Grandma Love Grandma Love

Today my heart is breaking for Grandma. I miss her so much. We had such a close relationship that was fluid over time and easily developed as I did, from child to adult. In my adult life I knew and enjoyed our relationship, but in her death I remember and miss my childhood and the part she played in my developmental years, years that I had largely forgotten because I hadn't visited them in so long. Since she died, that's the time period that I find myself thinking of all the time.

Her final weeks were difficult because she was supposed to have been recovering from surgery, but instead she was diminishing from dehydration and neglect. My family and I routinely demanded better care, but it never came. On May 4th, 2009 Grandma passed away from dehydration, but...for now I don't want to dwell on the nursing home abuse and neglect that killed her. I want to focus on the woman she was, the woman she made me, and the ways in which she lives on in the hope and promise of the children she adored.

The memories I routinely have now are ones of childhood. My sister and I would play for hours in Grandma's backyard using old pie plates, spoons and pans to make mud pies, using the bountiful hydrangeas as bouquets as we pretended to get married and spending time helping Grandma pick vegetables out of the garden. I find myself resurrecting these long-since-forgotten screen shots from the movie of my life that I now realize are more than just forgotten memories. They are the building blocks that fit together to mold the future. They are so seemingly irrelevant to adult life, as if childhood and adulthood exist separately and somehow there's an unnoticed door that is passed through to leave one behind and continue with the other. Now, in the pain following her loss and in the subsequent analysis of Grandma's contributions to the lives of those around her, I feel myself reconnecting with a simpler time, accepting life's pleasures and joys where they exist. I find the most amazing, overflowing cup of joy in watching the simplicity of childhood through my daughter and nephew, and reliving my own through memories of childhood with Grandma. Grandma adored kids, and always knew just how to entertain them and make them smile. She saw the future in her grandchildren. They were her survival when she was not able to carry on. She lives on through them. For them, she is the foundation on which their futures are built.

Artist's Note: The portrait of Grandma Love represents an amazing individual who made the world a better place. In her 90's, she was independent, sharp as a tack, funny, and positive. She was a shining example of how we would all like to be in our advanced years, yet her shine was rubbed out by institutional neglect and abuse in the hands of her caretakers. Her family did everything they could to protect her, including hiring a private nurse to see to the basic needs she was not receiving. Elder abuse is a crime, yet marginalized by society and rarely ever investigated. If a parent would be prosecuted and imprisoned for allowing a child to DIE of dehydration, why would we allow this to happen to another person just because she was in her 90ís?