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  • From the last weeks on down to what are surely the final days of her life, she finally played her last card. A wild card. The ol' gal did it. Hidden under the cuff of her sleeve she threw a card on the table none of us were expecting. She went crazy.
    I guess the question is not what made her go crazy but why had she not gone crazy sooner? Of course, I hesitate to use the word "crazy", "looney bird", or other decompositions of the form, but I know my grandmother would have used the very same word under the same circumstances. Only I am sure that in true Southern form she would have added the customary "well bless her heart".

    I can hear her now, wringing euphemisms out through the course of my life:
    "That Hattie, she just can't bake a decent pound cake to save her life, bless her heart" or "That Evelyn, Lord have mercy, she must not use the nose in front of her face. She needs to lay off the garlic supplements, bless her heart".
    You see, it's just the way of tempering a hard truth with a soft, circular rub on the back. It's just the way it's done.
    So I don't think my grandmother, knowing her generous and compassionate nature, would mind one bit when I say "she's done gone bat-shit crazy, bless her heart".

    We weren't expecting her to take the snow globe of reality, turn it upside down, then sit back to watch all the pretty pieces fall to the top of the sky. We weren't expecting that in her final moments, reality or any semblance of it, would be a war wagged in her mind. My parting hope was that she would have peace and comfort.

    This hasn't happened and is the most difficult piece for me to reconcile. The strongest person I have ever known, the one that picked me up until I was big enough to pick my own self up, is now too frail to move her legs in her hospital bed or swallow applesauce. Her mind is too brittle to distinguish paranoid delusions of thieves, molesters, and spiders from the the noises that clang and bang in the halls of Hospice.
    I say to her when she mutters the mumbo-jumbo of terminal confusion: "No, you are safe. That's just a thought going through your mind and will leave soon. You're in bed and this is Tiffany talking to you and holding your hand. I love you".
    I look at veins and bones through the translucent skin of her hand and watch as she squeezes my hand tighter. I respond by squeezing her hand tighter. Part of her must still be in there somewhere but I only see crescent moon eyes sliver to let dry light into her mind. Light that will do no good and not change one damn thing of this dying.
    I watch, stroke her gray hair, as she fetches visions from both this side of heaven and yon. I stare at her wondering what it all must look like to her being so close to death, but knowing, if the fates turn, I could be on the other side of life faster than she could swat at a cat.
    She closes her eyes and seems to drift back to that unreal, hazy land with indistinguishable borders. I kiss her on her forehead to say goodbye. She whispers by broken breath to me, "Hurry back. Hurry back".
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