My grandmother is in the hospital and on her death-bed, so to speak. She is my fathers’ mother and I’ve not seen her in nearly 15 years. My father only lives 10 minutes away, yet we’ve no relationship at all. I bump into him every so often at Tim Hortons or in the mall, but it usually isn’t much more than a “How are you?”, a little small talk and that’s it. Neither of us visit the other, call or anything else. My parents split when I was 5 and I didn’t see him again till I was around 10 or 11. From there, thanks to the woman he was with – seeing him became a regular thing until they broke up. I was 14. I ended up living with her (and a step-brother and half-brother) for a few years, till I became pregnant at 17.

Since then and it’s been approx 21 years, it’s been nothing but the occasional hello in passing like I’d mentioned above, empty promises to each other of visiting or calling and zero communication with any of his family. Not that I hadn’t thought about it, but because the longer time went on, the more awkward and uncomfortable I imagined seeing them would be. I do have one aunt that I’d always thought a lot of, but I seldom saw her either, again, just hello in passing … the odd cousin the odd hello in passing and so on.

My father has a history of drug and alcohol abuse, and now, he’s sick with cancer and heart disease I believe, as he’s just had a triple bypass … I didn’t learn about this till only recently, though it’s been a few months.

My brother called to tell me on Sunday that my grandmother had a stroke and her whole left side is paralyzed … this woman is 96. Long story short, they’re doing nothing more than keeping her heavily sedated – and waiting for her to pass. I live only minutes from the hospital, where the majority of the family lives in the same area and it’s nearly a half hour away. I’ve gone up the past few nights and my aunt has hinted a bit about no one in the family wanting to stay all night, so feeling a bit put on the spot and guilty for obvious reasons, I offered my phone number should ‘she need anything’. This morning I woke to a message asking if I would spend the night in the hospital tonight.

I’ve not yet answered her.

I do feel love for my father and that family, and I do have good memories of my grandmother when I was younger, but would it be odd for me to stay with her? My mothers mother, the grandmother who had raised me most of my childhood years was in the very same situation only 6 or 7 years ago, and I didn’t spend a lot of time with her in the hospital, I didn’t believe that she was as sick as she was … and when I got the call that she had passed, I was over ridden with guilt and to this day still feel like a selfish, idiot bitch for not opening my eyes to what was happening with her. I sometimes wonder if I was the secret link that would’ve kept her alive somehow, if only I had held her hand, if only I had sat with her longer, if only … if only. I don’t know that I’ll ever get over the death of her and to this day will cry and say aloud “Grammy, please come home.”

I feel obligated to stay with her and strangely want to (the more I think aboutit, the more I don’t to be honest), though I imagine going a little stir crazy. I imagine sitting and talking to her a bit like I am now, she can hear what people say … Gawd, I just don’t know. I fear she’ll pass when I’m with her, that’ll be awkward … fuck sake, awkward isn’t even the word for it really. Is it strange if I do it though after all these years? Is it strange that I’m being asked? It strikes me as a little strange that of all the people in the family that were actually a regular part of her life won’t do it. Is it strange that I hurt after all these years about a woman I hardly know or is only regret and guilt?

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