As I mentioned in my previous post this has been a really tough week and a half. Thank you all for you support, encouragement and prayers…they have helped more than you will ever know!
On Saturday night, right before the clock struck midnight, My beloved Gram was ushered into the arms of Jesus. I am so thankful and can’t praise God enough for ending her suffering, but i’m not going to lie – it has been really hard on those of us who are left behind!
Gram had such a special place in my life. She was more than just a grandma, she was a best friend and confidant. There were so many things that i felt only Gram would understand about me. Growing up my brother, sister and I were her only grandkids and so both her and my papa (who passed away 3 1/2 years ago) poured all that they had into us! They both made such an effort to really be apart of our lives and although Gram worked i can’t remember a school or church function of ours that they did not attend.
One of my favorite childhood memories was the monthly friday night sleepovers. One friday night a month it would be just Papa, Gram and I. We would go out to dinner and sometimes even a little shopping trip :) I would get Oreo cookies and milk that night from Papa’s stash and then I would get to take a bath and put on Grams special Chanel bath powder. And yes the sleepover wouldn’t be complete with out breakfast in bed the next morning that included the best oatmeal i have ever had (probably due to the huge amounts of 1/2 and 1/2 and sugar but hey it’s what kids like). I got to eat while watching my saturday morning cartoons in Gram’s bed. Yes, she spoiled us rotten but we loved every minute of it!
When I was in elementary school Gram was diagnosed with emphysema. Although there wasn’t a lot of sudden change to her and i didn’t fully understand what was going on, I knew the road a head would not be easy. As they years went by Gram adopted a new trusty sidekick, her oxygen tank. It’s weird to think back to the times before that because it has been so long and for most of my adult/teenage life it was right by her side. For a while I was scared of it and I distinctly remember accidently turning it off when i was cleaning one time. I freaked out and the first thing that my Gram did was slowly drop to the floor while saying “i’m deflating..” we laughed until a little bit of pee came out (yay friends)! My Gram introduced me to Friends (the show) and my first soap “Day’s of our Lives” which since we weren’t allowed to watch them at home I would get to sneak them while i was at her house :)
Gram had the most amazing and strong spirit. She loved the Lord and even though as each year passed her health continued to grow weaker she never lost her fight or her smile. We always said that Gram would die first and so when Papa beat her to it boy was she mad! Don’t get me wrong, she loved life, but it sure took a toll on her. The years after Papa died were hard on everyone. My mom became her caretaker and although she lived at home we didn’t know how much longer that would last. We have had some close calls over these last few years but each time Gram would pull through with her spirit still strong and her smile intact. Through these hardships we all grew closer to her and learned to treasure every moment that we had with her because we never knew when it would be the last.
One of my favorite things about Gram was how much love she had to give. I never left the room/house/state without her telling me how much she loved me. I loved to watch her face light up when she would talk about what God was teaching her or Papa or her family.
It is really neat to see how God’s timing is always perfect. When Josh first got his orders to deploy and I decided to head out to California, I never guessed that it would be to spend my Gram’s last few months with her. Oh and boy did we have a good last few months. When Papa died there were a lot of things that I wished I would have done with him so with Gram I tried really hard to spend as much time as I could with her no matter what was going on or how I was feeling.
God gave us a special gift these last two months. He gave Gram a burst of only he knows what that allowed her to do so much more than she had been able to for a long time. I was able to build some wonderful memories that i will treasure for the rest of my life. We went to the mall together, when out to dinner and brunch, talked everyday on the phone, cried and laughed together, and had some of the most amazing conversations. It was so neat to be able to talk for a long time together without her gasping for breath. And she felt good. She wanted to do stuff and I was so glad I was here to take advantage of that.
Emphysema is one of the worst diseases I could ever wish upon a person. Gram loved life and she loved us, but she was ready to go meat her maker and be reunited with the love of her life (her lobster) and her precious son. Someone recently told me about a book they read talking about how it will be when we get to heaven. In the book, the author said that he thought we would have all of our loved ones running towards us pulling Jesus with them to introduce us to him….I can just imagine what it must have been like when Gram arrived. She has spend the last 16 years in bondage to this awful disease and she is finally free to breath, dance, laugh, and sing! And she has left us with the most wonderful memories and more importantly the promise of getting to see her again!
Yes, I miss her more than i ever though possible. I finish my runs and go to call her and realize that she is no longer here. She was my biggest cheerleader and I am so happy that I was able to share that part of my life with her. The selfish part of me wants her back, but then i remember how much she was suffering, how ever breath was a struggle and how much worse the disease could get and then i get down on my knees and thank God for taking her. The older I got and the more time we spent together, the more I started to realize how a like we were. She taught me so many valuable lessons, like how you have to vacuum in 5 different directions to make sure the carpet is really clean. She taught me the importance of family, generosity and spending time together..oh yeah and finding the perfect outfit!
Gram I love you so much and I will hold you in my heart till we meet up in heaven! Thank you for being an amazing example of a Godly woman, mother and gram. Oh and thank you for introducing me to Nordstroms :) I miss you everyday but I am so thankful that you are dancing free in heaven!
I love you Gram!!!