(*Please excuse the screenshot pics... #computerproblems)
I have not been able to blog for awhile... but it's nights like tonight, where this blog turns into more than just a keepsake or scrapbook, or a place to share with family and friends. Tonight it serves as my outlet. My place to share a hurt inside that I knew would come ... one day... but now that it's here, I want to push reverse on the life remote and bask in "the good ole days."
Last night, a little after 10pm, I got word that my Grandma Bartlett had a stroke, and by the sounds of it ... it was bad. After a second phone call, of urgency that she would not be coming out of this, I threw on some clothes and drove to Cullman.
That drive.... while it was hard. I am thankful for it. I had two hours to weep, think, and cry over a person that I love so dearly.
Just this past week, grandpa and grandma called while I was bringing groceries into the house, and I missed it. As soon as I realized I had missed their call, I phoned back... and heard a very sad grandpa on the other line. He said he called to thank me for the Chickfila gift card that we had included in our present at Christmas, but I quickly knew that was not it (and once again realized he has a killer memory!). I asked about grandma... and his voice began to crack. Oh how at that moment I wished all I had to do was run up the one hill that separated our homes and give him a hug. He just said that grandma was not doing good, and she was talking about going home constantly...
She has been talking about "going home" for awhile now. Much like her sister, Mildred and Dean. You see Alzheimer's is a strong trait in her (our) family... one that Dean's daughter is documenting and starting a forum to help others cope with this terrible disease.( Find https://www.mommahasalzheimers.com and follow Paula Jean and their amazing story.)
Of course, I called Jon as soon as we finished talking, and he was able to go over and catch up with them for an hour or so... medicine to their soul I know.
That day... as I hung up the phone, I cried. I cried because I knew the time was coming, I cried because I hurt for my grandfather who loves her so, I cried because our time was coming to an end with grandma in it. And then what does God do... but plant hope and beauty...
This butterfly sat with me inches from it for about 10 minutes... Grandma filled my mind as I watched this beautiful sign from above.
While on the drive to Cullman to tell Grandma goodbye,
I was able to reminisce.
I have memories of rolling around in her living room floor with Jon and our cousins, Adam, Amy, Tyler, and Drew and having to watch The Days of Our Lives while we ate lunch at the kitchen counter. :)
I vividly remember grandma picking me up from the bus stop when I was in elementary school before we were old enough to stay alone. She would often be on the four wheeler (until that one time when we flipped it, and she was sent to the hospital with a broken wrist!).
I remember often joining in on grandma and grandpa's Hardee's breakfast morning with all their retired friends at 7am in the summer months while mom and dad went to work.
I have long scar stretching down my right shin because I because I decided to ride down her red brick front porch steps.
I can taste the Kraft mac-n-cheese summer lunches (Vienna sausage with peanut butter, if cousin Adam was there) to feed all the cousins quickly and happily.
I can hear the laughter on her front porch while we watch dad, Uncle Greg, Uncle Herm and Adam putting on our 4th of July fireworks display in the front yard... and then having to pick up all the bottle rocket casings the next morning.
I can taste her famous chicken and dressing and chicken and dumplings (which Tyler and I fight over till this day.)... and then there were the desserts. My favorites were homemade strawberry ice cream, and her strawberry dessert pizza.
I can smell the honeysuckles growing behind her little house where my brother and I would pick and eat "the honey" once spring arrived and I remember picking and eating the sweetest muscadines from their backyard in the summer.
And through these childhood memories... I gathered why I loved her so much. Why EVERYONE loves her so much... why, although Alzheimer's took most of her memory before this day, all who loved her will have a hole in their heart when she passes,...
She put herself second. maybe third... often rock bottom. The verse "He must increase, but I must decrease" John 3:30 immediately comes to mind... she exemplifies that proclamation.
In all my days, I watched her do nothing to glorify herself. Instead, I watched her serve her family, friends, and lift others up. I NEVER ever heard her say a bad word about anyone. She would always be the listener, just laugh, shake her head, and study you intently... all while never passing judgment, and making you feel heard, understood, and loved. I know what you're thinking... HOW is she human? :)
She had the patience of Jesus. Seriously... we packed 100,000 million people into her and grandpa's small home every Christmas of my life... and I never saw her get flustered.
She handmade blankets for her GREAT grandchildren... and tucked them away long before they were ever in the picture... most likely knowing that Alzheimer's would take away her ability to crochet.
And despite this terrible disease, she taught us all something in her illness. She is showing us there is HOPE and BEAUTY in the end. She is made whole, has her memory, and is just waiting to fix us chicken and dumplings when we meet her there.
She was a Proverbs 31 woman... who was worth far more than rubies.
I promise myself that I will strive to be like her. "Decreasing" to let Jesus shine right though, is the model she has set before me. Giving me hope in what's to come.
I pray I make you proud, grandma.
You are" who I want to be like when I grow up," and
I can't imagine being any more lucky to have snagged you as my grandmother.
So we "honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."
Go in peace sweet grandma... for you have heard "Job well done."