She waited for me

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you might remember that a year ago last February, I flew out of state to attend my grandmother’s 90th birthday celebration. It’s a BIG deal to turn 90, and though she tried to convince her family that she didn’t want the attention, she really enjoyed seeing people come out to show her how much she was loved (lots and lots of people came).

I drove my kids out to Utah last summer because they hadn’t been in several years, and I wanted them to have a feel for what my childhood summers consisted of. My grandma lives on 5 acres with a red barn, and since I can remember, has had horses roaming the field–most recently, my uncles’ horses.I remember finding gum in the drawer of the RV in the barn, being taunted by my cousins to touch the electric animal fence, wading through the flooded backyard due to irrigating, ping pong in the basement, picking fresh raspberries, and swinging from the tire swing in her yard.

farm

Since my kids are such city kids, it was fun to share with them a little bit of country that I call my roots. My uncle is a cowboy–ropes in rodeo’s and such. They got to hug my grandma–their great grandma–and wander her home and slide down her laundry shoot to the basement.

Just two months ago around Thanksgiving, my dad told me that my grandma fell and broke her pelvis. I suddenly felt an instant urging to go visit her. When my medically trained husband informed me that when elderly break their hips, heart failure generally occurs, and they often go downhill from there.

I felt several urgings to book a ticket from Texas to Utah to visit my grandma. She went into the hospital a few different times, and with the holidays, a date just never seemed to work to fly out. I had faith she’d still be fine to visit after the holidays. I talked to her on the phone about once a week, and she’d say, “Krissy, how are those cute kids of yours?” She’d get short of breath after a minute or two and we’d say goodbye. When I realized my parents were going out for a visit, I thought I’d tag along for just 2 days, so that I didn’t have to rely on others to get me around town. A week and a half ago, I found an amazing deal ($250) to fly out for just 2 days. I booked it right way, then shortly thereafter realized I booked it for the weekend AFTER my parents were going to be there.

Ugh, what to do? I could go later in February, her health had stabled out. She was doing well, and I felt anxiety about my uncle, cousin, whomever to pick me up at the airport and tote me around. Maybe I wanted the crutch of my parents being there, too. Who knows. My sweet  husband urged me to just go, because I’d never find a perfect time to go.

I flew into Salt Lake City last Sunday, the 20th of January, and got to my grandma’s assisted living facility around 7pm. I’d heard from my dad, uncle, cousin, that she was so excited that I was coming to visit. I entered her cute little room (smaller than my dorm room) to see her watching TV in her recliner, and it made me happy. She carefully stood up, and we gave each other a big hug. Still short of breath, and with the oxygen tube in her nose that I’d become accustomed to the past few years, she said she wanted to show me the fireplace out in the common area, to keep me warm, she was worried about my Texas blood.

grandma

We walked out to the fireplace, and she wanted to sit on the stone hearth to get extra warm, and I cozied up next to her on the couch, holding her hand (though mine were cold) as we talked. Grams introduced me to the elderly friends she’d made in the past few weeks (until Thanksgiving, she was living unassisted at her home of 50 years), told me about the staff, and asked me about my kids. She said she wanted to see a picture of the front of my house because she’d never been to this one. I searched through my phone and couldn’t find one, but I showed her pictures on there of my kids at Christmas, Halloween, and other random pics. We even rang up my fam in Texas and had a little Facetime session with them. She mostly just watched at the craziness that is my home life unfolded, but the kids were excited to show off for her. “Krissy, they have a lot of energy, don’t they?” she mentioned.

iphone

While we sat out by the fireplace, a nurse came to check her oxygen levels on her finger with a little clippy device. She mentioned it was low, but no one seemed to be overly concerned. My uncle put her oxygen tank on continual flow (it normal puffs every 10 seconds), and they figured they should get her to bed. He and I were coming early the next morning to take her for a doctor’s visit. We hugged as we parted at about 8:30 with plans to see her bright and early.

I slept well in the warm bed at my Aunt and Uncle’s home amidst below freezing temperature’s outside. I set my alarm for 7:30am, and at 7:15, my uncle opens the door, and as I sat up all confused, he told me Grams had passed away. “Are you serious?” very disoriented from the abrupt awakening, “I wouldn’t joke about something like this” he said in his standard Uncle Mean country lilt. I said I’d be ready in 2 minutes.

Still dark outside, he and I drove the 5 miles from his home to her care facility. My aunt wasn’t ready yet, and he didn’t want to wait for her. He’s lived down the road from his mother his entire adult life, and in the past years, has cared for her daily. My uncle is a tough cowboy, but he and I–we get each other. I’ve always called him Uncle Mean because as kid, I thought he was MEAN! As an adult, I see how much his outer gruffness has softened, and no better example than on this morning as we drove to see for our own eyes that she really had passed away. Through tears, I told Uncle Mean how wonderful he had been to take care of her, and to be her steady rock through all of this. He pushed it away as something that was no big deal. We shed some tears, and we laughed a little telling stories as we slid on the icy roads to Grams most recent home.

As we walked up, we met up with my dad’s sister and her husband (grandma had 3 kids). At that moment, I felt happy that I could represent my dad a little. He spent the previous week at her side, her near constant companion, but went back home a few days before.We were the family that lived far away, my other cousins grew up knowing Grams well. I never knew her like they did.

We stepped into her room, and it all became a reality. She was peacefully resting. It was only then that the staff informed us that someone heard Grams stirring at 5:30am, getting ready for the day since she was up and couldn’t sleep. They asked if she needed help, and she assured them that she was fine. Then checked again at 6am, and she had passed. The timing was shocking to us all, but also a blessing. Her body was failing her, and decisions had to be made that no one wanted to make (in the weeks before). She worried about a slow and painful death, and she was blessed that it was quick. She spoke with or saw everyone she loved in the days/weeks before, and I do believe….that she waited for me.

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Comments

  1. My condolences to you and your family. The timing of your visit was certainly more than a coincidence wasn’t it? Enjoy the wonderful memories of your grandmother.

  2. Our condolences to your family Kristen. I am glad you had an opportunity to be there.
    Lots of hugs to you all

  3. I believe it too. I am so sorry she passed, but at least your family can have comfort knowing she didn’t suffer, and that she’s in Heaven now.

  4. I am so sorry for your loss – it is never easy to lose a family member. Sending love and prayers to your entire family during this time. I’m glad you were able to be with her the night before.

  5. May God bless, hug and comfort you and your family during this time… yours was a beautiful relationship.

  6. I look at her sweet face in that first photograph and am reminded of my own grandmother, who passed away a decade ago. Grandmas are something special. I’m so glad you had that time with her … it’s so clear that she DID wait for you.

    How beautiful. God bless and keep you. xo

  7. i’m so very sorry for your loss kristen. i’m glad you made the decision to go and you got to see her. i have a very similar story although it didn’t require flying to get there but i made a decision quickly to leave work and see my grandpa one night. he was very sick and he passed that night. i thank god all the time that i went when i did. big hugs.

  8. I am so sorry for your loss. She absolutely waited for you. Treasure your last memories and the lifetime of memories you have of your sweet grandmother. My prayers are with you and your family.

  9. I am so sorry for your loss, Kristen. This is a wonderfully written post. Hugs to you and yours during this difficult time.

  10. What a beautiful post and way to honor and remember your Grandma. How great it was that you were able to spend that time with her and capture it! Sending you warm thoughts and prayers as you say goodbye for now.

  11. What a blessing and a beautiful experience. I am so glad that you did what you did and that you took the time to chat with your kids and be there with her. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Funny how things work (ticket date mix-up) but I’m so glad you went too. So sorry to hear about your grandma, but I believe that she did wait for you. Hugs and prayers to you and your family.

  13. Donna Anderson says:

    Kristen, this is such a touching story. It’s wonderful that you were able to see your grandmother before she passed and have such fun memories to warm you heart. My sympathies to you and your family.
    Donna

  14. disneychamp says:

    That is such a sweet story, your gram held on just long enough to give you and your family one final gift before her departure. She must’ve lived a wonderful life. So glad you made this trip.

  15. Oh Kristen, I’m crying!
    This is actually such a sweet story. I’m so glad you were able to be there.

  16. This is a very touching post. I am so happy for you that she waited for you. This made me miss my own grandparents and sad to realize that my children didn’t really ever know them. I pray that you and your family feel comfort in your time of loss and hope for a joyous reunion someday.

  17. Prayers for your family during this time. Grandmas are such a blessing and I know you are so thankful for your and the time you had with her.

  18. Jacqueline says:

    What a sweet story. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  19. That is such a special story, and you have recorded it so well. I am in tears! You are blessed to have such a loving family, and your Grams was blessed too.

  20. What a beautiful blog post. I’m so sorry to hear of your grandmother’s passing. I love the title — b/c it truly is how I felt when my grandfather passed away — he waited for me to come before he passed. {{hugs}}

  21. What a blessing that you could be there! I was laying next to my grandfather when he passed and it is something I will forever be greatful for.

    ((Hugs)) my friend!

  22. Oh Kristen I am so sorry! I’m glad that you were able to spend some time with her.

  23. I am sorry for your loss. I hope that it comforts you to know that you were there so she could see you one last time.

  24. this is such a sweet post. thanks for sharing. hugs to you and your fam!

  25. this was such a special post. I’m currently road tripping with my family to Texas and trying not to cry. you are a great person and it is wonderful you were there for her. thank you for sharing!

  26. And I’m in tears, such a sweet sweet post! So glad you got to see her one last time. I’m sorry for your loss! xo

  27. Such a beautiful story! I’m so glad you had a chance to see her again before she passed.
    My Grandma suffered a debilitating stroke.
    She was not happy to be trapped in a deteriorating body.
    She too was a very independent woman who stayed in her own home into her 90′s.
    The last thing I said to her was, “I’ll see you on the other side.”
    She smiled at me. I miss her but I know I will see her again and for that knowledge I am truly thankful!
    May you & your family hang on to that knowledge as you travel through your grief…

  28. How wonderful that you were able to have such a sweet time with her!

  29. Kristen I’m so sorry about your grandmother. I’m so happy you were able to see her and sending lots of prayers your way!

  30. Kristen, I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am for your loss. Through your words, I feel like I knew a little part of your Grams too, and I can feel a little of the pain of losing her. It is amazing, though, that you were able to be there and share her last night with her. Thanks for sharing her story. I love how you put your heart into each and every blog post, and that is what makes me love reading it. :) Miss you, dear friend.

  31. Oh Kristen! I started crying reading this. My Grandma waited for me too. The story is so very similar. I was on my way when my other 2 grandparents died so getting to see one before she died meant the world to me as I know it did you.

    I am so sorry for your loss but hope you find comfort in knowing that she is no longer in pain and in a better place. Hugs!

  32. I’m so glad she waited for you. What a special experience for you. I cried as I read your post and I appreciate you sharing it.

  33. So sorry for your loss. What a blessing that you were able to spend that last night with her.

  34. I LOVED reading this Kristen. I am so glad you got to spend that extra time with her one last time. Thank you for sharing this with us! Hugs!

  35. Deb Keprio says:

    Praying for you and your entire family. What a touching story and what a blessed life she had to have family so near and to care for her. We care for my 92 year old grandmother so this really makes me tear. Thanks for sharing this….

  36. kimberly jones says:

    Thinking of you and your family during this time. I glad that you have the perspective that you do. It will give you some peace. It’s never easy but peace is a nice thing to have. ~hugs.

  37. What a sweet memory to have. Hugs and prayers.

  38. I am in tears right now. I don’t know you besides your blog but am so glad you got to see her one last time. May peace be with you and your family.

  39. Wow Kristen! That was such a touching story!! I knew what was going to be at the end of it because I even opened my email. I am so sorry for your loss! I cannot even imagine what that’s like! But I am glad she waited for you and you were able to see her one last time and say your goodbyes.

  40. What a beautiful post, Kristen!

    My deepest condolences to you and your family – I’m so glad you had this chance to be with her one last time!

  41. I am so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful story. I can tell how much you loved each other. Thanks for sharing.

  42. So sorry for your loss. I am happy you were able to get up here and see her one last time. My Grandma is at that same facility, I recognize the fire place. I wonder if they were friends. I will go visit my grandma and find out.

  43. What a precious reunion before you can meet again. I’m so glad you were able to see her again and have that really great time together. I’m thinking of you, and thank you for sharing.

  44. Raelene Hill says:

    Very well done, great tribute, thanks so much.

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