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Grandma passed away today. Daughter passed out.

After suffering a stroke years ago, Grandma Florence developed Alzheimer’s. For a number of years, during the early part of the disease, Grandma stayed with family. When she started having delusions and leaving the house to go places that didn’t make sense, she was placed in a homey facility that provided a certain level of care. As her condition worsened, this facility could no longer give her the care she needed, so she was placed in a nursing home. She has been there for years (4 or 5?) just humming along. While her mind seemed to be going in stages, her body remained healthy.

About three weeks ago, she took a dramatic turn for the worse when she stopped being able to swallow liquid. Over the course of these weeks, she stopped eating and her breathing became increasingly shallow. Her heart, however, remained incredibly strong. Due to that strong heart, she lasted much longer than anyone expected her to. Today, at 9:50 a.m., her heart and breath finally stopped.

I got the news in an unexpected place. Daughter and I were at the local medical clinic so that Daughter could have a physical for college. During the visit, Daughter had elected to get a couple of immunizations. We’ve had a conscientious objection to immunizations since the kids were little because our family has experienced several reactions to them. Now that Daughter is old enough, she can decide for herself whether to get vaccinations and she had decided to get the MMR and meningococcal vaccines.

She was nervous, but she took the first shot, the MMR, like a trooper. She said it didn’t really hurt. She was talking to the nurse as the nurse prepared the second shot. Suddenly, without any forewarning, her head slumped forward. I jumped out of my chair and the nurse and I leaned her back. Her eyes rolled back in her head and shook a little, then her eyes closed. A few moments later, her eyes were open, wide open, and she regained consciousness. I asked the nurse what was happening and she said Daughter had passed out. I have never seen anyone pass out before and to see it happen to my daughter was one of the scariest things I’ve witnessed.

We let her rest and recover. While she was doing so, I called work to tell my coworker that I would be a while longer. My coworker told me that my mom had called and she was sorry to relay the message that my grandma had died. Though the news was sad, it was not unexpected, and I was happy to have had several chances over the past week to visit her, kiss her forehead and tell her I loved her. She was a fabulous fun grandma, who encouraged my love of typing by letting me play with the typewriter in her office. I’m gonna miss her.

Daughter seems to have fully recovered from passing out. She told me this evening that she felt like she was asleep when she passed out. She said she had this dream she was falling through colored stars. What’s strange about this is that when she had opened her eyes after passing out, the nurse asked her if she had seen stars and she said no. When I told Daughter this, she said she didn’t remember the nurse asking her about seeing stars. Daughter also said the incident reminded her of a scene from a movie. When movie characters pass out, they always wake up with people peering into their faces, just like the nurse and I were doing with Daughter.

I think there’s been too much excitement for one day, but one more thought before I sign off for the evening. It dawned on me today that Grandma never knew about Facebook, yet she has twice been mentioned there today by her great-granddaughters. And now I’m blogging about her. That feels strange and amazing to me.

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