Monday, January 26, 2015

It has been a long time since I felt like blogging.  Life has been busy, sad, complicated, joyous, and, occasionally, quiet.

It has been just over 3 months since we laid one of the greatest ladies I have ever known to rest.  I think of her every day and for some reason, this weekend was quite hard and I missed her terribly.

We celebrated her 100th birthday last June.  She was in amazing health and doing so well.  She continued to live on her own, although no longer driving or cooking.  She was a social butterfly and enjoyed her quilting, crafting, and watching the Hallmark Channel.  She still had her eyesight, her hearing, and a wonderful, endearing sense of humor.

Since we had moved her into a new apartment, which had been about 1 1/2 years last summer, hubby, daughter, and grandgirls, and I had made a point of going in every other Saturday night to visit and enjoy broasted chicken with all the fixin's.  We had only missed a couple of Saturday nights due to illness, vacation, or the occasional field work.  We had gone in the weekend before we were set to leave on vacation.  She seemed tired and complained a bit to my sister-in-law that her side hurt, but no one seemed to concerned.

While we were on vacation, my mother-in-law called with the news that they thought Grandma had diverticulitis and that she had to go on a bland diet.  No more fried chicken for awhile.  We were a bit concerned, but given her health history and her age, we weren't overly worried.

We got home from vacation late on Friday (while we were gone, our son was sworn in to the DEP for the USMC!--another emotional event!).  On Monday, I heard from my mother-in-law that she was taking Grandma back to the doctor, the pain was intense, and if they didn't put her in the hospital, she would take her home to care for her because she didn't think she was taking her medication properly or eating right.  Thankfully, they put her in for observation (which, quite frankly, should have been done the prior week) and by evening we discovered that she had a ruptured appendix!  They rushed her to the big city for immediate surgery.

She looked good the next day, but then things took a turn and despite a few up days, never really returned to her former self.  She became depressed.  After two weeks in the hospital we moved her to a nursing home.  We were able to bring all the babies up to visit and that always lightened her mood.  She loved to just hold the littlest ones and watch the older girls.

She asked specifically for us the Saturday before everything changed dramatically.  My husband was in the field (it was harvest) and so my daughter and I got the girls all together and went up.  I could tell her mood was different.  She wasn't very chatty and didn't ask too many questions.  We stayed for as long as our little ones held out and then headed home.  I am so thankful we changed our plans and went up.  The following Tuesday morning (after a bad Monday), she suffered what we believe to be a stroke.  She opened her eyes once to make eye contact with my mother-in-law (her only living child) and then we had no more response from her.

The family came in and surrounded her for the day.  This was a woman who loved her family beyond words.  She was at her proudest when she was telling people about her great-great-grandchildren (7 of them!). It meant so much for us to be together around her, sharing stories, loving her like she had loved us all for so long.

She lived through another day.  As I left her on Wednesday afternoon a song by Wynonna was running through my mind and I left Grandma with these words, "I love you, Grandma, and I'll see you later, "If not here, then somewhere up above"." I kissed her on the forehead and left.  My sister-in-law was with her as she breathed her last later on that night.  There was peace.

She had a quiet faith, but we know she was secure in it.  We are so thankful for that!  She had worried about facing another winter and now she didn't have to.  She had seen 100 winters, more than many of us can even hope for.  Winters where they huddled together around a wood stove to keep warm, where there was frost on their ceiling and snow piled higher than their horses and wagons.  Winter often meant harshness and solitude.  Now, she is never alone and is in perfect peace.

She accepted me into her family, an acceptance she didn't have to give.  She could have been judgmental and accusing, but she was anything but.  And, not just with me, but with any of us who sinned, who made mistakes or had poor judgment.  She was never accusatory or harsh.  She loved unconditionally!  Regardless of how hopeless situations seemed, she kept a steady head and helped us all to press on.  She gave myself and our family a legacy of love.  I can only hope that we can go on and follow her lead, loving, laughing, living!

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