Life lessons

by Andrea Powell, HPCCR Electronic Communications Manager

Gran'mom and mom

My grandmother and my mom on Gran’mom’s birthday

I had planned on sharing a really great, heart-warming hospice patient story with you all today.  But then I found out that my grandmother died this morning.  So I’ve switched gears just a little.  I think this will still turn out to be a heart-warming read, so don’t worry about getting all sad.  I promise that the really great story will come next week.  And I promise that you’ll really love it.

My grandmother turned 103 years old one week ago today.  So her passing was not a huge surprise to us.  In fact, we’ve been somewhat prepared for almost three years.  But she was always a tricky little thing; she pretty much had the same pattern during this “watchful” time — “Ok, she’s in bad shape (might be a good time to call in the family)” and then, “Oh wait, she’s better!”  My grandmother has had more rebounds than the Charlotte Bobcats.  But today that pattern ended.  And while we’re all a little tearful, at the same time, we’re a bit relieved as well.  We are profoundly happy that she is no longer bound by the difficulties of an aging body and mind.

Gran’mom was fortunate that she could, and did, plan for the end of her life.  She was a very religious woman who knew her time was limited.  So her funeral service is all planned — she had chosen the hymns and the readings, she had decided who would carry the casket.  With her affairs in order, all we have to do now is carry out her wishes.  That, in itself, is an enormous gift to her family. 

We had her 103rd birthday party last Saturday down in Chester, SC.  Our family is not too spread out across the region so, luckily, a lot of us were able to make it.  I’m not sure how many of us she was able to recognize and I’m pretty sure she couldn’t see or hear us very well, but she knew we were celebrating her and she loved every second of it.  She smiled and nodded as the birthday song was sung and she kissed the hands of anyone standing near her.  If nothing else, it is a huge comfort to know she was surrounded by her devoted family a mere four days before she died.  We should all be so lucky.

In her last days, her speech was pretty much reduced to two sentences: “I love you, I love you, I love you” (always in threes!) and “God Bless you”.  But last night (so I’m told), she rallied one last time.  My uncle decided that the nursing home meal would just not do, so he went out and bought her a drumstick and all the fixings from KFC.  They apparently had a good conversation and she ate very well.  I have to think that for a good ole southern gal, fried chicken and mashed potatoes probably made her happier than just about anything else.

There are some poignant lessons I take away from my grandmother’s last days.  Never be scared to prepare for the end.  Always tell your loved ones how you feel.  Or kiss them if you can’t.  Celebrate your family.  And enjoy every last bite of life.

I love you, I love you, I love you, Gran’mom.  God bless you.

Explore posts in the same categories: awareness, blog, end of life, grief

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10 Comments on “Life lessons”

  1. Michelle Seymour Says:

    Oh wow…that was just perfect. So proud of your grace my friend. And I love the photo!! Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2013 20:03:43 +0000 To: michellemseymour@hotmail.com

  2. Samantha Says:

    what a meaningful story about a great and long life. thank you for sharing!

  3. Mildred Says:

    While I am extremely sorry for your loss, I am also in awe of the loving bond your Gran’mom shared with you all. I believe that outside of love, the highest and most honorable gift you can leave someone is a blessing. You my dear are a blessed woman. May you find strength in the legacy of love and blessings from your dear GranMom.

  4. Anngie Williams Says:

    I am soooo sorry for your loss. I am praying for you and your family but this story is so heart warming. I love your advice about planning for the end and not being afraid of that. What a blessing to be able to say everything you need to say to your loved one before they pass away. God Bless you!!!!!

  5. ABP Says:

    That IS a great and heartwarming story. A 103rd birthday party followed by KFC. What a great way to remember your Gran’mom, along with all the wonderful childhood memories you speak of in Chester. What a blessing to have had this strong and beautiful woman in your lives. Thanks for sharing with us.

  6. lgf3 Says:

    Beautiful! Blessings to you and your family.

  7. Pj Brunson Says:

    A fitting tribute, Andrea. She sounds like an incredible lady. You are a beautiful reflection of her life as well. God bles you and yours. PJ

  8. Bonnie Emadi Says:

    Andrea, so glad your grandma had such a good life and wonderful family. You are all very fortunate to have each other. Your story is so sweet. Thank you for sharing.

    bonnie

  9. Beth Thompson Says:

    Andrea, I am sorry for your family’s loss. It’s always hard to say goodbye to those we love. Your story was a beautiful tribute to your grandmother. It sounds like she went out just the way she wanted – KFC and all!

  10. Lawler, Carol Says:

    Was a beautiful column ~ Thank you – I am a little behind in my reading.


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