Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Goodbyes Don’t Get Easier


Things have been quiet around here, I know. I’m sure you kept checking in, expecting to see the continuation of the love story of me and my dear Law School Husband. Unfortunately, a bit after I published last Tuesday’s post, I was at work, preparing for a big event, when I received a phone call from my mother. She was in Kansas City, with my grandmother her mother, who was now in the hospital and not expected to last 48 hours.

After sobbing a bit in my boss’ office, I made the decision to leave the event in my capable collegues’ hands and high tailed it across the state to be with my family.

You see, my mother is one of two daughters of my grandmother. I have one cousin – so my grandmother has one granddaughter and two grandsons. We are a very tight knit family on that side. My cousin recently bought a house near my grandma and near his mother’s apartment so everyone could be closer together. They spend a lot of time together.

I am so grateful that I was able to get a rental car quickly (the Saturn is in the shop again, which is a story for another day), prep my coworkers about the event and drive across the state so quickly (I may have broken a few speed limits along the way).

When I got to the hospital, I found her room and was able to see her while she was still lucid. It was truly a blessing to be able to say goodbye in person.

We spent the afternoon chatting in between her morphine shots and her dosing, and I got to spend time with my cousin and mother in the hospital room. It was a late night but my brother and I finally went to hotel room to get some sleep, but early Wednesday morning my mother called us back to the hospital. Grandma was in a lot of pain, having even more trouble breathing and she was thinking that she might not last the day.

At one point on Wednesday, the pain management doctor suggested a test to determine where the bad pain was so they could get a better pain medicine for her to deal with it. When the admitting doctor explained the path that it would take us down, and we asked Grandma what she wanted, she said as clear as day - “I want to go to heaven.”

And so she would, a few hours later. Those might have been the last words she said, as we think back on it. She was given a bed in the hospice wing of another hospital and transferred around dinnertime on Wednesday. We got settled in the new hospital room after dinner and she started going downhill even faster.

By 10 pm that evening, the hospice nurse suggested we call anyone who might want to say good bye at that point – she was going to be leaving us in just mere hours, according to them. Her husband of 14 years, my step-grandfather, was able to say his goodbyes by the nightly news.

And then, thirty minutes into Thursday, she passed into her Eternal Reward. She was reunited with her first husband, my grandfather, her twin sister and all her other siblings, and of course, my father. We can only imagine what a reunion they are having right now!


My apologies in the horrible Photoshop job, but privacy, ya know

Sunday morning, we piled into a town car from the funeral home and made the trek to Northern Missouri to inter my grandmother’s ashes in the family plot. Her family has relations in the cemetery that go back to the homesteading of the state – we even found their plots. I love that I can walk through that cemetery and see people who are listed in my genealogy plots. It really does make you feel connected to my past. The sun was shining, the weather was beautiful, and we got to meet some of Grandma’s  high school classmates (!) that came to the cemetery to pay their respects. We sang Amazing Grace and it was about as perfect as it could be.


My grandmother has been on oxygen almost as long as I can remember. My earlier memories of her were of course cooking me breakfast when we visited (always a treat – real bacon grease!), reading at the kitchen table (we used to have an awesome booth around their table too before the renovations), and bringing back garage sale finds (I think that’s why I get the thrifting bug). She smoked for a long time and her being sick was just a part of my life for a long time.


Being with her as she passed, surrounded by her daughters and grandchildren, made me so happy that I was able to get there in time. We know that she is in a better place, that we grieve not for her, but for us, those who are left behind.

But planning another funeral only 16 months after my father’s – not a fun time. I am quite done with bad news delivered via phone and funeral homes. No more for a while, please.

My cousin read this poem at the burial on Sunday. It pretty much sums up the way we all feel.

Poem by Unknown

God looked around His garden and found an empty place

He then looked down upon the earth and saw your tired face

He put His arm around you and He lifted you to rest.

God’s garden must be beautiful, He only takes the best.

He knew that you were suffering, He knew you were in pain.

He knew that you would never get well on earth again.

He saw the road getting rough and hills were hard to climb.

So He closed your weary eyelids and whispered “Peace is thine.”

It broke our hearts to lose you, but you didn’t go alone

For part of us went with you the day God took you home.

Though the smile is gone forever, and your hands we cannot touch

We will always have sweet memories of the one we loved so much.


  1. Oh, I am so sorry for your loss. Although it's not as good as having her here, it's nice to know that she is in Heaven now. Many thoughts and prayers for you and your family.

  2. I am so sorry. She looked like quite a fun woman. I mentioned this in a blog post of mine the other week, but isnt it amazing how someone (people or animal) can "will" themselves to pass on? Once they get the OK to let go and are at peace with their decision ... they move on.

    Again, I'm so sorry. You've had a rough couple years. :(

  3. My heart and prayers go out to you and your family. I'm so sorry for your loss, she sounded like an absolutely amazing woman.

  4. I'm so sorry for you lovely. That's hard to go through. I'm sending thoughts and prayers your way. Surely she is rejoicing with her family in heaven now though!

  5. Oh hon, I'm so sorry. We just had the funeral for my late Grandma's sister this past weekend and I could so relate to this post. Virtual hug!

  6. So sorry to hear about your Grandmother, but I am so glad that you were able to leave work and get there.