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My grandmother, who’s 89 years old, was rushed to the hospital last week. When she was in the ER, the doctors said that she required emergency heart surgery to live. She declined and went back home to die. Well, not exactly. She is still alive—but we don’t know how much longer we will have her. The doctors say it can be a matter of “days or years” before she passes.

Days or years? What do you do with that? She doesn’t seem to have a bucket list and seems quite content engaging in her daily routine: retrieving the newspaper from the driveway each morning, watching her soap opera in the afternoon, and falling asleep to The Tonight Show each evening.  Meanwhile , presumably to help her "buy" more time, my dad and his siblings have tried to restrict her intake of “unhealthy” foods such as Pepsi and shrimp po’ boys. Like that’s the answer.

I have great memories of her and will miss her when she is gone. I am in awe when I think about what she has seen and survived as an African American woman who was born, raised, and lived her entire life in New Orleans. What the Great Depression and Jim Crow didn’t do, Katrina accomplished in a matter of hours. But through it all, my grandmother kept it together: she’s grown, maintained, and rebuilt family, home, and community many times over.

I am thankful for who she is and everything she has accomplished. If I am able to see her again before she passes away, I am definitely going to sneak her a plate of fried shrimp along with a tall glass of iced Pepsi-Cola.  She deserves it.

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