“Hospice says she has 24-36 hours. You need to get back.” That’s all the text said and my plans for the next 24 hours and the next week and a half was changed dramatically.
A and I booked a plane ticket, packed and Ryan took us to the airport that night. I was nervous about A flying since she hadn’t before but it made more sense than me driving a 9 hour drive with her.
A did fantastic. She stayed calm and on my lap for the duration of the flight. We snacked and read books. Before we knew it we landed. My dad picked us up from the airport and off we went. He took my by the home my grandma was in because no one was sure she would make it through the night. I held her hand and watched her chest rise and fall. I listened to my dad speak to her and I watched the tears well in his eyes.
Here we stood knowing the last days of the one woman my dad has loved every second of his life, his biggest fan – his grandma – were upon us.
I knew when he text me that the end was near I couldn’t go back. Aside from losing one of us kids, I knew this would be the biggest loss of his life time. There wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for Memaw.
She made it through the night and I knew she was waiting on her oldest, Curt. He wouldn’t be in for another day and I knew she would hold on. I thought long and hard about how I would want things as a mother. Knowing he was the one that made her a mother, I knew she was waiting. I knew I would wait.
And wait she did.
A and I spent our days by her side in that tiny room. The first full day A wasn’t sure of her then by late afternoon she plunged for her. She decided to give grandma a kiss. We captured it. Luckily.
Not very many people get to meet their great-great grandparents. Luckily for A she got to and we have photos of her with grandma before all of this. And now we have this one. The youngest and the oldest of our family. The sweetest photo that nearly wrecks me every time I see it.
Curt came in Thursday and he held her hand for hours. Old stories were passed around and laughs were shared. Her eye lashes would flutter, she was enjoying the reminiscing of her love and her life. I hadn’t seen her move in the days I had been there but Curt went to leave and her lifeless body tried to sit from the table. My dad asked if she wanted us to stay, she squeezed his hand so we all did. He sat and he wept by her side. Praying for her. Holding her hand. We assured her it would be okay to go Home. Curt told her that she would have her red hair again and it would be beautiful. He told her she would never need a perm because it would always be perfect and beautiful. He told her she could eat all the gizzards and biscuits and gravy she could ever want; and that she would have to get used to her pretty new wings.
She made it through another night. The next day most all of the family was there in that tiny room and she wasn’t responding like she was before. Then before we knew it, Saturday was upon us. Saturday, May 3rd. We rose early and visited her room. It was full and crowded with family. Hospice had put her on oxygen before I came into town which was an odd thing for hospice to do, but they did. So the discussion had to come up – to leave it on or take it off. Her three children discussed the options. I discussed that the oxygen was simply telling her brain to make her heartbeat keeping her suffering last longer but from their eyes they worried they would be ending her life by doing it. It wasn’t the case but nevertheless it was a tough decision and they decided to keep it on her. So that’s what we did.
We went to dinner that evening and came back. A and I left early, poor girl was exhausted and I made the best call for us. I got ready for bed and text my dad telling him how my heart was broken for her kids to make such tough decisions but my heart broke for her to continue suffering. I told him her body was there but lifeless, her soul was gone. I clicked send.
Moments later at 11:30pm I received “she’s gone.”
I got chills. She was gone. She was free of her suffering and the timing was eerie. She left this world with two of her kids by her side and my dad. She passed with the three most important people to her, by her side. Her last days were filled with her room full of love, laughter and past times shared.
It was a great goodbye.
Not a single tear fell in the room as she left this world and went to heaven. Dad said there was a sense of calm and peace as they watched her take her last breath. The suffering was gone, she was finally Home.
She passed away a half hour before my niece’s second birthday whose middle name was chosen in honor of her.
We said our final goodbyes on Wednesday May 7th. Although she’s not earth bound anymore she’ll always live on with the memories shared, the photos captured and the unforgettable recipes of hers that we will continue to make through the years.
What a beautiful life she had for 89 years – full of so much love and giggles, oh her giggles – she had to best giggle.