On October 20th, my amazing grandma turned 95 years old. I was 500 miles away from her, missing her birthday for the first time in either of our lives since I came into this world. It wouldn’t have mattered even if I had been there, Grandmommy refused to celebrate this birthday telling everyone, “It’s no big deal.”
No big deal my ass.
Granted, we are used to hearing “it’s no big deal” from my grandma, but her idea of “no big deal” is a little skewed. This is the woman who called my mother the night I was allowed to eat spaghetti on my own for the first time to tell my mom know, “I’m having a heart attack. It’s no big deal.” After vehemently refusing to take an ambulance to the hospital, (she would take a taxi, it’s no big deal) my grandma passed out in the lobby of the apartment building. No big deal, I’m sure.
But I digress. This year her birthday was a big deal. This year alone my grandma has undergone three major heart surgeries. Having been diagnosed with congestive heart failure three years ago, my grandma completely changed her lifestyle. She was determined to beat the disease that was threatening her life. Even so, her heart valves were failing and they were failing fast. I figured that Christmas 2011 was my last one with my grandma. I had a gut feeling that she would hold on long enough to see me graduate and then she would let go. I prayed I was wrong but unfortunately I was not.
The night of my graduation my grandma went into the hospital. May 12, 2012. My mom told me later that Grandma had known for a while that things were not working out for her body. She was so miserable. Grandma knew she needed to fix things or let go. So at 94 years old she decided to undergo a new procedure, just approved by the FDA in June, that would replace the valve in her heart without the need to open her up completely. There were no guarantees but she let us know that “it’s no big deal.”
Three surgeries, months in rehab, and one new heart valve later I no longer recognize Grandma. She has a new lease on life at 95 and she is living it to the fullest. She inspires me each and every day. At her rehab facility she pushes people in their 70s to try harder in physical therapy classes. She takes care of those who cannot take care of themselves any longer. She might be 95 but that isn’t going to stop the “old dogs” from asking her on a BINGO date. Just a few months ago I thought I was going to lose her forever and now she is gallivanting around like a woman half her age.
But, you know…it’s no big deal.