Thursday, October 10, 2013

She found heaven

Well, we all thought it would never happen. Grandma Irene passed away on Monday morning about 6:30. She has been fighting like a tiger for the past few years. Papa passed away in October 2011 and Aunt Becky last December, and to me, it has seemed like since she has not had to take care of them
her body has just let out a huge sigh and faded. Perhaps she was experiencing some sort of prolonged adrenaline rush that was giving her the strength she needed to do what she could for them, because since then she has just been steadily declining. Mom has had the privilege and ability to stay with her in her home for about the last six months and care for her. This was a huge blessing, because putting her in a home was the very last thing she wanted to do. In fact, when she was placed on hospice care a couple of months ago, she didn't even want a hospital bed brought in. So, for the last six weeks, she has been bed ridden in her own bed. She seemed mostly comfortable.

This has been a bittersweet time. At times, we didn't think she would make it through the summer to celebrate her 85th birthday. When she did, there were moments when we wondered if she would make it through the day or the night, but somehow she just kept on kicking. I think at times she wondered if she was ever going to go "home." She talked about the people that she looked forward to meeting again. "Bucky." Her sister, Becky. Papa. Deeda. Fowie. Mother. But, mostly, she couldn't wait to meet her Daddy again. 80 years she has missed him and loved him and wanted to see him. She was only 5 when he died of tuberculosis. Oh, how she looked forward to seeing him, and how I wish I could have been there for that moment and too see her kiss her sweetheart again.


Once, we asked her if she had seen anyone. She said she had seen a cousin, Jewel, and that she was "wearing a black dress." That was a little scary, because usually you don't hear about angels wearing black. Another time, she said people were in her room saying bad words and that she wanted them to leave because she didn't want that language around her. Both of these things were interesting and curious. Perhaps, Satan never stops trying to discourage us, no matter how incapacitated we are.

I will miss Grandma so much. I think it is still pretty raw and unreal to me. I haven't cried much because it has been really surreal to me. Watching the sweet men from the mortuary come on Tuesday morning and wrap her gently in a clean, white sheet and roll her away was like the scene from a TV show, or a dream. How can she be gone? She has been there for every important moment from birthdays, to graduations, missions, and karate promotions. She has given love, food, time, money, hugs, and kisses I can not even count.  Even recently she told me that she felt like we were more than grandchildren. She has been there for everything. I can't imagine what the holidays will be like without her this year.

I will not be able to watch an episode of the Golden Girls without thinking of her, or look at a pretty quilt or a hose reel (family joke) without thinking of her, bunnies will always bring her face to my mind, she will always be there when I hear "How Great Thou Art," and she will be telling me how much she enjoyed hearing her mother sing it. I won't be able to go through a single day of my life without thinking, "I need to call Grandma and tell her . . . "

I am looking forward to bringing her sewing machine to my house. I will look at it and remember her. I will do my best to remember her instructions on how to thread the needle and load the bobbin and use it. I have used it a few times, but she was always there to help  me. Even though she struggled to do these things, I had better vision and hand eye coordination, but she was there to tell me what to do. I hope I can figure it out without her there to guide me. I want to be able to use that machine and teach my children how to sew and let them know where the machine came from, and how I learned what little bit I know.

I am so happy and sad, bitterly sad, at the same time. I am so happy that she is finally home, and yet sadder than can be because I will never be able to call her up again and tell her how much I love her, or walk into her home and feel the comfort that washes over me as I smell it. She has her own special scent. Her home has always had that smell. Grandma's smell. I will miss it. I will miss everything about her, but I am so grateful to know that we will be together again, and though it seems so far away, we will have eternity to catch up on all the things we miss from now til then.

"Perhaps they are not stars in the sky,
but rather openings where our loved ones shine down
to let us know they are happy."
- Eskimo proverb

The Watcher
by Margaret Widdemer

She always leaned to watch for us
Anxious if we were late,
In winter by the window,
In summer by the gate.

                 And though we mocked her tenderly
                Who had such foolish care,
                The long way home would seem more safe,
                Because she waited there.

Her thoughts were all so full of us,
She never could forget,
And so I think that where she is
She must be watching yet.

                Waiting 'til we come home to her
                Anxious if we are late,
                Watching from heaven's window,
                Waiting at heaven's gate.
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