Bittersweet Blessings

Once upon a season, the idea of working weekends would have been detrimental to our home life. Time spent together as a family after a week of school, work, extracurricular and all that goes along with life with a family of 4 growing kiddos warranted some time for breathing and reconnecting for all of us and weekends were sacred. This season, however, is a different season altogether and finds us in a place of kids who are now young adults, spreading their wings and leaving us with an emptier nest by the day. At this point, working weekends isn’t so bad since it leaves plenty of time during the week that the hubs and I are home together, providing opportunities to take walks throughout the day, chit chat, lunch, daily Mass and usually a date thrown in somewhere.

This season is a slower pace of life. During the first few weeks of my current assignment with copious free time during the week, my grandmother (my dad’s mom) experienced some health problems that sent her into a physical decline and she was placed on hospice care at home with my aunt and uncle.

My grandparents were married for 44 years and when my grandfather passed away, I was 20 and entering radiology school. I moved in with my grandmother to keep her company and transition to a new life as a widow and maintained my freedom as a college student (living her best life with her grandmother). It was a mutually beneficial relationship and we got along wonderfully. She taught me to rotate my linens, folding towels in thirds, how to iron my uniforms (even though she did it for me most of the time), I mowed her lawn—occasionally decapitating sprinkler heads, we hung linens to dry on the clothesline (a smell I still love to this day), tended to her rose garden and various other plants in her immaculate yard and we had morning coffee and cake before I left for school. Our two years passed quickly and when I graduated, Gram sold her house and moved in with my aunt and uncle.

Life does not stop when illness enters the picture, and my aunt and uncle had various appointments they needed to attend so I was grateful for the opportunity to provide some respite care for them and selfishly, some special time with my grandmother catching up on life and grasping these last days. Physically, my grandmother was weak, slept a lot and didn’t eat or drink much, however, she was still very alert mentally. The evenings brought about “sundowning” but our daytime visits presented very little of this.

These visits with Gram were precious. She slept much but always woke up for our visits. This time, shared intermittently with other family members was borrowed time and we all cherished these moments. We caught Gram up on our lives, our kid’s lives, home projects in the works, discussed my aunt’s orchids, the garden and a few nostalgic stories for giggles. She was tired but present, sassy, laughing and holding hands with us and Mr. Wiggles, her (15-Year- old!!!!) poodle ever present at her side.

During what would be my last visit with Gram, she didn’t wake up. We spent this time in prayer. Holding her hand, I prayed with the Laudate app the prayers for the dying, the elderly, the Our Father, Hail Mary as well as my own words. I knew these prayers were walking her to Heaven and while I was so sad to let her go, I was so honored to walk with her. That evening she passed from this earthly life to the her heavenly home. What a gift.

Requiescat in pace, Gram.

Gram

Gram and Grampa
Gram with Dad and Aunt Liz
Gram (in black dress) with her parents and unknown gal

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