So, my grandmother “Moo” has been in and out of hospice for years now. In fact, there have been several times in the last year and a half where Moo has almost died. Not actually died, mind you. Just almost.
On these occasions of “almost death” (of which there have been three or four), I’ve gotten The Phone Call at work informing me that my grandmother had just been rushed to the hospital. Her blood pressure being either dangerously high or terrifyingly low (sometimes both in the span of just a few hours), I’m told that she might not make it to dinnertime. On all of these occasions, I’ve immediately grabbed my purse, informed those who needed to know at work that I have a family emergency, and left for the hospital.
Last August (August 11th, 2005 to be exact), I got one of these phone calls from my father (Moo is his mother). My dad was in tears and he assured me that this time was “IT”. Could I come to the hospital? Yes…of course. And I was there in a flash.
Upon arriving at the ER, I was ushered into a series of hospital corridors by a nurse in light blue scrubs. Winding through the hallways behind her, I was finally led to a dark room where I found my dad and sister. Both were standing over my grandmother’s hospital bed and weeping. At that moment, I remember thinking that I was too late. That she was already gone. Tears immediately welled-up in my eyes and my dad – sobbing – turned to embrace me. My sister, not wanting to be left out, also wedged herself into the middle of the impromptu family hug.
It was about that time that we all heard a voice coming from the hospital bed:
“Well, aren’t you all a sorry-looking crowd.”
The three of us slowly turned our red, tear-stained faces toward the sound of the voice to find Moo looking up at us.
“Mother,” cried my dad, “you’re dying!”
“Not yet, I’m not!”
And that, as they say, was that. Not five minutes later, Moo was brutally pinching all nurses that dared to stray too close to her hospital bed.
Anyway, that was just over a year ago. Moo’s condition hasn’t really changed all that much. Like others her age, she has her good days and her bad days. And we are all very lucky that she is still with us (both physically and mentally).
However, we’ve all been informed that – come October – Moo will be kicked out of hospice...
Why, you ask?
Well, it really quite simple: Moo hasn’t died yet.
It’s really rather odd, if you stop and think about it. The only way you can get in to hospice is by being on your death bed, and the only ways out are:
1) By dying.
2) By not dying.
It is like a bizarre betting game. Hospice keeps going double-or-nothing that Moo will die this time, and Moo keeps defying the odds. I can almost hear her saying (in a similar fashion to Eddie Izzard’s "CAKE or DEATH" sketch), “So, what you’re saying is that my choices are ‘death’ and ‘not death’? Hmmmm…I’ll take ‘not death’, please.”
When I was born, Moo announced that – at age 70 – she was officially, “Too old to be a grandmother.” Now, at 96, she is my only remaining grandparent, and as feisty as ever.
Granted, no one can live forever. One day, Moo’s time on this planet will be up. In the meantime, though, she just keeps on surprising us all. And that – when it comes to feisty, old grandmothers – is hardly ever a bad thing.