My grandmother is gone. It’s taken me a week to put this in words. It still won’t be adequate.
Alzheimer’s robbed my sweet Mimi of her memory this past year, although it was picking at her memory for a few years, the COVID lockdowns escalated her memory loss to a level requiring continuous monitoring in a nursing home. My grandfather faithfully visited every single day, bringing her coffee from home just the way she liked it. She had regular visits from one of her brothers, her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, a great niece—she was dearly loved! Visits with her were bittersweet; I might have to introduce myself at the start of the visit and we’d have a “normal” conversation where should would be cognizant of who I was but would repeat herself or speak about random events, other times she would recognize me on entering her room and then ask my grandfather mid-visit who I was.
Last year, during the holidays, my grandfather was able to take my grandmother out of the nursing home for excursions and they joined us at Thanksgiving and Christmas for our family get-together. My grandmother loved her children and us, her grandchildren but there was a special delight in her great-grandchildren and her eyes lit up whenever they were around. I often wondered if she saw them at their current ages or as toddlers and young adolescents when we’d visit for our annual “Birthday party for Jesus” or maybe our many Friday night happy hours while they kids swam in the pool and the adults chatted and enjoyed a relaxing end of the week cocktail. Her joy was contagious and she treasured family time.
Growing up, my grandparents were always a huge part of our lives. We had sleepovers, went fishing, had crab boils, and family reunions where we were always entertained by the lively card games of my grandmother and her siblings and their families. My grandmother had a strong faith and after many years of prayer, my grandfather came back to the church and they were able to have their marriage blessed. She was the confirmation sponsor for our sons. She remembered every birthday, followed up on life events to see how everyone made out at whatever they were working on at the time and always, always had a prayer for us, a blessing for every occasion and we knew without a doubt she regularly covered her family in prayerful intercession.
I mourned my grandmother’s passing last year the first time she didn’t recognize me on a visit. Since then, my visits have been more for my grandfather, encouraging him and being a small and occasional part of his daily routine. I didn’t think I’d take it so hard when she physically passed away because I felt her loss so acutely a year ago. But I did. The air left my lungs. I actually sensed when she passed several minutes before I read my mother’s text. The fact that I wouldn’t get to hug her or hold her soft hand again was a shock to my soul.
Having had the great blessing of having my grandparents for so long in my life and in my children’s lives is a tremendous gift, one I know that so many are deprived of. My grandmother absolutely helped shape and grow my faith life, encouraged me throughout every stage of my life, provided unconditional love, and taught me that life is hard and to love throughout the struggles. Faith and love persevere.
Without a doubt, I know that our family has a powerful intercessor in heaven, that she has been made whole and I will see Mimi again one day. Until that day, I hope to carry on her legacy of faith and prayer in our family and to share that same love and strength she shared with us.
Mimi and I at lunch several years ago, I was helping her set her cell phone up. Good times!
Rest In Peace.