My Last Thanksgiving with My Grandma

Sarah Willey
2 min readNov 24, 2023

Today I drove to my grandparent’s house on Thanksgiving Day for the last time.

Something you should know about my grandma — she went all out for Thanksgiving. She and my grandpa hosted every year while I was growing up. Martha Stewart couldn’t find a way to make it better than she did. From the depression glass we only used at Thanksgiving to the pies made from scratch, she made it a special day and gave all of us amazing memories.

My grandparents with me, my sister, and two of our cousins

They haven’t hosted in years; at some point it became too much work for them to handle, and my parents took on the role of host.

In January, she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. It’s a terminal diagnosis. As her caregiver, I’ve been with her at every appointment and it has been such a bittersweet year. She is stubborn and a fighter, but her cancer is aggressive and her time with us has grown quite short.

This year, I knew she would not be well enough to come to my parent’s house, and she wouldn’t have the appetite to enjoy any of the treats. I planned to visit and check on her, and remind her that it’s because of her that my Thanksgivings have been so wonderful.

When I arrived, she was asleep, and my grandpa and I decided not to wake her. I’m glad she was able to get rest today. Grandpa talked to me about burial plots and funeral arrangements. Then he told me stories about his parents and other family members who I wasn’t able to know.

It was a bittersweet day. I am grateful, at almost 40, to have grandparents, and while her illness is painful, there are also moments of joy in the journey. No role I have ever had has been as meaningful as caring for her. Never have I been closer to her and my grandpa than I am now, and that deeper relationship is special.

So while I shed some tears today, my heart is also full.

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Sarah Willey

Consultant, writer, business scholar. Nonprofit nerd; passionate about relationship-building and community. sarah@sarahwilleyllc.com