I am not one to admit to having favorites within my family. There’s a great deal of jealously on both sides and I learned early on that what I did for one person, I had to do for others. Most especially for my two grandmothers, who had the wonderful foresight (or cunning) to be neighbors for the majority of my life. From the age of five, I have been a visiting granddaughter “from out-of-town”, and as such, my grandma time has been split almost consistently down the middle during my visits to my hometown. Morning at Grandma B’s, evening at Grandma S’s. First night at Grandma S’s, second night at Grandma B’s. If I needed a tie-breaker (or just a break!) – I ran to my aunt’s house for relief. Don’t get me wrong, the reason I was so diligent in dividing my time between my grandmothers was because of my love and respect for them both. I had no desire for either to ever think they weren’t a priority to me. I don’t remember the content of all our conversations, but we always talked. My time with both of them consisted of me just sitting with them in their space, sharing conversation, watching their TV programs with them, me reading and them doing their own thing. I was also their occasional errand girl, driver to doctor visits, personal shopper, etc. I did whatever was needed during my time with them.
Grandma S passed away in mid-December 2012. The last time I had visited with her in her home – when it was just her and me – was sometime in 2004. After that, it was mostly urgent visits to the hospital with family and doctors telling me it was her “last days”. Thinking of it in this way, for nearly eight years, we were in her last days…. I received another such urgent call the last week of November. My aunt told me through her sobs that my grandmother was asking for me and I had to come “now”. I managed to get across the country to her bedside within 36 hours or so. I will tell you, we had been in a nearly fifteen-year stretch of urgent calls and emergency hospital visits for Grandma S. Part of me didn’t think this would be the last time I would see her alive; she had continued to live despite what her doctors predicted time after time for so many years. But my spirit knew better. My spirit wanted to share Jesus Christ with her. I can’t recall ever discussing faith or religion with Grandma S. That wasn’t one of our topics. We talked sports, we talked school, we talked work. In more recent years she wanted to know if I had met someone. I would teasingly respond that she had to keep holding on because my man hadn’t come for me yet.
When I got to her bedside, I could only look at her, kiss her repeatedly and tell her over and over again that I love her. After a bit of that and concern that the attention was a bit much, I sat with her until she fell asleep. Then I took out my journal and my box of Christmas cards that had been in my bag for over a month. The first card went to her. This is what I wrote:
December 1, 2012
My Dear Grandma Stuart,
I can’t remember the last holiday season we shared time, but I certainly never thought the next holiday season we came together would be in a hospital – you in bed & me at your side praying for the peace of Jesus Christ to fill you and the breath of the Holy Spirit to soothe and comfort you. We’ve never spoken of spiritual matters, but I asked God to take you in hand and hold you close. I now ask you to receive His Grace, receive His offer of Salvation, receive His Son Jesus Christ into your heart – welcome Him with your voice. I love you so very much. It’s a comfort to me & it should be to you to know that God loves you so much more. He is here for you & He brought me to your side.
Love you always,
When she awoke, I read the whole card to her – the pre-written message and my personal note. I asked her if she understood and she nodded. I didn’t want to push her beyond that, but I did feel confident that I had delivered the message I was meant to deliver. I sat by her bed most of that day praying, journaling, writing, and thinking. Paramount in my thoughts was the fact that I couldn’t remember much from a lifetime of conversation with my grandmother, but I knew the one thing we had never talked about was the only thing I wanted to share with her before she departed. It is truly well with my soul that I was there to do so. She passed away two weeks later.
In the end, all that mattered was that I was able to hug and kiss her one last time and tell her that all my love for her was nothing compared to God’s love for her.
May she rest in eternal peace.