The rollercoaster ride started in January with the prognosis that the chemotherapy wasn’t working and she had 1-6 months. There were no solutions other than some that were natural based but had high success. A trial came up and she was accepted but the ride only got more chaotic. March was filled with switchbacks, rises, falls, ups and downs.
I sat on the edge of my seat here in Pennsylvania, 1700 miles away, calling daily and trying to decide to go back to CO or wait. She was in and out of the hospital twice until she came home. Once home things only seemed to get worse in what was literally overnight. We got a flight on the books and were ready to hop on a flight any moment. We got to Monday the second of April and she had a great day. Tuesday she slept most of the morning but we were optimistic our flight was the next day.
Tuesday afternoon I saw the neighbors outdoors so I stepped out to tell them we would be out of town and the circumstances. It was an overcast day but in that conversation the clouds parted with bright sunshine and eventually closed just before I went back inside. I came back in to find two missed calls on my phone from my grandparents home number. I knew the moment I saw it that she was gone.
I missed her by one day. I wanted nothing more than to make it in time to sit by her side and hold her hand just one more time. That hurt and shattered my heart but there was a level of relief in knowing she was free from the cancer she had been fighting for so many years.
Her cancer journey started with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, it went into remission and then returned. Upon its second return she underwent chemo and radiation and it returned to remission. Last year she was diagnosed with Leukemia, a direct result of her last treatment of chemo and radiation. She under went chemotherapy until she got the news in January that it wasn’t helping any longer. Her cancer was a root of fear and anxiety for her, even while it was in the remission periods, she would fear of its return.
As of the afternoon of April 4, 2017, she’s free of the pain, the fear and the anxiety. She’s healthy and whole once again dancing in God’s grace. Those things are something I can rejoice and find peace in even though I miss her here so very much.
My Grandma Rosemary was born July 8, 1941 to Faye Hamilton and Raymond Hamilton in a little town called Huron, Kansas. She was raised by her mother, Faye, and the man she always called her father, Francis “Pete” Wingate Pinder. Her biological father, Raymond, passed away when she was around the age of two and Pete entered her life around four. She spoke of both men as her fathers but Pete was always the man she called her dad.
She graduated from Lawrence High School in 1959. After college she married her first husband and had two children: my mother, Karen and a son. They later divorced and she worked many years at Presbyterian Manor in Lawrence and loved helping the residents there.
She reconnected with long-time childhood friend, John, whom she went to school with since Kindergarten. They began to date and then she moved to Colorado in 1991 and went back to school and received her degree in Medical Assisting in 1993. May 10, 1996 she married her beloved husband, John, whom she was married to for just a month shy of 21 years.
My childhood was filled with memories of her. We spent most Christmases in Colorado either at their home or at the cabin in Winter Park. I have memories sprinkled throughout my years growing up of them surprising us with visits to Kansas. They would usually travel in late and we would be pleasantly surprised to see them around the dining room corner the next morning. Once my parents told us that we needed to help my job with my dad at the Airport – we naturally believed them – and all the while it was my grandma and grandpa coming in for a visit.
There was such a sense of “home” going to her house. The familiar smell, the bunk room stacked with craft items that we would stay in as kids. Spring Breaks and Summers were regularly filled with visits to see grandma. I usually got an extra week or two after the rest of the family left to be in Colorado. Those weeks were my favorite. I loved having her to myself. She always took my clothes shopping at Mervins, insisted she get me a Berry smoothie from Costco; and she took me to JoAnn’s for craft projects and bolts of fabric. Some days I would spend afternoons in the doctors offices she worked in because she loved showing me around the office. As I got older she always had me drive her car when we ran errands.
She was a large piece of my life and a big part of all of the big moments – she was there in all of them. I loved that she was a part of them and she loved being in them just the same. She always called me “her girl” and talked about how lucky they all were that my heart surgery turned out okay.
She taught me how to sew on a machine and started me scrap-booking. When I was a child, about 8, she sent in a squirrel scrap-booking page and it got published in a magazine. She was so proud. She took me to scrap-booking conventions and crops. Scrap-booking was her staple until her best friend, Pat, whom she always called her sister passed away a few years ago. She never could bring herself to scrap-book like she did anymore.
She continued to take photos though and photos she took. Goodness me, she loved photos of everything. My granddad called her Ansel, like Ansel Adams, because she was always clicking away and usually forgetting to push the button all the way down causing us to all awkwardly stand there for longer than planned. I just wish we would have had even more of her in front of the camera.
She fell in love with quilting a few years ago. She made a quilt for each of my children and a wall-hanging too. We have table runners and a variety of other things, too. She loved to create and it always made her feel good. She would give them as gifts or donations.
Grandma Rosemary loved traveling, as well. She went on her first trip when my mom was 18 years old and won a trip to Hawaii. My mom invited her to go and it sounds like they had a lovely time together. After she married my grandpa John they traveled all over together: Hawaii, Alaska, California, New York, Kentucky, Branson, the Grand Canyon, South Dakota, and my other places I’m unable to recall at the moment. She loved to share all the photos and the stories behind them once they came back home.
Once we had children, the great grandchildren were the highlight of her life. She shared them with everyone and made sure they knew how special they were to her. It was always obvious she thought of them often and all the times she got together she truly cherished.
She wasn’t just my grandma, she became a dear friend. Through my childhood she was a neutral safe place when the rest of those around me seemed shaky. As adults, we shared things with each other that we didn’t always share with others like thoughts and opinions. We had a special bond that I’ll always cherish so much.
Until we meet again, my dearest grandma Rosemary, I’ll cherish and cling tight to all of our sweet memories. I love you so very much.