My dear grandmother went to be with Jesus this morning at 7:30. I had been praying for Him to call her home all night after my sister and I went to visit her in hospice care around 10:00 p.m. It was awful; her lungs had filled with fluid because she refused to take her medicine, and she was essentially- slowly, devastatingly- drowning. The sound of her fighting for every breath was heart-wrenching. The nurses said she wasn't in any pain, but… I don't know. I just wanted it to stop- for her sake. But the thought of her being alone in her final hours hurt more. Our brother showed up at around 10:30, and our parents around 11:00. We were all there to say goodbye. There to kiss her on the cheek one last time. We left shortly before midnight, and then we all went home and waited for the news that we both welcomed and feared. I didn't sleep a wink last night.
I don't remember life before Mum Mum. She had lived with my parents and I since I was four years old. I grew up and became the woman I am today because of her influence in my life. When I saw her for the last time last night, I was flooded with happy memories from my childhood that I had long since forgotten about. I shared all of them with her and knew she could hear me because she tried to respond. I made sure that she knew how much I loved her.
When I was three, before she lived with us, I used to get so excited to go see Mum Mum at her apartment and take her out to the fountain to look for goldfish. I remember one Halloween when my parents took me to the drug store for my costume, and we headed straight over to Mum Mum's, knocked on her door and she opened it and said, "Well my goodness, where did you come from?" and I said, "Skagg's." Ha! I remember playing with her ceramic leopard and trying on her shoes and her jewelry and playing on her reclining board and watching Nick at Nite with her. Our favorite show was Mr. Ed. I would sit on the back of the couch behind her and put velcro rollers in her hair. Every night before I went to bed, I would bring in my stuffed dog Henry, and she would sit him on her lap and I would ask him all kinds of silly questions, and she would nod his head yes or no, and I would giggle uncontrollably. I took Henry along on our visit last night, and happily she was not alone in her final moments because he was with her :) Sometimes I would drink water straight out of the gallon jugs she kept in her room and she never minded. I would run around the dining room table and say to her, "Chase me, Mum Mum! Chase me!" She would pick me up from school every day and take me to Smitty's and buy me a custard-filled donut- my favorite. She loved to drink Instant Breakfast, so naturally I did, too. When we went out and about on the weekends with Mom and Dad, Mum Mum and I would sit in the back seat and she would tap her fingers on the seat to the music. I've always done that, and now I know why. She used to feed filet mignon to our family dog, Muffin- my, how she loved that little dog! She is finally with her again :) When I got older, we would go to the mall together. And boy, when I turned into a bratty teenager, did we ever fight. But she never made me feel unloved. She always, always reminded me that she loves me unconditionally. She always told me that we shared a special bond, and we did- right to the very end. When I visited her in hospice over the weekend, even though she was confused and intensely medicated, she greeted me with a huge smile. She mixed up a lot of other people, but she always knew me for some reason. I will never forget her saying to me, "Oh, my Andrea, you lit up the room when you walked in! Seeing you makes me so happy." Whatever floats your boat, Mum Mum 🙂
I hated to see how gradually and yet suddenly her physical and mental health declined. She just started to fall apart and it was heartbreaking- not only for her but for my parents who, bless their hearts, worked tirelessly to care for her over the past several years. It goes without saying that they sacrificed a lot for her sake and I won't lie and say that there isn't a part of all of us that is relieved that they are free to enjoy their retirement years now- and I am certain that Mum Mum would want that. After 95 years of life, and a very rough past couple of years… it was simply time.
But the difficulties are not what I'm going to choose to remember, even though they're the most fresh in my mind. I am going to remember everything good about her. I will do my best to live my life with no regrets because even after 95 years, she would tell me that life is incredibly short, that time just flew by and she could hardly believe she had made it that far. Even before her death, I had decided to forgive, to do what I could to right wrongs, to make life count, to love unconditionally, to give without expectations, to make the most of my time with the people I love as long as I am blessed to experience it. Honestly, to choose any less than that would be nothing short of pathetic. I praise God for the example He gave me in our dear Mum Mum- one that I will try my best to carry on for my own daughter and her kids someday.
Every night, even into my adult years, she would say to me, "Who loves ya, baby?" She got a kick out of Kojak and his lollipops. And I would kiss her on her hand and we would blow each other kisses and catch them. And I would say back, "Who loves ya, Mum Mum?" Well, there's no question about that. We will all miss you for the rest of our days. But the good news is, we will see you again. The glory, wholeness and love you must be experiencing now no doubt pales in comparison to anything you experienced on earth. And for that, I will forever be grateful.
It really was OK to let go of this life, wasn't it, Mum Mum? You had a good run at it. And my goodness… look how beautiful you were.
Who loves ya, Mum Mum?
Helen Mae Eiler, 1914-2010
Arise and be comforted
For the Lord, He is good to the weary
And even the young heart can tire and fall
But He knows them all
For the Lord, He will renew their strength
And they will soar on wings as eagles
And they will run and never grow weary
They will walk and not grow faint
For the Lord, He is good
Lift your eyes to the heavens
For the creator is living in you
Come surrender as you are
And know that you'll never stray too far
Let His power within you heal your heart
Lift your eyes to spacious skies
Let Him chart your way to flight
Spread your wings and fly
For the Lord, He is good
~Arise and Be Comforted by Watermark
(If you are a family member or friend, share a favorite memory or your favorite thing about Mum Mum! I would love to hear what you have to say, and I'm sure everyone else would too 🙂