My grandmother passed away on Saturday at the age of 96. I was able to take a couple days off of work to go visit her last week when it became clear that she wouldn’t be with us much longer. She was confused and unable to leave her bed, but she was relentlessly cheerful. She was concerned the nurses would hurt their backs when they shifted her in her bed. She saw the number of people who had gathered to spend time with her, and was convinced she was having a birthday party. And when she passed, the crowd in her room included her son, grandchildren, great grandchild, and a number of friends from the nursing home.
She once told me about her travels in Italy and how Italian men would often harass women who were traveling alone. And then she told me she would love to watch what I would do to the guy who tried grab my ass. Who knew Grandma had a violent streak? I’ll miss her little vignettes, all of her complicated juxtapositions of personality, her flower arrangements, and her birthday notes – I don’t think she ever missed one. And I’ll keep training BJJ with her in mind, so when I finally do take that trip to Italy, I can, with excellent technique, show her what I’d do to that unsuspecting Italian guy who tries to grab my ass. Take him down and go to knee in belly, probably. I think she’d like that.
As my mom says, nobody gets out of life alive. In BJJ terms I guess you could say we all tap out eventually. The challenge is to learn as much as you can, take advantage of the opportunities, and enjoy your roll.
Grandma, congratulations on a life well lived! I’ll miss you.