This is going to be a tough one to write.
So my Grandma. She’s super important to my life story. Not only for the obvious reason that’s she gave birth to my Mother (who is kinda necessary to me even having a story) but because she gave me something really important as a kid. She gave me the gift of unconditional, constant, never changing, steady, predictable, unfailing love. I never had to guess how she was feeling. There was never a question of where I stood with her. Being the emotional sponge that I am made this crucial to my growing up. She always said what she meant and meant what she said. As an adult I’ve realized that this is a rare quality. I LONG to be this way. (Especially for my kiddos) She radiated consistency and peace.
My grandma had a really rough start. Her Mom died when she was 2 years old and her Father re-married to a women who favored her own children over her. She was cruel to her. Her Dad then died when she was only 14 years old and as soon as she was old enough she emancipated herself and rented a room close to her HS and spent summers with her Aunt (where her siblings had already relocated to.)
I have NEVER heard her complain or play the victim . She is a survivor and an amazing example of rising above circumstances and living a better way. She loved God deeply and loved her family well. I admire her so much.
She and my grandpa built so many memories with us during summertime. The days at their farm never seemed long enough! (if you are new here you can read about a little more about my childhood summers here.)
My Grandpa passed away July 2013. He was in his inner tube fishing. He wouldn’t want to be anywhere else and he had been suffering for a long time. I could write a whole post just about him! (and a myriad of other people for that matter. But this one is for Gma Jean.)
We thought grandma had years and years left of memory building left. She had just started a new tradition of renting a place in Omaha for the family so we could gather every summer. She has always been healthy and sharp and so much fun. She drove her friends to church and visited them in nursing homes and was very busy all the time. But then she began mentioning that she had trouble finding her words. She mentioned to my Mom and my Aunt several times that she felt like she was slipping away. Finally she went in and had a brain scan done that revealed a stroke she had awhile back. Eventually we learned she had a very aggressive form of vascular dementia. It has been a huge shock to our family. It has attacked her communication center very quickly. My grandma could drive in December 2014. Now she is sitting in a special chair in a nursing home on hospice on a liquid diet. I have been there 3 times to visit since May and the last time I was there she couldn’t even respond to me. She is a prisoner in her own body and from what we understand she knows what’s going on around her. This is AWFUL torturous humiliating cruel wrong stuff. I close my eyes and listen really hard and can still hear her laugh and hear her say “I love you too”. The last words she could speak before she lost all communication ability were ‘yes’ ‘ok’ ‘no’ and ‘i love you.” Isn’t that amazing? This is a woman truly defined by her love. I miss her SO MUCH.
Suffering is no joke. I have been wrestling with the grief of this more than I ever have anything else. All the big God questions. “Why? This is so unfair God! Why wont you just take her home Lord?” So.much.grief. Ugh I don’t even know what all to pray I just want her suffering to end. So I cling to His promises and just pray for peace and comfort and His presence to surround her. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” Rev 21:4
The day I realized that she was not ok was the day my mom texted me that my Dad would be picking up my grandma’s piano and bringing it to me. I said “why? won’t she want to play it?” and my Mom replied “no she can’t play piano anymore”. I mean her life was music. I had the hardest time wrapping my mind around the concept that she couldn’t play her piano anymore. But get this for timing. . .I inherit a bunch of her treasures and get to move them into my new farmhouse. I can’t describe to you what that nostalgia feels like. The first time i pulled out that piano bench and started playing an old hymn just started pouring out of the keys. I remembered how much I used to love to play. (It’s been over 15 years) I sat there, in my new foyer with my fingers hovering over the piano keys, while staring out the window that overlooks corn and blue skies for miles and I just sobbed. I sobbed and I sobbed and I sobbed. It was healing way down deep in my soul. I find so much comfort knowing that all of this was orchestrated by God in His perfect timing.
So we live on this beautiful homestead. A refuge. A place where I want to emulate that simple, consistent, love filled home I visited every summer. A place I want my friends and family to come to – to feel safe and loved. A place to stay up past dark in summers and catch fireflies. A place where the world seems a little quieter and God feels a little closer.
In a sense one era ending. . .another beginning