Monday, January 13, 2014

See You in Heaven

Last weekend I went to say goodbye to my Grama. I knew I wouldn't see her again before she died. She was 90 years old with Alzheimer's and a broken hip. Grama was lying in a hospital bed. I sat there most of Friday with my mom, not saying much but watching mom take care of her. I recall when we left that night Grama's eyes were still open and I told mom I hated leaving her while she was awake. It seems as soon as we got home that night my mom became sick with a fever and severe congestion. I told her I would go sit with Grama the next day.

I laid awake that night in bed thinking about a letter I had written my Grama about 8 years ago, before that dreadful disease started taking her mind. I told her of all the wonderful memories I had of being with her as a child. We used to get up in the wee hours of the morning before the birds started chirping to walk a mile or two and get her coffee and us hot chocolate. Halloween was always fun going around with our cousins trick or treating and at Christmas time around her tree seemed to be a hundred presents. There was always a fire going in the fireplace and a big bowl of nuts to crack. On Memorial Day we would sell poppies along the streets while the parade was going on. I wrote her all this so she would know I remembered all the things we did together and so she would know how much I loved her.

I also wanted to make sure she would be in heaven with me forever someday. So I asked her in this letter  if she had ever asked Jesus into her heart as Lord and Savior of her life. She wrote a letter back and it started out, "Oh honey I thought you knew! Yes, I have!" And she went on to tell me the story. She was 12. So as I lay there the night before I was to tell my Grama goodbye, with tears rolling down my face, thinking of all the memories, my soul was at peace.

When I arrived the next day Grama was going in and out of sleep. Every time she opened her eyes I'd get right in her face. I wanted her to know I was there. Eventually she woke up due to being in a lot of pain and stayed awake for quite awhile. I combed her hair and started talking to her. It was hard to understand much of what she said, but you could make out the words yeah, no, I know, and I love you.

We were eye to eye as I spoke to her. I told her what a great Grama she was and that she was such a beautiful lady. As I stroked her hair, I asked her if she remembered those silver dollar pancakes glistening with sugar that she always use to make us. I started to cry then and told her once again what a great Grama she was and how much I loved her. She just stared into my eyes.

I asked her if she would like me to wash her face. "Yeah." So I got a cool wash cloth, she doesn't like it warm, and I slowly washed her cheeks and then her eyes. I asked her if that felt good and she said yeah. I swabbed her mouth out with some water and then got her to suck on a straw and I tell you it was like she hadn't drank in days! Her eyes lit up. But she was so congested she began to cough. I kept talking to her when suddenly she said, "You tell him how hard this is!" I don't know who she was speaking of but I have my guesses. By this time I was still up in her face when the tears started again. I heard her say something about being worn out so I asked if she was. "Yeah." I said I know you are and it's okay. I love you and Jesus loves you and it's okay! I stroked her hair. Then I told her I'd be right back, that I needed to get a tissue from my purse, and as I walked to get it I heard something behind me and turned to look. Grama's entire head and shoulders were off the bed looking for me! I said," I'm right here Grama I'm coming!"

As I returned I asked her to give me a smile but she wouldn't. Finally about 20 seconds later she gave me the biggest grin. I said, "There it is" and smiled back. I was brushing her hair again when she said something I couldn't understand so I leaned my ear to her mouth and she said, "Wash my hands." I had to repeat her to make sure that's what she said and she said "yeah."

I got another cool washcloth and came back to the side of the bed. I gently took her hand from under the covers and slowly washed her fingers with it. Then she gently lifted her hand to my face and touched my cheek with her fingertips. I pressed my cheek into the palm of her hand and took a deep breath in and closed my eyes. She moved her fingers towards my eye as to brush away the tears. We just kept looking at each other.

She may not have remembered who I was, but a soul doesn't forget what love feels like...ever!
 She knew I loved her!

When she lay her hand back on the bed I gently placed it under the covers and tucked her in. I asked if that felt good and warm? "Yeah." And then the pain medication took over and she closed her eyes to sleep.

I wanted to shake her and wake her so this could go on forever but I recalled the night before telling my mom I hated leaving while she was awake. So I kissed her forehead lots of times.

I loved the feel of her warm skin! I whispered I love you in her ear and I turned and walked away.

The Lord has since called her home. Such a long beautiful life!

I can't leave it like that though. When I walked in that hospital room the first day I couldn't help but notice she was still wearing bright red fingernail polish! And this is the woman she was. I like to think I take after her.

RIP Grama! I love you and I will see you in heaven...

Joanna Bradburry
2/22/1924 - 1/11/2014