Monday, June 7, 2010
Overwhelmed with Sorrow...and JOY
On August 20, 1979, I was born on her birthday. I think from the beginning that made our relationship special. But she was the type of grandmother who made us all, all 19 of us, feel loved and cherished.
I am so very thankful for this past year. Thankful that I have lived close enough to visit her often. Thankful that my boys knew her and felt her love. And yet, each time I visited, I could feel Grandma slipping away from us a little more. No, she wasn't slipping; she was pulling away...to another world.
She told me a couple of months ago that she thought she was going home that day and that she missed her husband. No, she did not know when her final hour was coming, but she was indeed ready for that day (Rev. 3:11).
Two weeks ago, she was put on hospice. And what we all knew was coming was confirmed...Grandma's time on this earth was drawing to a close.
The following day, my cousins Rebekah and Sarah and I pored through the carefully chronicled almost 89 years of life. Through tears and laughter, we did our best to represent who our Grandma truly was in ten minutes of pictures and song. We took the computer to her and showed her. It had been weeks, maybe months, since Grandma had been alert enough to stay awake to listen to our one sided conversations, but today, she sat up. And she watched, intent, as the scenes of her life passed by on the screen accompanied by song.
When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"
And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory's side, and
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live!
She was not able to speak, but for those nine minutes, her eyes never left the screen.
One week ago, I received a phone call at 12 noon. Grandma had taken a turn for the worse. She could be gone in a couple of hours or a couple of days. I was half a nation away in Colorado and ached to see her one last time this side of heaven. Jordan and I headed to the airport so we could try, just try to get there in time. On the other side of the country, my cousin Daniel was doing the same thing.
10 pm. Daniel arrived at the nursing home.
11 pm. My flight finally landed.
12 pm. I arrived at the nursing home.
Grandma waited patiently for us to get there.
2:30 am. Grandma went home to her Savior, to her heavenly home.
Oh, to be home with our Savior.
My heart aches for those times of old. Croquet matches and baseball games, lemonade and banana cupcakes, prayers and laughter. But Grandma is not longing for the past anymore. No, she is truly at home.
The strife is o’er, the battle done;
The victory of life is won;
The song of triumph has begun: Alleluia!
When I was 10 years old, my grandma suffered a major heart attack and went through open heart surgery. Shortly after that near death experience, she sat down and penned a letter to us. It's hard to describe how much these words meant to me. We were so truly blessed to have a grandmother who taught us the importance of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
June 2, 1989
To My Dear Children, Spouses, and Grandchildren,
Who knows when our final hour will come? Be ready for that day.
All your lifetime my one desire and hope has been that you will cherish “the one thing needful” and believe that wisdom’s highest, noblest treasure is your belief in Jesus and His saving grace. It will be Heaven if we all are there.
Thank you for having been good, thoughtful children, and forgive my mistakes and failures as a mother. Keep Christ in you and He will help you over the rough places of life and give you much joy.
I pray that the Lord will keep the circle of our family unbroken when we stand before Him on the Day of Judgment.
My life has been a full and happy one on this earth with trusting in the Lord. This is my wish for you also.
Your loving Mother, Mother-in-law, and Grandmother,
Grandma, I miss you. But I am filled with JOY. I rejoice in your death and your NEW LIFE. And I will see you soon.
Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.