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home : opinion : opinion June 24, 2016

4/1/2013 11:59:00 AM
Publisher's Column Musings on memories of a special friend

Our daughter Emily's paternal grandmother died last week. We knew she had cancer but understood from her letters and phone conversations that she was doing well. Then a week ago last Thursday, while Emily and I were on the way to Abilities Unlimited in Rochester, Emily tried to call her and learned she was in the hospital. We called her son and learned she had been admitted after her last chemo and was not expected to live more than three days. He said she was comatose and no longer responded to conversation.

Friday night, Emily wanted to talk to Grandma. Emily had wanted to see Grandma before she died and we'd missed that opportunity, so I said we would see if we could talk to her. I called the hospital and asked the nurse on the ward if she would hold the phone by Janis' ear so Emily could talk to her, and she agreed to do that. When Emily said "Hello, Grandma," Janis answered her. They talked for a couple minutes. Emily told her how much she loved her, that she was the best grandma any girl ever had, how much she treasured the letters Grandma had written her and asked Grandma how she was. Grandma told Emily she loved her, was doing well and that she always enjoyed Emily's telephone calls. Then they said goodbye. That was the last conversation Grandma had with anyone.

I'm not surprised that Grandma came out of her comatose state to talk to Emily. There has hardly been a week since Emily came home from the hospital after her accident that she hasn't gotten a letter from Grandma, and Emily has responded with a telephone call to her at least once a week.

Mel always said her former in-laws were wonderful people whom she loved as if they were her own parents and that losing them was the hardest thing about the divorce. She always wanted them to be part of Emily and David's lives, so we worked at trying to do that.

When Emily was 14, we learned that there was going to be a big family reunion in Montana. When she talked to father about going, he said they weren't going to go. She was very disappointed, so I talked to her grandparents and made arrangements to send her and David. When her father found out, he was livid and told her she couldn't go and not to contact his parents without his consent. After that, contact fell off for a while.

It was when Emily was 16 that her father decided to let me adopt Emily and David. He agreed to give up all parental rights and responsibilities but wanted us to continue to allow his parents to see the children, which was what we wanted as well.

That was very difficult for the grandparents but they dealt with it until after Emily's accident. After the accident, contact became more frequent, especially between Janis and me. Before that, I think Janis preferred to just pretend that I didn't exist-she was always cordial but didn't really talk to me nor did I to her.

After Emily's accident, our contact increased steadily. When she wrote to Emily, I would help Emily write back. I didn't know that Janis knew that until she thanked me. Every once in a while, we would talk. She wanted to know how Emily was doing and would tell me about the improvements she was seeing. Mel and I made some trips to Sidney, Montana, where the grandparents lived so they could visit with their grandchildren. Janis knew I loved her grandchildren and I knew she loved my two newest children. That is a strange bond but it worked to build a special love in my heart for Janis and her husband, Eldon.

We drove to Sidney again last week for the funeral. I'm glad we did but it was a difficult experience. There was a gathering of family and friends the night before the funeral, most of whom I have come to know and whom Mel has known for years. Mel's ex called when we got to Sidney to tell us he would pick up Emily and David but that we were not welcome.

We went to the funeral at the church. During the service, I kept thinking how strangely different people with the same genes can be - and how much we'll miss those weekly letters and telephone calls.

Have a great week.

Larry Dobson

Claremont Service

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