My grandmother is very old and very sick. She suffers from Alzheimer’s. She is admitted to the hospital for dehydration and an inability(/unwillingness?) to eat. Two weeks ago the hospital admitted her for a urinary tract infection and further testing for small strokes. (I was told then that it is very common amongst the elderly in nursing homes because, of course, I was enraged.) With this being her second admittance within a month’s time, the level of concern is much higher.
My father is on vacation in Hawaii. I know that if something happens before he can return, he will never forgive himself. Any logical person can explain it away as “how was one to know” and “he needed that time to refresh for what may come”; although accurate statements, when regarding one’s mother, logic doesn’t hold a candle to emotions and/or guilt. I mention this only because it started my wheels churning about guilt in general.
(I wanted you to see how my thoughts link together)
I started thinking about my own guilt in regards to my grandmother then. She was presenting the early symptoms of Alzheimer’s back when I was still in high school (15 years ago). They were subtle and undiagnosed so we really just thought she was “slowing down” due to age and the loss of her husband. My grandpa died just a few years before this. I love my grandma with a fierce passion from my soul, but I was a rotten teen and I didn’t understand what was really going on. The way I spoke to her is enough to want to punch myself in my own eye. I had no patience, graciousness, or empathy for her struggle to get and keep her thoughts together. My expectations were for the same grandmother I had grown up with and when she couldn’t pan out anymore, I was rude, impatient, and sometimes just mean. (I want to reiterate though that even through all this, I loved her then with the same fierce passion from my soul, I was just a rotten young woman.)
This brings me to the main conversation point of this post: guilt.
I am hanging on to a guilt from 15 years ago. I know that if she could remember all those times that she would still forgive me because this is a woman who is the purest beacon of God’s love I have ever known. And God and I have been through it together and I know that He has forgiven me. So why then am I still crushed under the weight of the guilt??
Because I never verbally apologized when she was still “present” in life enough to understand. I never said what I should have said when I should have said it.
This woman deserves that and so much more from me.
I had not turned my life over to Christ yet during any of her coherent years, but I bombard myself all the time with that anyone with even a normal amount of morals beneath their messiness who genuinely loved their grandmother would have said it (even if they didn’t mean it at the time). I am ashamed. I am ashamed to even blog about this for others to know.
I discuss this with you because it really illustrates how great a change that accepting Jesus makes in a person and how vitally important it is to know God’s love before being able to express unselfish, real love to someone else. I mean, I loved her more than any other yet I couldn’t eat crow just once for her to feel better? Nope. Because I didn’t know God’s love and therefore couldn’t give real love to anyone else.
But, even knowing all that, I am still suffocated by my guilt.
That thought led me to this one: should I apologize to her now?
I am going to the hospital to sit with her so my sister, who has been there overnight, can take a rest. This will give me alone time with her.
Should I apologize to her tonight? She has long since lost her ability to speak at all or recognize people so even if she can still understand words, she wouldn’t know who was speaking them or why.
My question to everyone is this then: in apologizing now, under these circumstances, is the apology valid? Or would it be just to make myself feel better? That would make it selfish.
I leave you with the question and a closing thought: Do NOT let this happen to you. Apologize when you should. In the moment, even if you don’t want to/feel like you should or after the moment when you have another chance just to reconcile the relationship.
I still had opportunities after the initial fact and I didn’t take them because they were “so long ago” and “I already knew she’d forgiven me” and “she doesn’t remember anyway.” It. does. not. matter: You will run out of time.
A good dose of crow– make it for dinner.
(PS- This is not the “big” post; this is the life that is continuing while I’m still writing the really big one. Stay tuned!!)