I spent the weekend of August 23rd, 2003 at my grandma’s bedside, holding her hand, reading her favorite Psalms, combing her hair, massaging her hands with lotion, and just simply sitting in silence with her. The final leg of her journey had started just three short weeks before with a hospitalization that lead to hospice care in a nursing facility. I knew I didn’t have much time left with her, but when I said goodbye to her on August 24th, I had no idea the end would come just twenty-four hours later.
On my way home from work, while I was riding in the shuttle to the off-site employee parking, my mom called me. There I sat, surrounded by strangers, hearing the crushing news about losing one of my very favorite people in the whole world. You see, she was more than a grandma to me…she was my kindred spirit. She moved in with my family in 1985 when I was in the second grade and she became my third parent. She was there for all the birthday parties, all the talent shows and games, all the homework and tests, and the many crushes and teenage woes. She watched me graduate from high school and college and was there, front and center, to see me get married.
One of my very favorite things to do with her was to go through her drawer full of pictures in her room. We would sit on her bed while she would tell me stories about growing up on the dairy farm in Wisconsin. Memories of living in Chicago with her sister’s family and meeting my grandpa when they both worked at Walgreens. How she and my grandpa moved around for his job and all the homes that she loved. Her eyes always lit up when she talked about my grandpa. And although he had died many years before in 1977, you could feel how much she loved him still. I was named after him (his name was Donald) and according to her, I had his “baby blues.” I think there was something about me, beyond my name and my eyes, that reminded her of him. I like to think so at least.
It’s hard to fathom that she has been gone for fifteen years now. Oh how I wish she could have met my son! I think he would have reminded her of my grandpa too…his sense of humor and big personality, his eyes and his smile. I think he would have been the apple of her eye.
There is so much peace in knowing that she is reunited with her love in Heaven. I miss her something fierce, but I take great comfort in knowing that I will see her again someday.
“Some people come into our lives and leave footprints on our hearts and we are never ever the same.”