I truly feel that I'm being tested right now. We all go through chapters in our lives that we wonder why things are so challenging and why there just isn't enough time in our day to get everything done, let alone done well. It's often during these overwhelming periods that we find ourselves being faced with obstacles, tragedies, and downfalls. Unfortunately, my time of being tested must have reached it peak. I got the call last night saying my grandmother passed away.
My grandma was the most delightful, loving, loyal, and sweet woman you'd ever know and I like to think I got a tiny bit of her unique light she shed on those who were lucky enough to know her. So many memories of spending time with both her and my Grandpa have been going through my mind today...summers on the Lake Jewitt in Minnesota, horseback riding (and breaking my arm!) on the farm in Council Bluffs, IA, delicious breakfasts every single morning we stayed with them in Colorado...nothing but smiles have come up on my face as these moments speed through my head.
Since my Grandpa's accident 6 years ago (it happened right after our wedding, nearly 6 years to the day, when he was hit from behind by an out-of-control older driver and pinned between his car and her's...both legs were amputated and he almost died from a diabetes-induced coma), my Grandma's aphasia (a mental deterioration similar to Alzheimer's) took a rapid downhill turn and never really looked back. It's been a tough few years, especially for my Grandpa and my mother, so some feelings of relief are also flooding through our entire family. I'm doing my best to think of the millions of wonderful memories of healthy days instead of the few years of illness she experienced recently, as a way to honor her. You have no idea how many amazing pictures I have of me as a kid on adventures with my fun-loving grandparents...its probably for the best that I don't have a scanner!
So, I've already been struggling with optimism of late and this was a rather crushing blow, even if it was expected. However, I take comfort knowing my Grandpa can sleep soundly tonight knowing that his love of 62 years is at peace. It's hard to type a sentence like that and not tear up. I'll leave you with some images of my beautiful Grandpa, Beth, from the last 6 years:
At my wedding, while her illness was still quite manageable and before my Grandpa's accident. This is one of the last photo's we have of him without his wheelchair. A cherished memory:
This is a self-timer pic taken on New Year's Eve before 2009. That day, Jonathan and I had found out we were pregnant (SURPRISE!). We weren't ready to tell anyone, but we'd stopped down into town to see my grandparents one more time before heading back home the next day. The last thing my Grandpa said as Jonathan and I walked out the door was, "I'd better get a call about babies soon from you two!" and we just couldn't close the door fast enough before we broke into giggles! I know that baby talk was really coming from my Grandma, but since aphasia destroys one's ability to communicate (its not so much about memory loss as it is about communication - processing words, speaking, writing, etc), he did most of the talking for her over the last few years. I'll never forget that night. So special for me!
Meeting Bridget for the first time in October 2009. Though she was already in pretty poor mental health, she was determined to come down to Texas to meet her first and only great-grandchild. What a special time for me and my mom:
Her sister, Catherine, traveled with her on that 2009 trip (her last one to Texas) to make sure my mom had a helper on hand. No matter how bad of an aphasia day Grandma was having, her sister always knew exactly what to say to calm her down. Though Catherine was in impeccable health for a woman in her 80's, we lost her suddenly this Spring when she passed peacefully in her sleep. We knew that was a very difficult loss for my Grandma:
Bridget's first visit to Colorado for Christmas in 2009. This was my Grandpa's first chance to meet her, but my Grandma wanted all the snuggles for herself :) Seeing the joy a child can bring to such a sad situation is truly remarkable. I really believe that Bridget breathed a little bit more life into both my grandparents each time they got to see her. I'm lucky to have these memories of my baby with them, as well as having them at my wedding, since neither of my sisters will get those chances. I really am blessed.
So, hard times but I'm glad she's finally at peace. Now to go sneak into Bridget's room for a little middle of the night hug for Mommy. Bridget snuggles always make everything better. Thanks for your thoughts.