Twenty-one years ago my Grandfather died of cancer. The love and devotion his wife had for him was so strong their children thought she wouldn't last the year without him. But, time passed, and my grandmother stayed on, refusing to live anywhere but home. Years passed and she stayed alone in the house they raised their children in. Her and her black and white TV.

As the years passed her children came to accept just how stubborn of a woman she was. One of her sons moved to America, maybe seven years before his dad died, and met an artist named Nancy. Every Christmas he would call his mother, more out of responsibility than desire I think. But, Christmas was a time when his siblings would be around to take the phone too. Her hearing gradually faded and the past few times I heard these conversations she would pass the phone to her daughter.

Something happened there, some clashing of minds, two wills stubborn and resolute ended up driving my father away. What deep tragedy could be worth never really talking to your mother again?

One by one she out-lasted her friends. And they worried about her sitting alone with less and less people to talk to every year, but joked about how she was so stubborn she'd live to see one hundred. I remember last year when her little black and white set finally died. she would not have color. "No" she said and sent her children to London in search of another old school model, only to have them return with news that they could not be bought any more.

She liked the color. It made her smile as she sat alone in her cold dark house.

Eleven days ago friend of hers gave her a call and got no response. She called my aunt and suggested she stop by to check on her. My Grandmother was unconscious and jaundiced when she arrived. Rushed to hospital and doctors care, brothers and sisters, daughters and sons waited for word.

"We don't know what's wrong with her. She has internal bleeding but we need to do more tests." So they waited and held her hand. The doctors came back soon and told them she didn't have long to live. She was old. Her body was failing. Maybe they could perform surgery but the damage they inflicted would be worse than the few weeks it might extend her life. They gave her a week and my father was called.

"She has cancer" they said. "liver and pancreatic."

When my mother died her pale skin had turned a dark yellow. Her eyes were no longer white. Looking at her was the hardest trial. When my father arrived in England he was met with the same sight.

One week they had given her, one week. She held on hoping to see her son who had left so long ago. So convinced of her stubbornness they thought maybe she would hold out to see her great grandchildren be born in a month.

A few days later my dad returned.

Two days ago he called me and said they had found cancer in her lungs too.

An hour ago he called to tell me she died this morning.

This morning my grandmother died. I don't even know her name but I will weep for her. I will weep for the gulf that grew between her and my father. I will weep for the fact that I couldn't go say goodbye to a woman I loved but barely knew. I will weep for the fact that I can't be with my family after her wake.

What could be worth 30 years of separation? What could be worth not staying for her final days?

I'm sorry I never knew you gram, but maybe we will talk more now that you can hear me better.

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