10 Minutes: The Difference Between Life and Death

grandma10 minutes–that was the difference between seeing my Grandma alive for the last time.

In August, I received a call from a family member saying they believed Grandma was moments from passing away.

This was the third call that week where I had received the same message.

I was at work swamped with things to do, and had already missed a day and a half of work due to “false alarms.”

I figured this phone call was another “false alarm” and continued to work, vowing that I would leave in an hour…I just wanted to finish one more project….

A few minutes later, I got another call from my mom saying that she thought this was “it” and she was leaving work. I decided to leave too.

Ten minutes after I arrived, my Grandma passed away. She was 73.

She was surrounded by her three daughters, and several grandchildren.

I often think to myself how lucky I was that I got to be there–and how much guilt I would have felt if I didn’t leave work when I did.

Even though this happened in August, I haven’t been able to write about it.

Every time I would try and start a post, I realized there was no way that I could do justice to my Grandma’s memory.

My Grandma had a very rough life. She was married at 14 and had four kids by the time she was 24. She became a single mom in her 30s and came to the United States on her own with her kids after leaving behind an abusive husband in Mexico. She worked several jobs just to make ends meet.

However, my Grandma was also no saint. As much as I loved her, she could also annoy me a lot when she told me I would drive too fast, take turns too fast, wouldn’t turn my blinker on correctly, wasn’t wearing enough blush, etc, etc, etc and it always took every ounce of patience I had to just say “Si, Grandma.

I thought that one of the benefits of having a young Grandma would be that she would get to see me raise my (not yet conceived) children. I pictured us taking a photo with four generations… I pictured her teaching me how to wash my infant in the bathroom sink, like I remember her doing with my mom and my younger brother.

The hardest part of letting someone go–at least for me–is also learning to let go of the future that you thought you had with them. Suddenly, you realize those memories you thought you still had time to create…will never happen.

So you are forced to cherish the ones you had.

I will always remember watching my Mexican Grandma– who can only say 10 words in English– teach my white husband how to make tamales in our kitchen during Christmas last year.

It was such a wonderful time to see my whole family come together–all the cousins, aunts, uncles, and even the dogs.

My family–like any other family–has gone through its ups and downs. There have been times where someone got into an argument with someone, or that person wasn’t speaking to that person.

But watching my Grandma’s health deteriorate in a matter of months really brought my family together. Suddenly, those fights didn’t seem as important.

In writing a post in remembrance of my Grandma, I feared that I wouldn’t do justice to honoring her legacy.

But I realized on Thanksgiving, as we went around the room between aunts, uncles, cousins and siblings and said what we were thankful for (yes, we’re that family), that the legacy that my Grandma left was bringing us closer together.

I don’t think there is a better way to honor my Grandma’s memory than knowing that we are one giant family once again.



10 thoughts on “10 Minutes: The Difference Between Life and Death

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  2. December 13, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this. Losing someone you love is never easy. Glad to hear you made it there.

  3. December 12, 2013 at 10:15 am

    What a sweet post. You definitely portrayed the reality of her as a human and the awesomeness of her being your loving grandma!

    Sorry for your loss, but so glad you all were able to celebrate her life this year.

  4. December 10, 2013 at 8:20 am

    Those are some great memories you keep of her. Hold onto them and try to give less importance to her weaker self while she was sick. She sounds like a very strong (and strong willed) woman.

  5. December 10, 2013 at 6:16 am

    You look so much like your grandmother. I know she passed a few months back, but I’m sending you hugs and my condolences. It’s never easy to lose someone you love.

    This line: “The hardest part of letting someone go–at least for me–is also learning to let go of the future that you thought you had with them.” – oof, that one got to me. All I can say, is I know how you feel.

  6. Vss
    December 9, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    Your grandmother is beautiful. And I’m glad you were able to say goodbye.

  7. December 9, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    I am SO relieved you made it for her last moment. Pam is right, you do look like her!

    This is wonderful and painful in its truth at the same time: “The hardest part of letting someone go–at least for me–is also learning to let go of the future that you thought you had with them. Suddenly, you realize those memories you thought you still had time to create…will never happen.”

  8. December 9, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. Your grandma sounds wonderful. May God comfort you through this.

  9. December 9, 2013 at 9:48 am

    So sorry for your loss! She was beautiful and it sounds like she conquered many challenges. You brought tears to my eyes with this post and I’m not even personally involved, so I call that a success and a great tribute to your grandma 🙂

  10. Pam E-P
    December 9, 2013 at 7:08 am

    What a lovely woman! You look just like her!

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