Saturday, November 08, 2008
I've "been away."
I've said it a lot recently, but I'll say it again: I haven't been blogging very regularly lately. I'm trying to better discern a healthy mix of sharing online and sharing with people face to face. But another reason I've not blogged much this past week or so is because my grandma died on October 30th. She died peacefully in her sleep at the nursing home where she had lived for the past few years. Grandma was eight days away from turning ninety-five years old. She lived a good, long, love-filled life for which I am extremely grateful, and yet I still am sad and grieve the loss.
It's an odd thing; grief. I know that Grandma is finally at rest, and I don't wish she were still alive, but I still grieve. When I moved to Seminary, I put some pictures of family members up on my refrigerator. I put two of her up. One picture was taken more than twenty years ago because Gram has her arms around YS and me. The other picture was taken just about two years ago, and shows Gram holding Howard when he was a little baby. I love those pictures because Grandma has big smiles on her face. She really loved us kids. Even when she couldn't remember exactly how we all were related, she knew that she loved us. I am also very fortunate because even though Grandma was VERY forgetful, she was still herself, even to the end. She had a lot of one line funny remarks, and was always quick with a smile. She was so special and I loved her so much.
I was reminiscing about Grandma the other day because I was thinking about when I was a kid, how Gram and I would sometimes share a birthday celebration. Her birthday was November 7th, and mine was the 10th. We would have a family dinner and open presents and have cake. And even though Grandma had almost seventy years on me, she always let me feel extra special on my birthday. But, that's who she was.
Grandma lived about a block away from me growing up. We would go out our front door and run through the church yard and be at her house. Visits to Grandma's house were normal things. Grandma ran a nursing home in the town where I lived until the mid or late sixties. Her parents had started it, and she ran it when they got too old. But, the state came in and said they needed to have an elevator and various other things that a nursing home in a town of 400 people couldn't afford, especially since my grandma and her family didn't charge people what they couldn't pay. So, the nursing home closed down after they found places for all the residents to go. Well, all the residents except for one: Donna.
I don't know what was wrong with Donna. I just remember that Grandma took her to live in her house. Donna was bed ridden and probably weighed all of seventy-five pounds. She had dark brown hair, couldn't talk, or do much of anything. She would open her mouth and go, "AHHHH AHHHH AHHH." Not in pain, but as her way of communicating. Donna's bed was in the living room (it had rails on it and couldn't fit into the other rooms, I think). When Grandma got a cat, it would get up there and lay in the bends of Donna's legs. She seemed to like it. Donna's sisters would come visit sometimes, and they were so grateful that my seventy-something year old Grandma was able to take care of her. Thankfully, back then, the doctor still made housecalls and would come to see Donna. I think that's a part of what made her living with Grandma possible.
Oh, another interesting thing to note...Grandma had two children: My dad, and my aunt Joyce. Joyce was born extremely mentally challenged. I don't think she could talk either. She could walk though, with help. I remember Grandma going in to her room and helping her walk out to play "cards" with us little ones. So, Grandma took care of Donna and Joyce (who we pronounced Joycee) at the same time, until Joyce died of a heart attack when I was four years old.
Eventually, Grandma had to ask Donna's sisters to find a new place for Donna, because Gram was getting too old to take care of someone so intensively. Donna moved away then, and I don't know what happened to her. She probably has died by now. She wasn't that old when Grandma had her, but that was still almost twenty years ago.
Grandma was a beautiful and caring woman. She gave selflessly and sacrificially to those she loved. Despite having lived through wars and rumors of wars, the Great Depression, the death of husband, and BOTH her children, a grandchild who died at birth, and countless other events, she didn't get cynical. She laughed, she joked, and she poked gentle fun. She loved her family (which was small, considering she had been an only child), and she was willing to try new things, even as she got older and older. My grandma was very "go with the flow," and yet she still managed to get things done. She was a really special lady and I am grateful for the many, MANY warm memories I have of her.
In honor and memory, I give you one of my refrigerator pictures (considering if I were to meet you on the street, you probably wouldn't know me from this picture). I give God thanks for her life, and entrust her to the tender compassion and care of Jesus Christ, who has conquered death and who has promised to be with us always, even unto the end of the age. Thanks be to God!