92: A Sister’s Visit

92: A Sister’s Visit

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grand and Great

A Sister’s Visit

Is solace anywhere more comforting than
in the arms of a sister?

~Alice Walker

Gram and her sister, Acq, were close in age, and the bond between them was so strong they visited each other almost daily. But when she was ninety-three, Gram’s health deteriorated, and she finally became homebound. Although they lived only sixteen miles apart, visits were no longer possible for them; they were both too ill to make the trip. I was privileged to be my grandmother’s major caregiver, and I knew how desperately they missed each other and longed to be together again. It was always on my mind.

One cold winter day, Gram sat up in bed and said, “I want to see my sister.” She was still weak from her last hospitalization; her face was pale and drawn from the weight she had lost.

“You can see her in the spring,” I soothed.

Her eyes widened. “No, that’s too long.”

I knew Gram’s time on earth was limited. She and Acq needed to see each other... but how? Then I had an idea. The next morning, I brought out the video camera.

“Gram, you can talk to your sister through this.” I showed her how it worked. She threw her head back, laughed a little and said, “Okay.” She went into the bathroom, washed her face and combed her hair. Then she held the camera and looked deeply into the lens. Gram spoke softly, “Acq, I’m too sick to come over and see you.... I miss you and we will be together again soon.” Gram smiled. “When the garden is ready, I’ll send you some of my tomatoes.”

Her eyes sparkled and her voice became stronger. “Byebye, Acq.”

I drove over to visit my aunt and told her I had a message for her. I helped her into the bedroom, where a picture of her and Gram sat next to the bed. I handed her the camera and turned it on. As soon as Gram started talking, my aunt sat up straight, excited, and answered her back. “Lizzie, you look good. I have missed you too, it’s been so long.” She sat back and listened to the rest of Gram’s message to her. She looked at me as she wiped a tear from her eye. “If I talk, will Lizzie hear me?”

I told her yes, and she combed her hair just like Gram had, while displaying a renewed sense of spirit. When I pressed the record key, Aunt Acq’s voice grew stronger. “Hi, Lizzie, it was nice to see you today.” She turned to me. “Maybe she can’t hear me.” She held the camera with both hands and shouted, “I’d like some of your Italian beans from the garden, too.”

We walked to her closet and opened the door while I continued to film. “You know my grandson Gerry’s getting married in a few weeks. This is my new dress and shoes. I hope I’ll be well enough to go.”

As I left, I told my aunt I would return in a few days. I was not sure if either of them truly understood this method of communicating, but Aunt Acq hugged me and said, “Thanks for bringing Lizzie here to me.”

Gram and I settled in on the couch, next to a picture of the sisters from last summer’s family picnic. I draped my arm over her shoulder and showed her the whole video. When she saw herself talking, she giggled with excitement, “That’s me!” We both laughed at the same time. When Aunt Acq started talking, Gram’s eyes brightened and her whole face lit up. She reacted the same way my aunt had, holding the camera up close. “Hi Acq, it’s good to see you again.”

When Gram said that and looked up at me, tears streamed down my cheeks. At dinner that night, Gram said, “It was nice to see Acq today, she looks pretty good.”

For the next few months they “visited” each other regularly. While they were never physically together again, they were “close” to the end.

~Paula Maugiri Tindall
Chicken Soup for the Grandma’s Soul

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