I will miss you…a statement I’ve heard a couple of times this week. Two different times. Two different reasons. Two different feelings.
Today was the last day of school for the kids in our school district. I had the afternoon bus route to do and was lucky enough to get to endure the it’s-the-last-day-of-school-and-we-don’t-care attitude. While I was waiting for the junior high students to get on the bus, I overheard one telling the other, “I will miss you”. In a day or so, they’ll probably have a ball game bringing them all together again but the day-to-day reason for bringing them together was over for three months. When I heard that statement, it made me think of the last time I heard that statement this week.
This was on Mother’s Day. Grandma wanted to see the flowers that I had given mom.
Grandma was 97 – she had just turned 94 when I wrote this post about celebrating her birthday. I knew she would have to leave us some day. It just happens. For the past several years, Grandma would tell me she wanted to go home, “I think God has forgotten me”. I would reassure her there was a reason she was still here. She would wonder what that could be since she was confined to a wheelchair after her hip surgery many years ago. I know she didn’t like being where she was and spending the days as she did. Every time I drove by the Care Center – in a hurry to get something picked up or done – I would wonder what she was doing. And, of course, feel guilty. Grandma was never one to MAKE you feel guilty (she knew how busy our lives were) I just felt guilty for driving past her and not stopping in to say hello.
“Grandma, it’s ok to go home”. That’s what I told her Monday night.
I knew she wasn’t good and the day had been long and it was already 6:30 pm when I went to see her. When I got to her room, my aunt was there. She’d been there all day. I walked up to her and bent low to her face and said, “Hi Grandma! The last time I saw you, you sure didn’t have all this stuff in the way”. She had an oxygen tube wrapped around her ears. The silly thing kept falling away from her nose. I don’t know if it was really doing her any good but I tried to adjust it a bit for her. “It’s choking me”. It really wasn’t but I loosened the band that was keeping it up under her chin – a lot like a child’s cowboy hat.
She grabbed my hand and told me they were cold (which they were). It’s been a rather chilly, rainy spring and this day was no different. I hadn’t even grabbed my coat on the way out the door when I left home. It had been a busy day and I just wanted to go see how Grandma was and I wasn’t thinking about the outside temperature. She held my hand – close to her heart – until it warmed up. We talked small talk. She wanted to know what the girls were doing and how Eli and Nora were. She was slipping but not enough that she still didn’t know what was going on! That’s the amazing thing. For being 97, she was sharp as a tack. “What was Jim up to”? I told her he had been busy for the last month trying to get stuff ready to head south. She wondered when we would be leaving. I gave her the same answer that I’ve been giving everyone – “I don’t know”.
“I hope I get there”. I reassured her she would.
Grandpa has been gone for nearly 30 years already. She learned how to live without him a long time ago. I know right after he passed away, it was very difficult for her. She knew nothing about finances. She hadn’t even learned how to drive a car. She did know how to make a grandchild happy, though, with cookies in the cookie drawer. Her fried chicken and macaroni salad were the BEST. The nurse brought in some soup and juice while I was there. She tried it but said she wasn’t hungry. That’s what made me think about her fried chicken and macaroni salad. We visited about that and all agreed even a beer would be good. Grandma gave a nod of her head in agreement.
“Grandma, when you get there, will you do me a favor”? She looked at me and said she would. I said, “when you get there, will you tell Grandpa I say hello? And will you hold those babies of mine (I had three miscarriages)?” She nodded her head.
Those miscarriages came at different times between the girls. There were two between Jenna and Taylor. And one more between Taylor and Callie. That’s why it’s like we have two families. I even had someone once ask me if the girls were all with the same dad. (couldn’t they tell they all look alike?) Silly, right? I know they’re waiting for me in heaven. But in the meantime, they’ve got some really wonderful Grandma’s who will be more than happy to hold them.
“I will miss you”. That’s when the tears began to flow. “Grandma, I will miss you too”. We hugged. It was the tightest hug I’d felt from her in a long time. It felt as though she didn’t want to let go.
She was tired. My aunt had told me she hadn’t slept very well the night before. She was struggling to catch her breath and couldn’t relax. Her eyes were closed now so I gently stroked her beautiful, white hair and rubbed her forehead. The whole while I was doing that, I remembered the many times as a young girl she would let me stand on her couch and fix her hair. She was always so patient. So many wonderful memories!
I knew she wouldn’t be as good the next day as she was tonight but she was exhausted. I had to let her rest. I continued to rub her head gently. When I decided I had better leave, she was in a deep sleep. I leaned down and kissed her one more time and quietly left her room. I knew I would never be able to talk to her again and this broke my heart.
I knew she was ready to go and as I walked out the door, I prayed that God would take her without having to endure much pain.
Tonight I drove by the Care Center. I caught myself wondering what Grandma was doing and quickly remembered she was no longer there. Grandma passed away very early yesterday morning. She was where she wanted to go – she was with Grandpa and she was holding those babies.
I will miss you…