Sunday, April 11, 2010

When It Comes Down To It

I have had this feeling in the past few weeks that my life, the reality of it, has been shaken.

My Grandmother's terminal cancer and passing is the reason why.

As my head continues to spin over the realization that she really is gone, I have also been dwelling on so many things that I witnessed and heard about during the last days of her life...and even now after.

I mentioned briefly in a paragraph on my old blog about the last minutes of her life...but I have been feeling compelled in my gut to say more, to share more, because it doesn't seem like enough to just mention it in passing.

And so I want to share it more in depth:

My Grandma's 3 daughters were present with her when she passed. They were with her in her room when she died, and their lives have been forever changed because of it. They shared this story numerous times last weekend. They shared it during the reviewal service, at the lunch after the funeral, sitting on Grandma's porch last Sunday was so frequently shared, and even those of us who had already heard it were on the edge of our seats waiting to hear it again and again and again.

In this past week I have thought of those last moments they shared with my Grandma so many times. I will be in the middle of something and all of the sudden I will stop and think about it again.

Here is their story:

Throughout the evening on Saturday, March 27th Grandma appeared to be restless, perhaps even a bit agitated. She was one who often loved attention from her children and grandchildren. She loved us being by her side, talking with her, singing to her, reading her scriptures...but on this evening she just wanted to be alone. She had a restless night sleep. She was awake much of the night - sometimes talking, sometimes quiet, eyes sometimes closed, often open...

She was adamant the night before that someone would wake her when it was morning. She did not want to miss the morning.

She also the night before appeared to be carrying on a conversation with her sister Geraldine who passed away from breast cancer a few years ago. What my Mom heard from my Grandma was this: (paraphrased) "I'm pretty tired tonight. Okay. I'll see you in the morning."

Well, as the morning did come on March 29, 2010 my Grandmother was still with us. A hospice nurse had come by the house to check on Grandma. A frown was appearing on Grandma's forehead and her daughters were concerned that Grandma was experiencing some pain and discomfort. They stepped out of the room just briefly and let the hospice nurse check on her. Within a few seconds the nurse came out of the bedroom and said to the daughters "You have got to see the smile on her face! She is seeing something beautiful!"

The three daughters rushed in to Grandma's room. The way that they have described that smile in the retelling of this story is "radiant." Now my Grandma was a joyful person. Always an optimistic spirit. She was always smiling and laughing....but this was different. This grin was so wide it stretched across her entire face.

Grandma's eyes were wide open and she was looking up towards the top corner of the room.

With that radiant glow on her face Grandma began to make sounds almost as if she was watching a fireworks show on the 4th of July. "Ahhh..." "Ohhh..." She was amazed. Astounded by whatever it was that she was encountering.

My Aunt Barb asked her "Mom, can you see Grandpa?" (My grandpa passed away 26 years ago) "Yes," was her reply.

They asked her "Can you see your sisters?" (2 of her sisters had passed before her) "Yes," she replied again.

"Do you see your Mom and Dad?" She said, "Yes. Everybody."

The entire time her smile never left her face.

She then seemed to refocus back in to that bedroom. She looked at each one of her daughters straight in the eyes and held each one of their gazes for a long time.

Within 10 minutes from that time she took her last breath, and she passed away.

Now that does make a pretty incredible story doesn't it? It is a pretty amazing telling of the last moments of my Grandma's life.

But to me it has been so much more than that...

Now my Grandma has always been a woman of incredible faith. Every person that knew her was aware of how important it was to her. Everything she did, every decision she made, every obstacle she was always tied in to what she believed to be true.

She had no fear in her last 6 weeks of dying. She often told my Mom that she had no fear at all because she knew exactly where she was going after she passed away. She faced her death with bravery, with dignity, and with her head held high. At one point she even said "I didn't know dying could be so much fun!"

She also at one point in the past six weeks said this to my Uncle Eldon:

“Think about it. I am 88 years old. Going on 89. I’ve never been sick. The last time I was in the hospital was 50 years ago to have a baby. I had a very good marriage to a wonderful man. If I could have picked our six kids, and their spouses, and then the children from those marriages I would not have changed one person. God gave me that beautiful farm to live on for most of my life, and I’ve been able to enjoy it until now. All my affairs are in order. Now I know that I’m leaving very soon and I know for sure where I’m going. I have absolutely no pain and I have all this time to say my goodbyes. What more could I ask for?”

She also asked that the following verse be in her obituary:

“Surely goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

My Grandma put her faith in God her entire life. In the last minutes of her life her three daughters can clearly tell you that her faith in Jesus as her Savior did not disappoint her.

I have been so challenged by this story these past couple of weeks. Not that this is anything too new because my Grandma has always challenged me. She always pushed us to do more, to be more, to try more...all while loving us just as we were.

But I guess sometimes it's easy to dwell on the here and the now. What's for dinner tonight, what hairstyle should I try next, how many friends do I have on Facebook, what is Ethan putting in his mouth now???

It's easy to not see the big picture, to not think about where all of this leads and what all of this means.

Some day we will all be in that place where my Grandma was two weeks ago today. We are all going to see our last day. We are all going to take our last breath.

And so it has challenged me on the days between now and then to really think about how I'm living mine. It has challenged me to think about the mother that I am to my sons (and soon my daughter!). What are we raising them to believe? Will they have this same peace, this same assurance that my Grandma did when it is their time to leave this Earth? Will I?

It has made me focus on the important things, and try to stop fretting about the little ones.

She has left some mighty big shoes to fill - and I think that all of us in the family are swimming in them right now.

We miss you.


  1. goosebumps. i love it beth. it challenges me too. love you!

  2. I know you had told me the story before, but as I read it hear, I have tears in my eyes. Thank you for sharing this.

  3. Oh, the tears rolled! Beautiful, Beth! Just beautiful!!!!!


Share a little love would ya? I'd love to hear what you have to say!


Related Posts with Thumbnails