Waiting

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September 18, 2009 by 8junebugs

Or: Why there is a rosary in my car right now

Sometime Wednesday morning, my Memere — the matriarch without whom that last post would never have existed (to say nothing of its author) — suffered a massive and debilitating stroke. We’re not sure what time, but it seems reasonable to assume it happened fast or she was asleep when it hit — she never activated the lifeline she wears around her wrist.

My uncle found her when he stopped by to do a little work at the house. She is stable and resting now, but the first 48 hours are critical. They’ll do another CT scan today to see what’s going on — yesterday’s scan showed that the stroke was in the lower left quadrant of her brain. Her right side is paralyzed, she can’t speak…Dad says there’s no real sign of cognition, although she seemed to recognize her brother Gerald when he arrived. Dad’s not sure how they measure that — agitation, maybe, or a rise in her blood pressure. The doctors have her on morphine for the pain, as well, which they also try to track by watching her blood pressure.

It stands to reason, though, that you’d at least have a nasty headache after a stroke.

The assumption so far is that she will not be going back to her house on Overbrook Drive. If she recovers, she will still need full-time care. It’s certainly possible to come back from even a major stroke…but Memere is in her 80s, and she has been unwell and quite frail for some years now.

I asked her, that last night in Vermont last week, if she’d ever thought she would live to be a great-great-grandmother. “Jenny,” she said (yes, she still calls me that, and no, you may not, unless you are a Gingras by birth or by marriage), “I never thought I’d live as long as I have.”

It’s been 24 years since she lost Pepere. That’s a long, long time to miss and mourn someone you love so much, and I don’t think remarrying was ever a consideration for her — Joseph Bernard Gingras was her husband, and that was that. She has outlived so many of her friends and family, right down to her baby sister. And this is an old-fashioned lady — family and faith are her life, plain and simple.

When Mom died, Memere had a hard time with it. She told me it was the first time she’d lost one of her kids, and that she’d lost her best friend at the same time.

(Mom spent a lot of time with Memere, regardless of the divorce, especially after her own mother died. She always said she was a Gingras longer than she was a Whipple.)

So I’m doing a lot of smiling through the tears this week. The memory of Steph and Rachel’s wedding and the extended musing about the whole family are still sparking around my brain, and my heart. I’d forgotten, too, until I got home Wednesday night, that I’d gotten chilled and pulled out my quilt Tuesday night, then slept better than I had in a week. After I got the news, I went home and found it still on my bed. (The quilt was Memere’s wedding gift to me…to us, technically, but really? It was to me. Butterflies = granddaughter quilt, not grown-woman-with-a-husband quilt.)

It’s a magic quilt, just so you know. If I feel like I’m coming down with something, I wrap up in that quilt and go to sleep, and I wake up all better. It works Every. Single. Time. We could wipe out H1N1 if we all had Memere quilts.

That last night at her house, she showed me the quilt she was making for Katherine — a wedding gift for her and Amy. It’s the last one, she said, and then “all her girls will have their quilts.” That some squares of Kath’s quilt are made with the same fabric as mine is a metaphor not lost on me.

I think we would all like Memere to be with us forever. If I try to see through her eyes, though, I think she might feel like she has been with us forever. I smile through the tears because I know there’s more reason to be happy than sad. If she stays with us a while longer, hooray! We get to keep our Memere! But if we lose her, we know where her faith will take her, that she will not be alone there, and that she has lived and raised us well.

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