Two weeks ago I was back in Las Vegas with my grandmother who was feeling better. She and I were going to her immuno-therapy appointments from 9:30am to 5.30pm each day while the drugs she was hooked up to killed the cancer cells coursing through her body. I was feeling angry about her having to deal with such a cruel disease at this point in her life.
My grandmother, however, was not angry. She was her usual happy self. She didn’t seem scared either. I told her one evening after her treatment that she was an incredible role model and in this time of her life, especially, she continued to be a person who showed others how to accept and graciously work through whatever they had been dealt. Grandma was a little surprised by my declaration and said she didn’t know what she was doing that seemed so “special”.
Isn’t that something? She didn’t even see how “special” she is…perhaps that’s part of what makes her so wonderful.
When she walks into her oncologist’s office for treatment every single nurse says “hello”, which sometimes means a nurse has to go out of her way to find Grandma. They call her by name. They share a quip or funny story (most recently about the handsome paramedics who took Grandma to hospital by ambulance the last time she was in for treatment). Nurse Amy, in particular, likes to remind her, “there’s no chest compressions until the second date”. Grandma just laughs.
To be sure, she’s no saint and she wouldn’t want you to see her as one either. She complained once that her bottom hurt from sitting in the blue pleather chair she has had to be in for eight hours solid. I did hear her pass a comment about the bruises developing on her left hand from the needles. And, oh, yes, there was something about not being able to drive just yet. To be sure, she’s no saint.
Sometimes I think she likes us to think she’s a bit of a “dragon lady”, the nickname she was given when she worked many years ago for the government. Truthfully, I have never seen that side of her and given how she charms the pants off every Tom, Dick and Harriet, I seriously wonder about the moniker. She is serious, however, when it comes to tasks: never messing around when there’s something that needs to be done. I think that’s how she sees her treatment. It’s just something that needs to be done.
And so she goes, day to day, with an attitude so positive, a smile on her face, a flower tucked behind one ear (her trademark style). She’s thankful for her life, her family and her friends. She doesn’t see herself as brave (that’s reserved for people who risk their lives to help others or protect their country). She’s just getting on with whatever is ahead of her. True to form, she continues to show all of us how to walk through this terrifying experience with grace.
Do you have a “Grandma” in your life? I don’t mean a grandparent, per se, but someone who, like my grandmother, is a role model without realising it. If so, maybe you’ll do as I’m doing now, count your blessings, learn the lessons they have to teach, and let him or her know just how much they mean to you. Go on. Don’t wait. And, if you’re up to it, feel free to share your story. I’d love to hear it.