A Eulogy for Nancy Rowan

(Reed’s playlist for this occasion: I Miss You by Blink-182Glycerine by Bush; Socco Amaretto Lime by Brand New)

I wish I could post on a place with more traffic, but I suppose this blog will have to do.

My grandmother is dying. She’s in her late 80’s and has been stricken with Alzheimer’s for a few years. Over this past weekend, she caught pneumonia, and my mother’s family has decided to let her slip out of the tortured state she’s been in for far too long. She will most likely pass sometime tonight.

If you have any warm thoughts, prayers, or pity, don’t send it to me. Send it to my mother, who’s had to deal with this in a much more intimate way.

See, here’s the thing about my grandmother. For a long while, I wasn’t her biggest fan. In fact, you might say I resented her for the influence she had on my mother.

I love my mother more than practically anyone in the world. She has always been my support, my reason when I had none, and my oasis. But the rest of her family has had their issues, both personally and with each other. It wouldn’t be kind to post them here, so I won’t.

What I will say is that my mother came out of a fractured household in which siblings didn’t speak to one another and to their parents, sometimes for years. Much of what my mom remembers about her early life is being left alone, neglected by her parents. It’s a miracle to me she’s become such a steadfast and dependable woman, under the circumstances.

When the Alzheimer’s first hit Nancy, my mom took the brunt of it. At that time she was primarily responsible for Nancy’s care, and the early paranoid states wrought havoc on her relationship with her mother, which only grew worse as Nancy degenerated.

I watched my mom struggle with my grandmother’s illnesses over the past few years. I watched her siblings make it more difficult on her. In the interest of full disclosure, I have privately wished for Nancy to die, to ease the burden on my mom.

But something happened today. I got a call from my mom while finishing up some work in lab, not an hour ago. She told me the facts – that Nancy had been placed on a morphine drip, that they had removed all artificial support to breathing – and then she said that all of the siblings were there.

This may be the first time they’ve all been together in a decade (perhaps longer).

I started thinking, as I walked home. What kind of person is Nancy Rowan? She was not the best mother to her children. She was cruel to my grandfather, a man I love with my whole heart for his kind soul.

But despite everything, despite the conflicts and the personal struggles, all of her children made it out to be with her when she passes tonight. For one night, they will put aside everything to be as a family once more.

What kind of person is Nancy Rowan? She is the kind of person who instilled in her children an understanding for what is most important. And to me, that speaks more loudly than anything else she has done in her life.

Go peacefully, Grandma. I love you.

-R.R. Buck


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