Final Chapter~Saying Goodbye to Burning Yarn and Greyhound Buses

This will be the last installment. For the beginning you can start here:

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Saying Goodbye

I am a little sad to see the story coming to an end. I hope it touches you today.

The only thing I remember about the rest of the trip was more crocheting.

We got to the bus station and boarded the bus for home. Grandma showed me how to do a single stitch and a double stitch, making me practice all the way home. Thinking back, it probably was because she exhausted herself with everything we did during the day and the treatment side effects creeping up on her. The crocheting kept me quiet.

While there were many other, more quiet memories with my Grandma after this trip, the good times are the ones that I like to remember the most.

She always told the story of her conversation with the doctor when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Vera, even with treatment, the prognosis isn’t good. Maybe a year, two tops.” They told her.

She recalled that she looked the doctor in the eye and told him, “No fucking wet-nosed doctor is going to tell me when to  god damn die.”

She walked out that day and fought the fight for 20+ years

Until one day.

When her strength wasn’t enough.

Her self-sufficiency was gone.

Her resilience was worn down like an old rubber tire.

She didn’t need to brave anymore.

She passed away on a cold March day in 1982. I got the call to go to the office during Social Studies in 8th grade where I was told I needed to go home. Somehow, I knew what had happened.

The morning that she passed away she had an argument with my Grandpa. She overheard him telling the doctor that everything was to be done to save her.

She opened her eyes one last time, looked at him and told him “Fuck you. It’s not your choice. You didn’t care then, don’t start now.”

She closed her eyes and never said another word. She was finally at peace.

I like to think that I got her resilience, bravery and self-sufficiency from her. Her legacy to me, will be mine to my daughter.

I lift a glass to you, Grandma. I know you are watching over me and you come to my dreams when I most need encouragement.

My Grandma

For the beginning start here:


Cherry Pits, Laughter and Strength~Part 3 of Burning Yarn and Greyhound Buses

Welcome back!

Normally, I don’t do these installment stories but since I had to tell 10 things about me that nobody knows, and I talked about my Grandma, it only seemed right.

I am now on a journey.

And along the way, I am realizing so many things that I wish I had known then.

Cherry Pits and Laughter

That night we walked through a darkened campus, carrying our treasures back to our room.

We got settled in and Grandma tells me what is coming next.

“We are going to have a cherry pit spitting contest! We each sit on our beds with the garbage between us and take turns spitting the pits into into the can.”

Of course, we could never do this kind of stuff at home so it was the coolest thing ever.

We ate cherries and spit pits until our stomachs couldn’t hold another cherry and were sore from laughing so hard we almost peed! Dang, those pits could bounce!

Getting late, we talked about the next day’s schedule. She wasn’t just there for a check up. She was there for one of her treatments. She explained that tomorrow would not be fun for me but she had plans for the next day.

You see, my Grandma had been in a battle for 20+ years. She was diagnosed at age 32 with invasive breast cancer. What I thought was just a check up was so much more. She was undergoing treatment for colon cancer that had been detected previously.

This week would be yet another treatment.

Because the treatment was so special, she couldn’t be treated at home. So once a month, she traveled by bus for her treatment, most of the time…alone. My Grandpa was pretty useless as a person husband and was not supportive of her during what had to have been a horrible time.

I knew she had been undergoing treatment as I had seen the side effects of the chemotherapy, her hair falling out, being sick all the time. It was hard to watch.

What a way to end such a fun night.

Early the next morning, we got up and walked to the hospital cafeteria for breakfast. We were both quiet. Me, because I didn’t know what to expect. Her, because she knew what to expect.

Her first appointment was for the blood work to make sure she was well enough to get her treatment. A sigh of relief when it was.

Her next, longest and last appointment of the day was for the treatment. We sat outside the room, waiting for what seemed like forever.

They called her name.

“Vera, we are ready for you.”

She handed me a crossword puzzle book and a pen, some change for the vending machines and admonished:

“Now you be good, see how many puzzles you can finish before I come out.”

I can’t remember how many puzzles I did but I do remember walking to the vending machine and buying candy and a pop.

Walking through the hall, I would glance into the treatment rooms not expecting to see anyone or anything. If the doors were open, I would see machines, gloves, curtains but never anyone.

Until the the last one. It was directly across from my chair.

As I sat down, I couldn’t help but look.

On the table there was a child, not much younger than me, draped for a procedure with a hip exposed and the instrument ready to go. I know it was wrong, but I was both amazed and horrified. I hadn’t known what I was witnessing at the time but I later learned that it was a bone marrow extraction.

I am not sure how long I waited for Grandma. It could have been 1 hour or it could have been 5 hours.

When she came out, she looked exhausted. She wanted to go back to our room to rest a while.

I read while she slept.

Later that evening we walked to the hospital cafeteria again to eat and plan the next day. We were going to get on the city bus and take it where ever we landed.

My Grandma was strong.

Looking back, I don’t know how she mustered enough strength to get up and walk across campus to eat.

It was because she was strong.

She had to be.