By Jennifer Reinharz for Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers
On October 15th, I lost my grandmother to cancer. The disease engulfed Dot's body almost as quickly as she learned the diagnosis.
Three days earlier, when the doctors assured she still had a few weeks, I returned home from my hospital visit, gathered my notebook, and made plans to capture my grandmother's unusually talkative mood.
There were so many possibilities. Perhaps, as my husband's Jewish tradition teaches, Dot could fulfill the 613th mitzvah and write a Torah, a personal 10 commandments thus sealing her life scroll; or maybe, as a member of her church's quilting guild, she could share patch ideas for a memory quilt.
But by the time I reached my grandmother's home hospice bedside, she was already in a final sleep. Weeks whittled to hours. Before sunrise, she was gone.
Dot's death was beautiful; swift, pain-free, and at home surrounded by loved ones. Her last days, passing, and funeral had been a fluid waltz. Everything fell into place as if she was the choreographer.
Without her words, I had to stretch my accordion memory file for tucked away treasures. Two came to mind; Sweet 16 and Oh Definitely.
Each birthday, my grandmother would caw over her candles, "I'm sweet sixteen and never been kissed." Sixteen was her forever age, the age at which she liked to remember herself.
Any time Dot emphatically agreed with a point, she broke her silence with a high pitched, "Oh, definitely!"
My notebook soon filled up with Dot's Sweet 16 of Definite-lys.