Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Death of My Beloved Grandmother

Not long after graduation, my grandmother passed away.  She never even told me she wasn’t feeling well.  Grandma lost her husband of 70 years 1 ½ years prior.  The family was amazed how well she coped with living life without him.  She stayed incredibly healthy until about a week before her death, when she started telling people at the retirement home that she was ready to die and it would be soon.  I wish she had told me.  She used to tell me that I was the grandchild that called her the most often.  Right after Grandpa’s death, I tried to call her every day.  As time went by, my calls were more like once or twice per week, as my life became busier with school and internship.  The week of her death, I tried calling twice, only to get her voice mail.  This is very unusual.  Come to find out, she wasn’t well.  
She went to the hospital with a bleeding ulcer.  Jeanne drove up to be with her.  It was expected she would be away from home for a while.  I didn’t know how serious this was until the night before her death when I got a call from my dad saying that Grandma was dying, and it looked like it would be soon.  At this time, Grandma’s kids all went to be with her.  Mom was the only one not already close buy.  She had to take a flight from Florida to Kansas, a 5 hour flight!  As it turned out, Grandma breathed her last breath within 30 minutes of my mother’s arrival at her bedside.  Mom was able to tell Grandma that we were all there with her, as they decided the grands and great grands shouldn’t see her in this state.  She passed away at 5 pm Kansas time.  She was pretty much comatose at the time, so they just waited for her heart to stop beating.  But it was as if she was waiting for my mom to get there, even though she appeared completely unaware.  
My grandma has been an incredible influence on my life!  I have depended on her so much over the last 3 years especially.  I also wonder if she waited for me to graduate, knowing I still needed her.  She was the one I called when I needed prayer.  She was always there to provide a listening ear when no one else was.  Grandma would tell me that I was the grandkid that was the most like her.  We look alike and even think alike.  Grandma was a faithful woman of God living a life of service.  
I’m so thankful that Hannah had the opportunity to get to know both Grandma and Grandpa while they were alive.  I was truly blessed to have such amazing grandparents!  I have so many wonderful memories of time spent with them on the farm and at the cabin.  They used to come visit us in Florida for Thanksgiving every year and sometimes Christmas.  They stopped traveling several years ago, including no more trips to the cabin, which I thought would be really hard for them.  
I can’t quite imagine my family without my grandparents.  Grandma, especially, was the knot that held everyone together.  With her gone, I imagine the family will not see much of each other anymore.  I feel like I’m losing so much more than just her.  To me, Grandma was not only just my grandma, but a friend, mother-figure, and prayer partner.  I would call her for advice constantly.  She always told me how proud she was of me.  She never ended a phone call without the words, “I love you.”  When we were kids, she would say, “I love you” and we would say, “And don’t you ever forget it.”  She would also say, “We’re in your pocket,” which meant that she was praying for us.  I believe she will always be in my pocket…from heaven.
I know how much Grandma missed having Grandpa by her side.  I know she couldn’t wait to see him again.  I can imagine them now reuniting in heaven with a great big HUG!  I can also imagine the many crowns they’ve earned from their service here on earth.  Grandpa was a Methodist minister, and Grandma served by his side.  Even after retirement, they continued lives in service of others.  Their lives were an example for others to follow.  They were married 70 years, and still held hands.  They were the cutest little old couple ever.  I can only dream of having a marriage like theirs one day!  
I used to spend summers with them in Kansas on the farm and Colorado at the cabin.  What amazing summer memories I have!  The farm and cabin, both, were a place where the grandkids could be free to explore and play.  I’m thankful that Hannah can still enjoy the cabin.  In 2009, I was able to take Hannah to Fredonia to visit the Grands for the first time, where she got to see the farm and the rest of Fredonia.  I’m so thankful we made this trip when we did, as the Grands moved a year later to the retirement home in Ottawa, Ks.  Hannah’s favorite part of Fredonia was visiting the farm cats.  I showed her the pond, where we used to fish with Grandpa.  I took her up on the mound to the playground on the top.  She got to pick vegetables from Grandpa’s garden, which he still kept up at 91 years old.  I got some priceless video footage of the Grands with Hannah during that trip.  This was right before Grandpa started getting sick.  
Saying good-bye to my grandparents is no easy task.  I guess I was fortunate to have had them as long as I did.  Grandpa passed at 95 and Grandma at 91.  The grands like to say that Grandpa left the cabin as his legacy and Grandma’s project was the “From Roots to Branches” book of our geneology.  Of course, their biggest legacy was the family they started…4 kids, 9 grandkids, and 14 great grandkids.  This doesn’t include spouses.  So, the grands live on in all of us.