My last remaining grandparent, my Memere Duclos, passed away last night. She lived out many of her last years in a nursing home struggling with Alzheimer's disease.
I only visited her a few times in the past couple of years. This may be selfish to admit, but those visits were often more painful for me than I could bear. Matt and I visited her the Christmas after we got married, because I wanted her to meet him. We sat down with my wedding album and I pointed to her children, to my cousins, to myself. I said, "Memere, these are your sons and your grandchildren," and she would just reply, "Really? Is that so!"
I cried when we left. Memere remembered so little of everything. The home she at was filled with sadness and full of seemingly forgotten people. I went back there with my father for Mother's Day where I thought I saw a glimmer of recognition behind Mem's mischievous little smile. I'm glad that that was my last memory of her. It is enough.
Memere looking on as I blow out the candles on my third birthday
In better days you could always count on two things during a visit to Memere and Pepere Duclos' apartment. A can of Coke or Gingerale while you stayed, and a bag of M&M's when you left. They kept the M&M's on the such a high shelf that my tiny Memere had to stand on a step stool to reach them. Predictable. Always the same. Soda and M&M's. What child wouldn't love that?
Pepere and I circa 1984
My Pepere died of stroke-related complications when I was just twelve. He was the first person that I ever knew that died, and it was just devastating for me. My grandmother was not an independent woman, and I don't think that she ever recovered from the loss of my grandfather. She said to me once when I was a teenager, "I'm just waiting to go - I don't understand why God's taking such a long time."
Swan Lake, 1998: My dad, me, my sister Renee and Memere
It took God fourteen years to take her back, but I know that somewhere she's settling in with Pepere to watch the Canadiens play hockey, serving up soda and M&M's.
Today, amidst this current sadness, I've gotten the opportunity to interview as an outreach teacher with a huge dance organization. Probably top five largest in the country kind of huge. Memere's pulling strings from heaven already! I'm very thankful for this. Keep your fingers crossed for me! What are you thankful for today?