The last week has been a whirlwind and it hardly seems possible to have been an actual week. My grandmother took a turn for the worse last Sunday evening and died early Thursday morning.
Death is different when it is expected. (I realize it is expected for all of us, but I’m trusting you know what I mean.) I think back to the surprise of my uncle’s death, which is really where this whole story started including my grandmother’s diagnosis. My uncle’s death was fast with no warning. But for my grandma, after a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, she was given up to four months to live.
The difference? She was 98 years old and ready. She wanted to go home. And as twisted as this may sound to some, we wanted it for her. We had time to make our preparations, if only in our own hearts and minds. So while we have cried and this week has been sad, I can also say in faith that this is good.
This week has been a time of reflection and of being thankful for her life. And I wanted to share with you a couple things.
~ While we had no intention of her being away from her home and living this long in a health care facility, I am grateful for the time it allowed me to be with her. She had previously lived (even at 98) on her own about an hour away from us. And truth be told, I wouldn’t have made it down there to visit as often. But up here, I was able to visit about five days a week. That time to me is precious. That time allowed my kids to get to know her better, especially my daughter who spent many hours with us.
~ I am thankful for her mind. She was quick as a whip. Many days I sat next to her, pen in hand, writing down the stories of her childhood, marriage, family life and travels. She traveled to over 30 countries around the world. Amazing. So many stories. So many experiences.
Even in the end, that woman still knew more about world events than I did. She was a news-junkie, baseball loving, smart cookie.
~ I am thankful that she didn’t have months of pain. Apparently, she was one of the pancreatic cancer patients who didn’t have pain throughout the whole diagnosis. Don’t get me wrong, the pain at the end was horrible, but aside from a couple easily managed episodes, pain didn’t rule until the end.
~ I am thankful for God’s timing. So often I asked God to move and take her home. But delay upon delay left me confused. I had to trust He was in control. It just so happened that a few days before the turn, my aunt returned to town for an unscheduled visit. She was here for the end. God’s timing is His own and it is always right.
~ I am thankful for a great Hospice staff. This is the second time I have witnessed Hospice at work. They are an amazing group of “called” people. What a blessing they are to those moving through the dying process.
~ I am thankful for my grandmother’s faith. In Christ, we can grieve with hope that we will see her again. I joyfully think not only of my grandma seeing Jesus face to face but also of the reunion she has had with her husband, her son and his wife and other loved ones.