My grandma had a birthday a few days ago. She's the only grandparent I have left. She turned 90-something I think... 95? 96? I can't remember. Which is probably okay because I don't think she remembers which birthday it is either. In fact, I'm not sure she was even aware it WAS her birthday. Dementia is gripping her tighter and tighter these days. But I knew it was her birthday and I thought about her.
I haven't seen her in more than a few years. She lives in a small town too far away for me to visit with any regularity. It takes an expensive plane trip and a fairly long drive regardless of what airport I'd fly into. And although it makes me feel sad (and a little guilty) that I haven't seen her in so long, I also wonder if maybe that's not such a bad thing. It's difficult to watch someone you love deteriorate and succumb to age (or any other illness or disease). I miss my Gma terribly, but the only benefit of not being able to see her often is that in my mind, she's still the vibrant, sassy woman I've known all my life, and not the increasingly frail and addled old lady who recently had to move to a more comprehensive care facility.
My Gma is a pistol, for sure! She was always independent-minded, brash and outspoken. She took very little sass, but could dish it out with the best of 'em! She's always been quite a fine, strong Southern woman. I'm lucky to have inherited some of her traits, even a few of the quirkier ones... like vocalizing random odd noises (kind of my own personal sound effects) and not being able to sit still without jiggling a foot or leg. She seemed pretty fearless to me, and self assured. That's how I'd like to remember her. Might be harder to do that if I saw her often in her current state. Although I WILL go and see her if the opportunity arises, because I love her and miss her.
Another loved one chalking up a big-number birthday is my beloved dog Hobey. We think his birthday is around Labor Day, and he's turning 11 this year. He's still a pistol himself, though he's showing more and more signs of age as well. He's a big dog, so 11 is pretty dang old! But he's really healthy and we're doing all we can to ward off senior canine issues. We're fortunate that he's in such great shape! He seems much younger than he is.
But there are times when I can't help but think of the inevitable... that one day in the not-to-distant future, I'll have to say a final goodbye to each of those two loved ones who are so special to me. I try not to dwell on it. I know it's part of life, although it's one of the saddest parts. You can't stop time... it just keeps flowing forward no matter what. So I try to enjoy my dog while he's here and in good health, and I think of my Gma often even though I can't visit and she probably wouldn't know me if did. And just like everybody else, I sometimes have to remind myself to appreciate each day as it comes. Time won't wait for you to catch up.