Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My Sweet Goodbye

I've been home exactly 1 week and three days.  Since being home I have taught/helped with Vacation Bible School at out church, taken the little girls to gymnastics and ballet, taken Christian to the orthodontist to have his new wiring put in along with having his tongue clipped, celebrated Christian's 9th birthday, gotten the boys to basketball camp and made it to our final Vacation Bible School "show".  That in and of itself is enough to make a person want to sit and sleep for days, but perhaps I should back up to one of the most memorable points in my life which has led to my current state of distress.

I received a call around May 17th from my Mother, who was staying in Kentucky to take care of her sick Mother, stating that my Grandma was in fact not getting better an if I wanted to see her I needed to come as soon as possible.  I do believe my heart skipped a beat.  This was my Grandma...my Nanny.  She is the one who used to talk to me about living a life with Christ by my side.  She taught me scriptures and which ones were most important to her.  She was there at the hospital the day that I was born, sleeping on the floor just so she could be there!  If nothing else, my Grandma was full of love and of the most giving people you would ever have the pleasure of knowing.  She had been to visit me fairly recently, but the mere thought of me not being there with her and expressing my love and gratitude nearly squeezed the breath out of me.  I wanted to make this happen.  After talking to my husband and trying...oh I tried so hard...to work out the logistics for me to be able to make a quick trip "home" it just wouldn't work.  Mike was already set to deploy in only 7 short days.  Which if we only had the two of us to worry about it would have been no trouble, BUT of course that isn't the case.  There were parties, ceremonies all atop of the fact that Mike HAD to pack and attend a number of meetings to prepare.  I felt so torn, but ultimately had to do what would be best for my family.  It was then that I poured my heart out to God and prayed, no begged for him to allow my Grandma to hold on.  I wanted to be with her so bad.  I wanted to feel her cheek against mine.  She's always had the softest cheeks.  After we said our goodbyes to Mike we finished off what felt like the most hectic end of the school year ever.  I got another call from my Momma and she said...she needed me.  Done.
I proceeded to call around and get everything taken care...pet care, home care, meals prepared, house cleaned, bags packed and all loaded up.  We were on the road Tuesday headed to be with family. 
"Please let us make it.  Please let us make it.  Please let us make it," was my silent prayer to God.
The thought of never seeing my Grandma's face again made my heart ache.

The entire 7.5 hour drive my mind was flooded with memories of the adventures the two of us shared.  I was such a lucky girl.  Even though the distance was great between our families, my Grandma always made it a priority to come and take extended vacations to be with us.  She taught me how to make donuts, how to learn scripture, and many worldly lessons that only a soft spoken Grandma could teach.  We would spend hours in the backyard playing badminton, kicking the ball, and going on long walks to the river.  It seemed her energy was endless.  In later years she fell in love with angels.  They became her passion.  She collected them, quilted them and at one point she designed her very own stained glass window based on a card that I had sent her.  We made so many trips back and forth to the business who was handling her work of art, just to make sure it would come out perfectly...and it did.  It was on those long drives we would make it a ritual to stop by Wendy's and pick up a Frosty.  Grandma loved her chocolate ice cream.  That, along with any sweet, was the way to her heart.   

 As we neared her home, I had to prepare myself for what I was about to see.  I had already thoroughly prepared my children to the fact that they "Blue Nanny", as they called her, was dying.  I didn't know what to expect or what impact it would have on me or them, but either way, I knew God had arranged for this trip and that both she and my Mother needed me.  We walked in to a warm room full of love.  My Aunt, Uncle, cousins and my MOM was there.  Oh, how I needed my Mom.  Tucked away in the side of the room lay my Grandma.  My first thought was, "where is she in this big bed?"  She had lost weight and was just a little thing.  I knew then, that everything I had been told was correct.

She had suffered from a stroke that left her unable to swallow and she was too weak to put in a feeding tube.  The Doctor's had discovered that her heart and kidneys were shutting down and there was a small tumor growing on one kidney.  That tumor was our blessing in disguise.  Because they were able to label that as what was causing her demise, we were able to get Hospice care and nurses to come and visit Grandma whenever we needed them.  Praise God.  But at this point there was nothing we could do other than make Grandma comfortable.

After I arrived, I took over for Mom.  I slept downstairs with my cousins (so there were always 2 of us "on shift"), I helped to make sure she was turned every so often (as to keep her from getting bed sores), and I administered any medications she needed.  That, along with spending time with her, reading the Bible, and loving her to pieces.  We (family and close friends) made sure she was never alone.  It was only 3 days after I arrived that Grandma seemed to come alive.  The Hospice nurse referred to it as a "surge". She was smiling at us, talking to us, and even reaching out to hold our hands and stroking our faces.  It was the most beautiful weekend and most precious gift God could have given to us.  I was so very thankful that her house was full to the brim with all 3 of her children, 5 of her grandchildren, and all 11 of her great grandchildren.  It made her so happy to hear all the kids playing.  She always did love that sound.  We sang her songs, read to her and even snuck her little bites/sips of ice cream, only after we were given permission.  Although the nurses warned us the surge of energy would indeed pass, I think we all held on to a little hope that Grandma was going to pull through this.

My Uncle and his family left on Sunday morning.  After that my Grandma began to sleep.  When she did sleep she became restless and all around uncomfortable.  By Tuesday the nurse said to start giving her the medication round the clock on a schedule.  That was so hard to do, because of all the "what if's".  However, we didn't want her in pain.  From that point on Grandma slowly got sleepier and sleepier.  Thursday, June 6th was hers, mine and my parents wedding anniversary.  (When we all said our vows, with many years in between us, we did indeed want to honor that day so it was special indeed.)  The nurse came to visit us on Thursday and informed us that it wouldn't be much longer.  Many tears were shed as we prepared ourselves for the inevitable.  Friday morning came and my Grandma took her last breath.  It was the most peaceful moment I had ever experienced and the most intimate moment the two of us had ever shared.  She was with me when I took my first breath and I was with her when she took her last.

Although you are never fully prepared for moments like these, even when you know they are coming, I can take comfort in knowing exactly where my Grandmother is and that I will indeed be with her again one day in paradise.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door,
I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
Revelations 3:20 

 November 5, 1924 - June 7, 2013

1 comment:

  1. That was beautiful Ashley. Took me right back to Oct 2012 I had a similar circumstance when mom called to tell me that hospice took granny off all meds and she may not make it through the night. I feared i couldn't drive fast enough to get there. We all got there to say goodbyes...cherished memories. Live this heartfelt post!



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