Friday, December 22, 2006

Letting My Grandmother Go...

My grandmother is dying. Mom called me this evening to let me know Dave and Chip were heading over to the house and that Dan and I should come. I woke up Dan, he and I zipped jackets on Hyrum and Madolin (Melissa is at work tonight), and we jumped into his car after he scraped the windows clean.

Once we were at mom's house, she met us at the door. "The dogs let me know you were here" she said as she met us with a smile "Come on downstairs, Dave and Chip are already down with Grandmother". She held the door open for me and Dan followed me in--I carried Maddy who was bare legged to the cold save for mismatched socks, and he carried Hyrum who was wearing shoes and no socks. We'd really tried to get over here pretty fast. We made or way downstairs and Dave and Chip were sitting with Grandmother and talking cheerily. I suppose I was expecting something a bit more solemn, and the conversation warmed me. We visited and swapped stories for nearly an hour, Grandmother mostly listening and observing, strangely quiet from her recent strokes. During our visit, she had a few odd moments--like not remembering if she liked donuts, or what her opinion on something was. I even caught her a few times studying my face as if she knew who I was yet couldn't quite place her finger on it. I didn't know what to do and it made me uncomfortable, but the hug and kiss I gave her were warm and familiar, and in the short moment I was in her arms, she became what she has always been to me--my " 'Mer". Her smell and her eyes jumped out at me first, then her voice tumbled over me. "Hi baby" she said, her slightly husky Southern timbre washing me in its familiarness. I had heard her voice for much of my life, and I wrapped it around me now, a kitten snuggled in against the cold. I hugged her back, knowing this was the place that I knew I belonged, where she knew me and I could hide, like that child who sat with her in the church pews years ago, snuggled against her soundly asleep.

Kathryn Sue Allsworth Stubbs was the first member of our family to convert to the LDS church and she has always felt to me to be the beginner of a legacy. Her presence is thick with it and I revere her for it, she is as immoveable and stubborn as a pillar of granite, sunk deep into God's loamy earth. She is the kind of person who you want on your side, a confidant who has instilled in me in these past few months a better sense of who she is--more than the child comforter of my youth, more than the woman who taught me manners southern style--how to say "yes ma’am" and "no ma’am" and who jabbed me into complying into table manners with the pointy end of a fork. She became someone I could talk with, and in turn listen to when I was confused or concerned or just plain old tired. She would feed me with her words and her cheeses, make me sit down and tell me how beautiful Melissa and my little family were, challenge me to do my best for them, and reassure me that I was making the right choices in my life.

Tonight seeing her half there, seeing her in confusion and hesitant because her mind limited her vocabulary made my heart feel heavy. I wanted her to be the same and it made me sad, yet knowing from mom that she was tired and ready to pass to the other side made me anxious for her. I know she is tired, and has lived a rich full life. I do not desire her to stay just for my benefit, and I know she is ready to continue on the great journey of her life. In my belief, the afterlife isn't just some projection we make of our wishes and fears, it is real. I can't explain it without faith, and my words seem feeble this evening as I try to tangibly hash out something which will provide evidence that post mortal existence is true, but I feel it is there. I feel my loved ones reaching out to me, in a caring and interested manner. That what I do matters, and it matters to them. I believe they are all around us, and they know who we are--and in turn are just as concerned for our well being as Grandmother is in me. This makes my heart want to echo those beautiful words from 1 Corinthians 15:55 "Oh death where is thy sting, or grave where is thy victory?" I know I will see her again, not just as a wonderful Grandmotherly sage who has gone through everything in life (including two hip replacement surgeries). I will see her as a woman in her prime, released form this veil of cares and woe, working on her own progression in that celestial sphere. I know this time of her passing into the next life is painful and I will miss her, but I have faith that she and I will meet again, and talk about concerns and struggles we passed though in life. Perhaps we'll laugh at the smallness of our thinking back in the old days when these tiny bodies of clay limited us. Perhaps we'll sup with God in the great Mansions he has prepared for all who believe on his name. I cannot see the times ahead as my eyes are veiled by these mortal eyes, but I do know my Grandmother is at peace tonight. And if she passes into the next world tonight or a thousand nights from now, my love for her will not wane.

I am proud to be one of her grandsons, proud to have gone tonight with my three brothers to be with her and give her some peace through her latest struggles. Tonight I thank God for the grace he has for all of us, if we'll but open our eyes to it. His "grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before [him]...". All it really takes is us realizing He is there in everything we go through. I really believe that God can show me how to live my life, through all the trials, and still see his hand in it. For what purpose? His. And I thank Him for Grandparents and Parents who care enough to love me, show me faith, and lead me in a way that makes me want to reach back to him in gratitude. I just realized it, but life is truly one eternal round, all of us linked together forming the line stretched and curved back to God.


Melissa said...

Beautiful Jay. Words can not describe how I felt reading that. You made me cry and smile. I love you! You are a great man.

Shopgirl said...

You expressed it perfectly. I too cried, and I feel the same. I think we both feel the same about our Grandmother. She is wonderful. I went to spend a couple hours with her Saturday. I left the boys home with Jody, and found her in the shower when I got there. Rod went upstairs from being with her all morning, and I went into the bathroom and visited until she got out. She had forgotten to take her new hearing aids out, and was so worried. I helped her dry off, and get dressed. She really didn't seem like her self...the Grandmother we know. It's kinda like you said, her personality would come and go...I too felt like she looked at me knowing she knew me and obviously I knew her too, but she couldn't remember how. I just tried to help her with confidence, not to let my emotions show because I didn't want them to frighten her. I lotioned her feet before putting sox on, brushed her hair just the way she likes it. Any one of us grandchildren know she likes it brushed upwards in the back. :) Do you remember her cake rake she loved so much as her hair pick? She always had the best, most interesting things with her at the holiday visits. I guess it's eespecially hard for me because so many memories I have of cherisded moments are when she came to our home for Christmas. She is one of the biggest reasons we actually had such wonderful Christmas mornings. On Christmas Eve, ironic that today is christmas eve, I would sneak in and find her wrapping her gifts in that wonderful white wrapping paper, with catnip at her side. Do you remember? I think you and I share many memories, we were close in age and both adore her so. Well, back to yesterday, it was nice to just be with her. We ate some hot soup, her trademark, and she came to life again. Grandmother, me, and Rod, just sat and ate and laughed. Then I had to go and I just didn't want to. I had to get back for Jody to get to work. I just hugged her and she was trying so hard to speak about Jeff telling her that he was worried that she couldn't talk. I could tell she was getting frustrated because she couldn't tell me what was in her mind. I just said I'm listening Grandmother, just slow down, I am listening. She tried so hard, but couldn't get the words out right. I told her that I knew what she was trying to say, and that I knew it was because if the strokes, and she just shook her head yes. I told her that I knew that she loved me. I asked her if she knew that I loved her. I just told her she was my favorite Grandparent I had ever had and that I loved her with all my heart. I just hugged her and didn't want to let go... ever. There were tears in her eyes, and I had to say good-bye. I told her I hoped to see her on Christmas day. Jay, I totally know how you are feeling right now. What can we do but just keep loving her? You are a wonderful person, I see that you care so deeply and so unselfishly about others. Thank you for sharing this post, it made me laugh and cry and I think that Grandmother would really appreciate it. See you tomorrow for Christmas, I Love you.

Jarubla said...

Melissa and Beth,

Thank you for your sweet words and all the support and love you both give me! I am a lucky guy to have women like you two, mom, and Grandmother in my life!

Merry Christmas!