Grandma Jo passed away 8 weeks ago. She was my entire world for the past few years and the past 6 months my literally 24/7 job. I loved the hard times and the good. I thanked God again and again for the gift of His calling on my life to care for her. She lived an amazing 92 years on this earth and it was a blessing to show her love to the end the way she lived a life of love throughout all her days.
I feel an emptiness now. A kind of - "my calling is done" and I don't quite like that feeling. I know, I know, I have a wonderful family to love and care for - and I now even have more time for them. But I feel like I've lost my mission. I'll flounder, I'll cry, but that's okay. I'll also sink deep into the lap of my loving Heavenly Father for comfort and direction to heal my heart and fill the void.
Below is a letter I wrote to Grandma the day before she passed away. It's a letter I read at her memorial service and cried my way through. I thought it was time I share it with you, my loving and caring friends who have been so kind the past 8 weeks.
I sit here listening to the Lucy Show – an episode I’ve seen more times than I can count as I watch you spend your last days on this earth. I’ve dreaded this moment since I dove feet first into loving and caring for you full time almost 3 years ago. I knew this day would come but I never thought I’d feel this way as I watch you breathe your last breaths. I wish I could make you eat and drink and regain that strength so we could take walks to the corner again. There’s so much about the past 3 years that seemed so hard at the time but now I miss even the hard things so much that I wish we could go through them all again. Well, most of them! Instead I’ll just say thank you. Three summers ago our little family of 6 moved into your home to care for you. Little did I know how you would instead make us a family of 7. You became more like immediate family than my grandmother in law.
Thank you for letting me be by your side almost 24/7 for the last 3 years. Thank you for your smile that lit up the room to the very end. Thank you for loving Jesus and letting his light shine through you for so many many years. You were a Godly example of how to love well and I hope you felt loved as you closed out this life. You are dearly loved by so many family and friends. One of the many blessings over the past several months as we knew your time was coming to an end was the visitors that came to see you and how I got to hear how you greatly touched their lives. God used you immensely. Thank you for loving and serving well.
I’m honestly not sure how I’m going to continue on without you. You have become so much more to me than I ever expected. On the tough days you felt more like my own child to clean and feed and care for and on other days you were my elderly best friend. I don’t think there are many 36 year olds who can say they spend almost every waking minute with a 92 year old! It's been an honor to walk by your side moment by moment and day by day. I wouldn’t trade the time we had together for anything else. I will never ever forget the countless trips to the Dollar Tree for word search books and Walmart for more Oreos, ice cream, or orange juice and waking up at 4:30am to make your breakfast muffins before you woke up because you ran out. You were worth it all. Thank you.
To Peter, Travis, Kaylee, Daniel, and Zachary. Thank you for your endless patience as your wife and mother frequently put Grandma’s needs before yours. I know this has not been an easy few years especially for you kids. I hope you look back on our time with Grandma with fond memories and remember the many laughs we had as we all learned how to live with Gma. I pray God uses our time with Grandma in a great way in your lives as it has mine.
To Ray, Dave, Ron, and Deb. Thank you for trusting me with your mom. She loved you all very much, always talked about you, and wanted the telephone to call you all the time. There were many times I saved you from a 4:00am phone call because she didn’t realize how early in the day it was! I hope you know I cared for Gma with all my heart all the way to the end. I only wish I could have kept her around longer for you.
I’m not sure where to go from here. I’m losing a Grandmother in law who became at the end like my very own child. You will be missed, and for a very long time I’m sure I’ll be waking up running to check on you first thing in the morning or thinking I need to put you to bed before I go down for the night. I’ll wake up throughout the night wanting to check on you. Only you won’t be there. You’re in a much better place. Tell Grandpa hello – I know he’s happy to have you with him and Jesus now.