Saturday, July 20, 2013

our last goodbye




I've been dreading writing this post.  Been dreading going back through these photos, but I know after my Grandma passes it will be even harder, so I'm doing it now.  This one is purely for me.  I wanted to capture my thoughts.  Capture her home.  Put it all in a time capsule, because I know this visit will surely be our last.



Aside from attending my father-in-law's funeral several years ago, I'm not sure if I've ever not wanted to do anything more than the day we went down recently to see my Grandma June.  It was such a bittersweet blessing.  A chance to see her again...but a chance to see her at the end


We loaded into the car.  I had prepared the girls for our visit.  We talked about death.  Talked about saying goodbye.  I knew as hard as it was going to be that even the girls needed to be a part of it too.  This is life...the good, bad and the ugly.  So encased in nerves I tightly gripped the steering wheel, and drove at a snails pace down the old country roads that bridged the short distance from my folks house to hers in the little town of Blue Mound.





When we were at home over Christmas she was still on her feet, serving us food.  Still doing really well considering her age etc...  Over the last couple of months it's been a rapid decline.  Her kids have started taking shifts to care for her.  Bless them Lord.  She's never alone.  She's completely dependent aside from eating and goes in and out of lucidity. 


my sweet daddy...caring for his momma

When we first got there I thought my heart would literally explode from emotion. I know that's not possible, but it felt that way.  I could hardly catch my breath.  Tears were just below the surface.  One unguarded moment and they would spill and they did...


How was I going to say goodbye to this woman? This matriarch of our family.  How can this be the last time I come through these doors?  The last time I sit at her kitchen table? The last time I swing on her porch swing? 

 


Every single holiday memory is in that house.  I can instantly conjure up the smell of yeast from her famous rolls.  I can hear the grandfather clock chime.  Feel the palpable presence of family, tradition and all things familiar.  I spent countless hours playing games with cousins in the closet tucked under the staircase, swinging from the giant weeping willow tree in her beautiful backyard...playing Barbies in my dad's old bedroom. 




I remember spending nights at Grandma's house and her rolling my hair in curlers and putting me to bed without socks on. Two things I really felt uncomfortable with, but you kept quiet at Grandma's house and let her do her thing.  She was strong.  She was in charge...she was GRANDMA JUNE!


The one word that always comes to mind when I think of my Grandma is gritty.  She's gritty to the core.  Life has thrown her some really difficult situations and she's always dug in, rolled up her sleeves and done the hard things.  I so admire her for that. 


I've always felt almost famous being her granddaughter.  She's a powerhouse in that little community.  Everyone knows June.  Everyone knows the Brown's of Blue Mound.  That's a good feeling...being known.  Being proud of your heritage. 


I can't help but wonder how it will change after she's gone.  Where will we gather?  Will we get together as much? Will I lose out on connecting with that giant family and feel like a stranger?  To be honest I already do...feel like a stranger that is.  Cousins have married and remarried.  Their broods just keep getting larger and what was once contained and easy to keep track of seems impossible now.  They feel like strangers...the miles don't help.


So I took advantage of that afternoon and I explored every nook and cranny.  I took pictures of everything that meant anything to me at all and tried to ingrain it in my memory. 





Remembering the woman that I love...the woman that had a part in making me.  Remembering the little things that made her June.



So we said our final goodbyes, as hard as it was, and as I got ready to leave she grabbed me around the neck and gave me a hard hug.  She knew it was our last goodbye.  That hug was rare and beautiful and made me feel loved to my toes....and as she pulled me close I thought we were going to have those final special last words.  My ears were pricked and my breath caught for a minute and then she whispered to me...that medicine they just gave me tasted like liquid fire.  Oh my goodness...Grandma...my sweet gritty Grandma.  I love you!  YOU are like liquid fire...and saying goodbye to you hurt so badly, but I know we'll meet again in heaven.  I know that I know! 




Be a blessing.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
having grace to do hard things
people who serve
being blessed with the chance to say goodbye
the assurance of heaven and being reunited
heritage...family...my Grandma June
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