We sat on her big blue leather couch in the historic Greene & Greene home she lived in just off Orange Grove for over 40 years. Mima had a romantic, humorous and mischievous way about her. Playful, smart as a whip, and loving, she raised six kids, was the kind of grandmother every grandchild dreams of. She loved romance, handsome men in uniform, smart women and was a great cook, with an infectious laugh and did I mention she was a little bit mischievous?
So, Patrick huh. Well, that's a nice name. The tricky part was, my soon to be fiancé was in the other room - and his name was definitely not Patrick!
A couple years later, at my wedding Mima was having a glorious time. Her whole family had gathered for a celebration and her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren surrounded her with love. As the day came to a close, I went to say goodbye, and she looked at me - clearly a bit confused and said, "Oh wait, this is your wedding Summers? Hmmm, I hadn't realized that."
That was the moment I knew my sweet grandmother, kind, loving, and oh so warm was losing her mind to Alzheimer's. I think it was the last time our entire family gathered with Mima. Weddings are good for that.
Her mind's decline came slowly. She knew what was happening the day we moved her into her retirement home and she was mad. She was never mean, but she was mad. A few months later, she had forgotten that she was mad. A few years later, she forgot that she had lived in Pasadena, and a few years later, she forgot who I was.
The thing is, my Mima stayed sweet. She stayed kind. Even on Christmas a month ago, when I sat and told her stories about my adventures in school, adventures in job hunting, adventures in dating (because she was right, I should have probably held out for a Patrick), she laughed, she sparkled, and she smiled. She had no idea who I was but since I was willing to entertain her, she was happy to be entertained.
This morning a priest delivered my Mima's last rights. Her body has finally given up to the battle that her mind has long since lost, and we are all very sad. She rests peacefully with those who love her by her side and it is just a matter of time before she joins the other Brennans and Stanifords and McKays in heaven.
And in this loss, as with many, there is also a toast. A toast to kindness, laughter, love and mischief. Because even if you lose just about everything - even your mind, you can still be kind.
|Mima & Donny, April 16, 2005|