Last Monday, I stood with members of my family and held my grandmas hand as she took her last breath and passed on to a much much better place.
My facebook page and cell phone quickly filled with messages of condolence and sorrow, and most people who ran into me over the past week have expressed their apologies at my loss. (thank you all so much)
My Grandma was an amazing woman and lived a long amazing life. She turned 97 on March 25 of this year. She and my Grandfather had 7 children, including my dad , his brother and 5 sisters. They are an impossible group of people- so diverse and so tough and such an impact on my life. My Aunt took my grandma in a few years ago after the thief called dementia was discovered. Grandma had a suite at my aunts house- better than at most apartments or hotels. She had her cat Buddy and all of things that she needed to feel like it was home. I could never express how grateful I have always been to this youngest daughter - taking in her mother and caring for her the way she did. Her siblings took on the burden of filling in so she could go places, and her husband has been amazing just supporting it all.
This is what family is supposed to look like all the time.
Generous with their time and resources. Loving even when you do not deserve it. Helpful when you don't ask for it, and supportive when you struggle. And when you come to a time in your life when you cannot possibly do it on your own, they will take you in and treasure you until the very end.
( side note-When I spend time reflecting on my Grandmother and her life and the people she touched, it makes me think of my church family and how much time we really spend looking out for one another on this earth. After all, isn't this for the most part our eternal family? One would like to think so . Then why don't we act like it? Our church family should be the ones we can depend on no matter what. Yet I find when I am alone and hurting, they are the last people I want to share with because I do not want their judgement. How unlike the teaching of Jesus! )
As I sat in the church that day during the funeral, we were all given the opportunity to speak- to say something about our Grandmother, mother and friend. My mother gave a lovely tribute to her as her mother in law, and spoke for the rest of the in-laws about her never ending grace, love and hope. I decided to go ahead and read what I had written, and started up the stairs.
"At some point last weekend some of us were talking about the things Grandma gave us. It was determined our collective arthritis could be contributed to her. For me personally it was the love of plants, growing things and creating garden spaces for my family and others to enjoy. These past few days I've had the time to reflect on some of the other things Grandma has given us. I realized then just how much she reflected the life and love of Christ.
In Matthew 25:31-40 it says:
"When the Son of Man comes in his Glory and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. ALL nations will be gathered before him and he will separate the people from one another as a Shepard separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep to his right and the goats to his left.
Then the King will say to those who are on his right "Come you who are blessed by my father; take your inheritance the kingdom, prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."
Then the Righteous will answer him "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in? Or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go visit you?"
The King will reply "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
These are the things I witnessed my Grandmother do for me, my family and all of you. For me she will always be a shining example of Jesus Christ and I am so Thankful she is at his table now, sitting to the right."
As I walked away I was really glad I didn't follow my 8 year old niece, who expressed her love for grandma and brought the house down. She also announced she is officially #72 in
the family lineup . She is such a blessing.
I think I have a shocking response to those who are not believers when they tell me how sorry they are about my grandmother, because I am not sorry at all. I watched her lose her memory over the past few years. I watched her lay in her bed unwilling to move over the last few months, just passing time waiting for Jesus to take her home. My Grandmother is not alone, and she is full of memories. She has a new body that will not fail her. She has a new robe and a new life that will last forever and ever. She has my grandpa and my cousins, my aunt and my grandchild all to take care of in her perfect Grandma style. My sadness is a personal and selfish one. My happiness and peace comes from knowing she is with Jesus, right where she wanted to be.
I know she loves me, as I love her.
See you soon Grandma, for this earth is quick to pass and heaven is eternal and it awaits us all if we choose it.