I Can’t Complain

I can’t complain,” were the words you always heard from my grandmother when you asked how she was doing.

She always said it with a crisp and positive delivery, you knew she believed those words and lived them.

Inez had the love of family and friends, a roof over her head, a passport full of stamps, and—for most of her life—a clean bill of health.

She couldn’t complain.

She was raised in Cincinnati, but was a world traveler. You name the country, Inez probably visited the place before its civil war—if it grew old enough to have one. 

For the last several years, though, our focused and headstrong matriarch fell ill to dementia. At first, it was small lapses in memory. Eventually she would forget conversations that happened in minutes and start them up again. 

It was frustrating, but still, she couldn’t complain.

Inez seemed to bounce back from a recent hip surgery. But after a week, her body began to falter and finally give way. 

Last Saturday, her family and friends came together to say goodbye, to be thankful she’s been released from pain and frustration, and dwell in the gratitude for her presence in our lives.

I like to believe my grandmother understood what I did for a living, she just didn’t take to it.

We tried over the years to think of simple ways for her to get an email address to write to family and friends, she would refuse—politely—all attempts at IT support. She wanted to talk to you, to hear your voice, to know that you were well.

When WebTV was a thing (before it become another thing), Inez would refuse to even try it. Even the fabled easy-to-use iPad never made the cut.

She was happy that I had a job in a new land, a new medium—but she wanted no part in it.

In an era of social media, people cut down each other for sport—jockeying for virtual wins. There is a lot of hatred out there.

Ease of communication to hundreds, or even thousands of followers, means the most witty of complaints gets the most likes, the most attention. 

I spent the weekend with family and friends and almost no devices, other than the occasional shared text or photo. We talked, laughed, and cried together and then went our separate ways, each of knowing the other was well.

Inez would have loved it.

2 thoughts on “I Can’t Complain

  1. well said Chris. She may not have understood, but she was proud of you and each of your brothers and sister. You were like stars in her crown. She would tell us of each of you as many of the times she was able before her memory could not hold it all.

    She was a woman of ways she knew, from the pot roasts she made for us and for Harry and for Your Mom. She did all with conviction and joy. She always said the “I am truly blessed.” She was and she thanked God for that.

    You will always carry her with you. She realized your Mom and therefore left her mark on each of you. Yes. She was proud of each of you. She will always be with and I in you.

  2. My grandmother was much the same way. Sturdy Iowa farm stock, and she didn’t complain either. “Waking up to another day is better than the alternative,” she’d observe. Dementia was slow to take my grandmother, and it was painful to see the struggle and loss take over. I know you were concerned about the post-surgical recovery, but I’m glad you got there in time to say your goodbyes. It still doesn’t make the loss any easier. May your memories warm you during this difficult time; my thoughts and prayers are with you and yours.

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