Friday, January 8, 2010

New Year, New Start

Happy 2010 everyone. Hope you ushered in the New Year with happy hearts.

The break was a whirlwind for our family. My mother left to be with my Grandmother as she began hospice 2 weeks before Christmas all the festivities were different with her absence. Eric had the bright idea to set his laptop webcam up in the living room so that we could let her see the kids open gifts. I had my phone on speaker so we could all hear and talk. She felt a bit more connected that way.

We had planned to leave for Missouri on the 27th (my bday) to visit Eric's grandparents and uncles and aunts. I selfishly hoped that Grandmother wouldn't die on my birthday. I didn't want anything about the day of my birth to be sad to my mother (or to me, for that matter). We left our house at around 2pm and started our trip meter on the car. We got to Eric's grandparents' house at about 11:30. Mother called at 7:30 the next morning to tell me that Grandmother had died in her sleep the night before. Daddy had gotten to San Antonio that day (Sunday) as well to be with Mom. He couldn't settle that night and kept going into Grandmother's room to check on her. At midnight he could hear her breathing, at 1am he couldn't so he woke mother and they checked her more thoroughly and she was gone. One hour after my birthday. We'll see what sadness there is when it rolls around next year. Right now I just feel overwhelming gratitude. I'll talk about that more later. As it was Monday and we had had a short night and arrangements weren't made yet, we took it easy at Granny and Grandpap's house. There was snow on the ground so Eric and the kids played quite a while in it. I had told Mother that we'd like to NOT get back in the car on Tuesday but we'd do whatever we had to to make it to TX for the funeral. In the end, we had Tuesday to visit Eric's other grandmother, Grammy Berry, and also to have dinner with the family.

We left Wed. morning for TX at around 9. Got to friends' house (who were putting up all 5 of us and my folks and my brother who flew in) at about 11pm. Exhausted. The family that had been available had made the trek down to the Valley (Rio Grande Valley, that is) that day for her burial. Grandmother's memorial was to be held Thursday at 11am. It was a beautiful service. I have 8 other cousins who are mostly all married and so 6 of us cousins (or spouses of cousins) led the service. My Uncle and Aunt sang. It was just sweet and full. Friends from our old church in SA came to lend support to Mother. It was just good.

Afterwards, we headed back to Grandmother's house to try to go though and sort everything. This is not an easy thing to do. But here's where the gratitude comes in. Now, I am surrounded by LOTS of her things. I know things aren't important but they become precious because it allows me to talk about her, to handle the things she loved, to remind my kids that,"These are the little cups Grandmother's daddy gave her. Aren't they cute?" Or,"look at these pretty earrings that Grandmother had. Grandaddy gave these to her." These things are a way to keep her, to hold her near, even though she seems very far. I'll talk more about that later too, I'm still on gratitude.

At her service, I was real weepy, of course, but not just with grief. When it was my turn to speak, I told the group that I was having a hard time naming my tears. I thought that I'd be just as teary if Grandmother was sitting with us. But I was (am) so grateful to be part of my family. So proud of the woman she was, of who she inspires us to be. When people gather to acknowledge a job well done, a legacy of good things, it's hard to not be overcome---for me anyway. I'm so grateful for the manner of her death. She realized she was not going to get well. She chose to cease treatment; to endure a short time without it knowing what was coming to her was so great. She kept all her mental capabilities. She was so weak but she was still sharp. She had things well prepared to pass to children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Everything was taken care of. Then she simply went to sleep and woke up in glory.

We decided to stay in San Antonio Friday and help at the house and drive by our old house and eat at a favorite restaurant. We left Sat morning at around 9am. We got home at about 8:15. The trip meter said 2100 miles and 35 hours in the car. That's a lot of driving. The kids did really well...more gratitude there.

Mom and Dad came home this past Monday with a U-Haul full of more things from Grandmother's house. Lots of this was stuff I had picked out as special to me or that I could use. I have a handkerchief that she was given as a graduation gift...I'm thinking Jaylie could have it as the 'something old' when she's good to have a hanky with your bouquet in case you get I did. I have 2 sets of sheets...her sheets were always so soft. I have several afghans, which were actually made by my great grandmothers. I have lots of things from her kitchen that I will use frequently. All of these things remind me of her. And this leads me to the Lord's Supper we take on Sundays at our church. As I share Grandmother's things with my kids and try to pass on how and why they are important to me, I hear Jesus saying,"This is my body. This is my blood..." He didn't have stuff to leave. I can't scramble eggs in Jesus' skillet like I can my grandmother's. But when I sit in church and focus on the Supper, I can hear him say, "These are my things...remember me. Tell your kids why this is special." And now I'm back to gratitude again.

Thanks for reading this long post. Many blessings to you in 2010.