12/18/2012, 8:30 p.m. - Today, I believed it's true that you can die of a broken heart.
Think about it: 63 years of marriage. A couple that met in high school, married before graduation, and had the love to stay together for 63 years.
Until October 9, 2012.
At the age of 80, I lost my grandfather, Charles Dusett, Sr.
The whole family took it hard. We made extra calls and visits to make sure Grandma was doing alright.
We saw how the loss of a true life partner, a friend and lover of six decades, can impact a person.
Granted, in their later years, Grandma and Grandpa would bicker. They sounded like they became annoyed with one another.
At the same time instead of "Charles" and "Ada," they referred to one another as "Ma" and "Dad."
Grandma kept a diary every day since I was a kid, and probably before that time. Today, I found her diary on the table, and curiosity couldn't stop me from taking a peek. I speculated that she'd written some emotional reflections on us (alright, I was specifically looking for the days when I had visited her).
Turns out, it was more of a list of things she had accomplished in a day.
"Did the wash." "Chuck, Ernie, Dave and Scott called." "Jessi came home." "Warm day - 90 degrees." "Jason came over. We had soup for lunch."
But ever since October 9, 2012, every entry ended with "Love you, Dad."
Grandma Dusett battled pulmonary fibrosis. Taking a peek at each of those diary entries, remembering her tell me how she spoke to his ashes, and reading her words, I think the heart and the lungs were connected.
I'll remember my grandmother Ada Dusett as more than a woman who was married and devoted to the same man for eighty percent of her life.
As more than the loving mother of four sons, and proud grandmother to 14 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
As much taller as the 4'11" women who brought a smile to your face. One friend met her and called her, "Cute. Betty White Cute."
As more than the sometimes potty-mouthed jokester who could get you to cringe and laugh at the same time (I like to think I got that from her, as well as her blue eyes).
As more than the amazing cook who crafted spaghetti sauce from tomato juice (my apologies to anyone with Italian heritage - that being said, the sauce and the meatballs are still my favorites), and apple pies with an unmatched crust.
As more than the stubborn woman who wouldn't let the limits of a lung disease stop her (or for that matter, doctors' orders) from doing what she wanted to do, and accepting no limitations. When she was switched from a superior breathing apparatus that made her uncomfortable in her final days to an inferior one, one nurse estimated that she'd only survive 10 minutes. I think Ms. Stubborn Ada lived for another 17.5 hours just to prove that nurse wrong.
In one of her last moments with us, she opened her eyes, reached out to my hand on her hospital bed, and grabbed my hand. I got to look in her eyes and say, "Grandma, you know I love you." I will be forever grateful for that.
As much as it hurts right now, I can smile and say "Ma" and "Dad" are together again. While her lungs may have failed her, I'm confident her heart is beating louder than ever.
~Jason Dusett, Coordinating Evening Producer