Today I’m grandma’s problem shirt didn’t die of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, or even old age. My grandmother died of a broken heart. She was my paternal grandmother and her husband, my grandfather, died 12 years prior to the side effects of a very long battle against skin cancer. He suffered for the better part of 13 years and she was at his side. She nagged, caressed, coached, nurtured, wept, and stood by as various cancers tore apart his insides while chemoradiation lost its hard-fought war. My grandfather was a great man, an illustrator of children’s books who moonlighted as the family comedian while being an incredible husband and patriarch to the family. My grandmother, on the other hand, had a smaller presence while she quietly sat sipping on a Sangria cocktail in the hot Argentina summer evenings, admiring the way my grandfather spoke.
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Today I’m grandma’s problem shirt quit all her extracurricular activities. She had no purpose for her aerobics classes since she no longer wanted to maintain physical health and her youthful figure, she stopped crocheting the beautiful handkerchiefs she made for my grandfather’s night sweats during his cancer treatment, in the end, she stopped leaving her apartment altogether. My grandfather left her financially stable, so money wasn’t an issue and my father, called her weekly. My father doesn’t like to talk about how she went, I think a part of him feels that he should have been there for her. I think she would have hated that. Even though she commanded the household where they both lived in their old age, she always stayed in the background and let her boisterous husband take the spotlight and tell stories at all the family gatherings.
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