I know I have spent a post or two on this blog bitching about my German grandfather and his lack of interest. I haven't, however, mentioned my non-grandparents on here before.
When we moved back to the States originally back in '97, we ended up living in Kirkland, WA for two years. There was an older couple across the street from us, and we quickly developed a relationship with them. After we moved to Illinois, we stayed in close contact with them, and since I still had other friends in Washington, I usually would spend my spring breaks there, and there was always a spare bedroom for me at their place.
Evelyn has had myriad of health problems over the years but she has always been very tough, and kept right on going. She already had a muscle deterioration disease when we met her, but she would still be outside gardening all the time, with whatever contraption necessary to help her stand up. It was amazing how much she would still continue to do despite real health problems when my grandmother (my dad's mom) who was younger would take naps all the time and talk about how sick she was when there was really nothing wrong with her.
Despite all these health problems, Dick and Evelyn drove down to Illinois when I graduated college and commissioned. Dick and my mom pinned my rank on me, and then my dad gave me my first salute. I have long been referred to as the grandkid (compare this to the biological grandfather that couldn't even drive an hour and a half to see me). They sent me a few packages when I was downrange, and sent me cards for all the holidays.
Last March, Evelyn was diagnosed with cancer, and given a six month life expectancy. I had just taken leave back to the States right before so I couldn't go back to see her at that time. It is now January, and while she has had good and bad days, she was still hanging on. I figured I would go see her once my class started and I got the schedule. Given everything else Evelyn has ever had, I really thought she would just keep on going. She took a turn for the worse yesterday, so I'm flying out to Seattle this weekend to see her. At the moment, she can't speak but understands what people are saying to her. While her husband told my mom she might only have a week, for me it is hard to believe that she won't pull through somehow since she has been surprising doctors for a very long time now.
My maternal grandmother died very suddenly, so none of us had a chance to say goodbye to her, and I wasn't close to my paternal grandfather (I didn't even attend the funeral). While I want to go, of course, there's also a part of me that doesn't want to see the feisty old lady I knew in a weakened state. I've never had to deal with this kind of stuff before, which makes me rather fortunate.