuffled off to do as his wife bid him. But, oh, how he loved his wife and would do anything for her. He built her the house on the hill after they were first married. He even put in a flower garden especially for her because he knew how much she loved her many flowers – lilies, chrysanthemums, morning glories, daisies, pansies, lilacs, marigolds – but most especially the rose bushes.
Tina’s special memories of Grandpa Luke included sunshine-filled summers in the back yard while 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, Granny Jo was taken by surprise. Never had she expected to wake up one day and find him lying cold and motionless beside her. She was unprepared and mourned her beloved husband for a very long time.Tina didn’t think she ever really got 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. That’s when everything began to change.
Granny Jo became more and more forgetful as time passed. There were instances when Tina would visit Granny Jo with her mother, and Granny Jo couldn’t remember her name, or her mother’s name. Sometimes, she didn’t even remember they were relatives. Once, right in the middle of a visit, she suddenly 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 would forget to take it completely, or sometimes, even worse, she would 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. Apparently, she had been cooking on the stove, forgot about it, and 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. As it turned out, the fire department had to come out to put out the fire in the kitchen because it was too strong for just a small kitchen fire extinguisher.
Tina knew that what her mother and Nana were saying was true. It was simply becoming too dangerous for Granny Jo to live alone. Granny Jo would probably be much 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 Tina feel any better. She only knew that the Granny Jo she had known and loved all her life long was probably gone forever; and she knew for certain that she would never come back to climb in 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, Tina knew that she was also saying goodbye to her childhood