Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Celebrating 100 years

Recently my grandmother (grandma) Meribel Cockerill passed away. She was born on July 11, 1917 and passed away on March 23, 2017. I can’t even imagine living that long!

Friends are telling me they are sorry for my loss. I am sorry, but celebrating. She was not well for many years and honestly, she was miserable on this earth.

Most of my life I never lived near either set of my grandparents. I did, however, live with my grandma Cockerill for six months after my ostomy surgery. It was one of the blessings that came out of a pretty horrible year.

My grandfather had just passed away, and my mom had to return to her job in Germany. I was a LOT better than I had been during the nearly two months I spent in the hospital – but I wasn’t well enough to go back to college or be on my own. Often staying at my grandparents could be stressful. I couldn’t drive, so I couldn’t get out to go to the mall or grab a hamburger. My grandparents didn’t have 18 plus years of experience raising a child with a visual disability, so they were constantly worried about me. Even just going to walk around the building to get fresh air could create anxiety for them and result in tension between us.

When I came to live with my grandma after my surgery, however, walking to the elevator from her apartment was an accomplishment. Day by day I would go a little further and she was okay with it. We got along perhaps the best that we ever did. We really needed each other. I wish I had appreciated more at the time how much I wish I could have asked her now. Her mind was still together then, and it would have been such an opportunity to learn things I wish I knew now.

My grandma Cockerill’s maiden name was Hernandez. Her father, Jose Hernandez, had come to the mainland United States to go to college from Puerto Rico. I didn’t know I had HPS then, or how much I’d wish in later life that I had a way of contacting distant relatives in Puerto Rico. At that time she was in touch with a living cousin who had been a school psychologist.

Sometimes she would tell me stories about visiting her grandma in Puerto Rico as a kid. It wasn’t a simple flight like it is now. They would take a ship – often from New York – and then spend months on the island. Considering that they lived in Oklahoma, that really was quite a trip!

My grandma was the first person who tried to teach me to knit. My parents had gone on a trip for a week, and my grandma and grandpa had come to take care of Ryan and I. At that point in my life I wanted to be Laura Ingels Wilder when I grew up. Knitting seemed like a pioneer kind of thing to do. We went to the store and she bought me some yarn and knitting needles. I never finished the project since, after a week, no one was around to help me. What I knitted was supposed to be a scarf, but it sort of turned into a triangle with a bunch of holes in it. Yet, decades later, when I made my second attempt to learn to knit in college, I did still remember how to knit and purl. Grin!

When my grandma was sick this time, out of curiosity I looked up news headlines from about the time of her birth. She was born weeks before the first draft card was pulled to send troops to World War I. Aviation was just getting off the ground – pun totally intended. Now, we have rovers on Mars sending back photos and videos from the planet’s surface. I’ve seen the stars (via the rover camera) from the vantage point of standing on Mars.

When she was born, no one listened to radios. Today, we have the internet and I regularly communicate with friends around the world.

Although we will greatly miss her, I know she’s happy and whole with her friends in family in heaven. I just hope I don’t join her there anytime soon. While I doubt I’ll walk the Earth 100 years, I still have a lot to do here!

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