Tuesday, June 29, 2010

from my draft files.....

(complelely unrelated images)

Summer days in Atlanta are usually hot & humid. Perspiration runs down the middle of your back within minutes of stepping outside. The sky is often a hazy blue gray color, the color of mugginess
But not today. June 30th, 2009. Grammy passed away one year ago today. Today it's unseasaonably gorgeous outside. The sky a bright blue, not a cloud in sight, makes the green in the trees pop as they sway thanks to a cool breeze. A rare low humidity day.

Her last night at home, June 2008. We were hanging out with her & PopPop. I usually have a horrible memory, but i clearly remember she had on a pink cotton blouse. She always looked so pretty in pink. Funny thing, originally in my minds eye I can see her with a head full of grey hair, but in reality she was bald, having lost all that to chemo. We were watching the Braves. She always loved to throw around baseball jargin & players names. I grew up listening to ballgames, especially riding in the car with my dad. The sound always brings me a peaceful secure feeling.

The next day she would go to hospice. Never to return home.

June 24 Poppop wanted to celebrate her birthday. He had ordered a small cake & brought balloons. One of her bestfriends had called me to share that she & some of Lil's friends wanted to come to visit her. I tried to prepare her for what she would see. Prepare her that Lil probably wouldn't recognize her or remember the other ladies names. She had begun that sad spiral, whether drug induced or from the disease where familiarity is lost and the faces of loved ones are difficult to discern.
When they arrived Lil began to cry and seemingly didn't recognize them. Yesterday Poppop shared with me that in hindsight maybe he shouldn't have allowed any visitors. I tried to comfort him and tell him that he was only trying to do what seemed best to him at the time. It was so hard to watch him back then. There were days when I wondered if he really understood that this "was it". Short of a miracle , she was soon going home...her heavenly home.

Lil had spent most of her days in & out of consciousness, her eyes might be open but it seemed as if she were elsewhere. Usually the only lucid comments were in relation to comfort & when her pain meds were due.
Dan & Caroline had come one morning to visit. As soon as Caroline walked in she just lit up, smiled and said in a perfectly clear voice, "Caroline!". She clearly recognized & was cognitively aware that her grandchild was there. Later that morning Dan stood by her bed, holding her hand and reminded her how proud he was to be her son. She replied back to him how proud she was to be his mother. As far as we know, that decleration was her last clear statement.

Between Dan & his dad, someone was always by her bedside. The afternoon of June 30th I was taking Caroline up to Gainesville ( about an hour north of Atlanta) for a special art class. That evening while we were there, Dan & his dad had left to head home for dinner. Within moments of his arrival home, the call came. She had passed. Having spent the majority of my nursing career in oncology, I have heard of that happening many times. As soon as the particular family member arrives from far away, or as soon as the family members leave, its as if the patient feels the peace to let go and spare the loved ones of witnessing the last breath taken.

Today is bittersweet. In the twelve months since her passing, sweet Poppop has aged exponentially. He will turn 88 this year. He is a bright blue eyed, silver headed and perpetually tan man. Never smoked , drank, nor said a cuss word. Loyal to his love for over 50 years. A member of the coast guard, born of swedish immigrants. A man who at one time could do & fix anything. He has wrinkles along the sides of his face formed from years spent smiling and seeing the good in people. He tells us that he kisses her picture each night before turning in. He has spent a great deal of this year with his own medical issues. We thought we were going to loose him a few months ago.

As soon as we pulled into the cemetary, i was able to see Poppop getting out of his daughters car-so frail, having just had a procedure the day before. I instantly felt the lump in my throat and my eyes sting with tears. I've done this many times before myself. Something so formal, so official about going to the graveside. I'll be honest, when the girls were tiny I seldom went to Gregg's grave. He wasn't there I told them. I was afraid it might confuse them, but maybe my motives were for selfish reasons. Maybe I just didn't want to go and face the reality laid out before me in marble & brass, that i was alone and that all they had was me. But something different about watching sweet tender hearted Poppop walk over to her headstone. I sucked it up and thought I needed to pull myself together. Caroline had talked to Dan the night before about how today was special. I prayed without looking to the backseat, that she was doing 'ok'. As she got out of the car, her little black patent mary janes shining in the bright sun, Pop pop gave her the honors of placing the flowers in the vase.

As we stood there, Poppop talked about how we would see Grammy again one day. That he believes she was looking down from Heaven as we gathered . That 70 or 80 years seemed like a long time but it would be nothing compared to the forever that awaits us there. We circled around the grave, all 8 of us holding hands. Dan prayed. As soon as I heard his deep voice begin to crack the tears started. Pooling at the rims of my oversized faux Chanel sun glasses. With my head bowed, I opened my eyes. The breeze was blowing, I was again aware of this glorious unusually nice Atlanta weather. I was holding both Savannah's and Caroline's hands. What struck me at that moment was how Caroline's little shadow was cast over the marble headstone. Her hands outstretched on either side yet in the shadow she looked as if she were standing alone. Taking photographs allows me to capture & hold onto the memory of a moment. As I stood there I asked the Lord to help me store that visual photograph in my heart. The shadowed image of a spiritually sensitive 8 year old little girl, who deeply loved her grammy & who was equally adored by her. The image that Jesus asked that we have the heart of a child. Innocent and pure, uncomplicated, simple, and close to His. The image of the tender heart of a child.

29 comments:

Debby said...

You write so beautifully. This is so moving. Your little girl is just beautiful & so sweet. xo

Razmataz said...

My that brought tears to my eyes. It could have been my lovley granny and grandad you were writing about. My grandad died 5 minutes after my granny left his bedside to go home to rest. I have worked in oncology too and seen that happen.

Even though your granny did not recognize her friends, they probably needed to see her one last time and show their love.

Such treasures these dear old folk are...they have seen and lived through so much and they had such beautiful love.

Cornbread Fed said...

I only recently found your blog, and I must say, this had me in tears.

So well written and a beautiful memory you have here of that day.

kasey said...

you have a way with words my friend.
i think i'll sit and write you a real letter today;-)
chat soon.
xo

katieb said...

I know it's been said many times before Paige, but you write so beautfully~

Tracey said...

thanks for sharing that tender moment with us!

Jeanneoli said...

Your writing is so beautiful. With tears streaming down my face I feel as if I was there. He sounds like the most tender, loving man....so wonder your sweet husband is just like him.

Anonymous said...

With your words, you have painted the picture for us to see. Thank you. Most of us have been there and felt the same feelings. Thanks for sharing such tender and private thoughts....Michelle from Canada.

Farmgirl Paints said...

You move me Paige. It especially touches my heart because we are coming up to the date we found out about Honey's dad being sick. Oh how it changes everything.

Susan said...

Oh this was lovely. I have a similar story, but I will post something about that on my blog.
I love that Miss Cs granny recognized her. What a wonderful treasure for them both.
Hope you're enjoying your vacation.

patricia e said...

Oh Paige, what a beautifully written memory you have painted for us ~ I am in tears

teresa sheeley said...

That is a little short story that should be published. The raw feelings of loosing a father at a young age for me still linger, and honestly I think you did the right thing for your girls. It would have been too painful to go to a grave frequently after my daddy died. It's better to remember the goodness of life.

On a lighter note...my daughter is leaving for Georgia {Warner Robbins} on Thursday - I told her to watch out for that humidity and heat! :)

Jboo said...

That was so beautiful and touching! The others are so right -- you have a way with words. Blessings to you all!

Janet

Martha said...

I have tears pouring down...you write so beautifully and so full of love Paige

Lissa said...

so tender. so sweet. such lovely images.

Between You and Me said...

what a special post...such a tenderly written one from your big, beautiful heart.

i love the way you write!

i couldn't help but jump when i read the part about you taking her to the art camp in Gainesville, GA.

i'm from Habersham County. ever heard of it?

crazy small world.

Debby said...

Wow, this was a beautiful post. What your grandpa said to your daughter about seeing her grandmother again was so touching. He must be a special man. Hoping his health problems aren't serious. Your family has been through so much. I hope that mental picture will give you good thoughts.

Privet and Holly said...

Paige, I'm so glad that you shared this archived story, as I didn't "know" you {or anything about blogs} 12 short months ago. My kids call my mom Grammy, so I was mesmerized by your story from the get-go. The imagery of Caroline at the grave site is certainly special and worth holding in your heart, forever. Lovely lovely post. xx Suzanne

CCB said...

you are so gifted in sharing your thoughts and words... tears are streaming... i felt like i was there, paige! hugs to you and your precious family...

Raining Pearls said...

Paige, this was a beautiful post. I cried and often thought of my own grandmother who passed from cancer as well. Lil is looking down on you, Dan and the girls today and gently kissed you all with gentle breezes. Praying that you all feel peaceful knowing she is with Our Lord. Praying for PopPop too...
xoxo

Tracey said...

Well I think I got my cry in for the week...your beautiful writing always has a way of touching my heart and making my eyes misty! Just such a beautiful post Paige...I wish I had half of your ability to write so poetically! My husband just recently went to his father's grave for the first time since his funeral and it has been almost a year since his death...it's just not an easy thing...


Hugs ~

T

duree26 said...

Paige,
You are truly a amazing woman. You have opened your heart to many and I have grown from your words. I know I don't know you but I am thankful for finding your blog and to have this small part in your life.
Thank you,
Paige
duree26@yahoo.com

Marci @ All Things Wonderful said...

Beautiful! There are no words to express how your words move. Just lovely.

Anne Marie said...

dearest Paige.......reading this preciously captured moment of love for your Grandma is from your heart and that love streamed through your fingertips for me to read....

I am honored to be able to read this

my grandparents are in their mid-90's now, and they mean more to me than the air I breathe.....thank you for sharing your heart.......it just inspires me to keep writing what I feel

Stacey29lincoln said...

Don't you love it when you are able to take a mental snapshot and carry it with you and have it ready to 'view' just when you need to?

Sweet, sweet, thoughts!

Thank you for your kind words over at Chatting at The Sky today. I am so blessed to meet you!

Cstargel said...

Are you kidding me? How you wrote that was amazing...I totally saw the picture you painted for me! Do YOU need to write a book?

I don't know if you still feel the same about visiting the gravesite but I've always felt that way about my dad's grave. He's not there....his body is but not his spirit. I feel his presence more doing things we used to do or places we would go together.

But what a sweet sweet story of poppop....love how he kisses her picture each night.

Becky said...

So full of God's love. You are an inspiration to many. I ask God all the time to "let me remember this moment forever". Special moments that are so tender and sweet.

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