The last few weeks have been quite a blur for me. I got a phone call two weeks ago to the day that my Granny was in the hospital, not expected to make it through the night. Needless to say, I threw stuff in a bag, hopped in my car and made the 2.5 hr drive to Mt. Pleasant, Texas. That drive seemed to take forever, and the visit this time around was anything but pleasant.
Jason (my big bro) and I exited and went directly to Titus County Regional Medical Center, a route that was never required before. I’m used to taking the early exit and driving through the country back roads to get to Granny and Papa’s farm, but in the recent couple of years, that drive has changed as Granny and Papa moved into the nursing home/assisted living, and now that mom and dad have a lake house, the drive has changed even more (not that I’m complaining they have a lake house…I’ll take that new drive gladly!).
I anxiously made my way up to the 5th floor, and was comforted by the sweet east texas hospital staff as I frantically tried to find her room! As I opened the door, the reality of Granny’s situation hit me like a ton of bricks. I tried to hold it together, always feeling a need to be the strong one in the family, but for that brief moment, I did not hold anything together. Really grateful that my dad was there to be a shoulder to cry on as everyone else was outside the room, I shed my tears and a silent weep, but quickly bucked up to be strong for Granny and mom.
I could barely take it all in as I sat by her side, holding her hand, singing her favorite hymns. This woman was the matriarch of our family, strong and solid, mind as sharp as a tac, grounded in the Lord…and here she was, lying in that hospital bed, weak, wounded, scared, helpless at the mercy of the Lord and her doctors. She had a grip on my hand like a little kid…the kind that is so tight your hand might go numb. The next two days were mostly full of waiting and watching…waiting on Dr.’s, waiting on decisions, watching her breathe, watching her pain level, watching the clock, waiting on hospital shifts, waiting on family, and waiting on more morphine. In the midst of the waiting and watching, there was eating and a little bit of sleeping…encouragement, praying, and some precious time for ministry with my family.
We made the decision to keep Granny comfortable, and pain free as the pneumonia and blood clot in her lung took over…we moved her to hospice, took off that awful breathing machine mask, and just let her be at peace. No more meds, no more pain…just resting. Later, at the house I found a journal of poems she wrote and one of them basically said “When i can’t serve my fellow man or lift a helping hand…don’t prod and poke me with needles, or keep me alive with tubes. just let me go and be with the Lord, for I don’t have anymore work to do.” It gave me peace, knowing we made the right decision on her behalf.
I was flooded with emails and thoughts from friends and professors as I watched this most precious woman slip away into the presence of her Lord and Savior. Thoughts of hope, and the promise of our future when we are in Christ Jesus overwhelmed my mind. In the mean time, I got word that my best friend…we call each other sisters because we’re that close…had gone into labor! It was the strangest dichotomy … watching a life slip away, and waiting for word that another has entered into this world successfully! Thoughts crowded my mind of watching a life fight both old and young, and promises of hope that one day all things will be made right. It was a heavy day.
The night before Granny went home to be with Jesus, mom and I were on hospital duty, taking care of her, getting her situated, rubbing her forehead, holding her hand, and having some serious discussions of our own about life. It was a precious moment with my mom…although not the kind of precious moment you long to create.
As I watched her sitting next to the bed, calming her mom, I realized…that is me when I’m nearly 60!!! The same way that she was taking care of Granny, is the same way I was taking care of her after her surgery in October. Then I looked at Granny, and saw the progression continue. The three of us; me, mom and Granny, are so alike. it’s kind of weird. I have to admit, seeing a picture of myself when I’m 60 and 90 would normally be scary, but if I get to be like my mom and sweet grandmother, I am perfectly content with that!
I sat there, contemplating Granny’s life…90 yrs old, married for nearly 71 years…(yes you read that right), hard worker, sunday school teacher for 50 years, greatest granny ever, farmer, fisherman, seamstress, comedian, loyal, loving, humble, auto mechanic, carpenter…you name it, she did it and in all that she did she exuded christian character. I can’t fathom the things she saw in her life…born at the end of WWI, living through WWII, the Great Depression…riding to school on a horse, then a buggy, then seeing a car? It’s crazy the kinds of things she experienced! I asked her back in october, “Granny, who was the best President, and the worst since you’ve been alive?”
She said “Well, I suppose JFK was the best…and Bill Clinton was definitely the worst!!! He just didn’t do anyone any good with that mess.” This woman had seen it all!!! She loved the Lord with all her being, and everyone knew it well. Proverbs 31:10-31 describes her PERFECTLY!
Friday morning, I woke up, took my time getting ready, and got in the car to go see Granny when I received the phone call from mom. She had just taken her last breath. I was in shock. I knew it was coming, but didn’t expect it to come so quickly…only 3 days had I been there. I got there, with Jason, and mom and I had our weepy embrace. It’s like…when your a girl and it’s your mom…you just know. I dunno, maybe it’s just me and my mom, but I just knew in that moment what she was feeling….or we were just feeling similar emotions. I can’t imagine losing my mom. Ahh…can’t even go there, so I won’t!
Mom proceeded to tell me that she was able to drink a cup of coffee (that was her thing), and had some blue bell ice cream right before she passed away. After the weeping was over, I couldn’t help but smile thinking about it. I mean, if you have to go…why not go after eating ice cream!? It was one of her favorite things! I was reminded of the verse (somewhere! can’t think of the reference right now) where it says “he satisfies your years with good things”. God was faithful in Granny’s life…He satisfied her years with WONDERFUL things. He blessed her life deeply, and took her home peacefully! I mean, hey…coffee, morphine, and blue bell…sounds good to me! I’m not making light of it…but God’s mercy and peace were upon her for sure!
Just like the change of locations on my drive to Mt. Pleasant through the years, there is a change of experience. No more early morning breakfast cooking with Granny in the kitchen, or walking to the pond to go fishing….no more late night stories in the dining room over black coffee (yuk), or laughing over stories and a game of dominos. Those are now precious memories that I hold dear! I can only hold on to the life lessons she taught me in the midst of all those things, and I will do everything in my power to make sure that I do! I can also make every effort to live my life in the same manor…and give those same life lessons, and precious memories to others…like my best friend Laura’s little baby girl Callie Elizabeth! Since I’m practically her Aunt, I have lots of responsibility to make her cool and teach her everything she needs to know about life! It’s short and priceless…make it count!