By Sky Walden, Submissions Manager
Food and family are two of the greatest gifts, especially together. Personally, I’ve been thinking about family more than ever lately. In May, we found out my grandma had four brain tumors and would be passing away soon. It’s been eight weeks, and we don’t know how much longer we have with her.
All of my life, my Grandma Ruth has been the best hostess anyone could ask for. She often arranged family get-togethers. She’d serve us ham on holidays. There was always enough food to go around, and not only that, but there was love. She’d ask if you wanted anything, and she was always, always happy to give it: soda, iced tea, Capri Suns, you name it. She was so generous and giving. She still is.
I remember being young and eating Honey Grahams at my grandma’s house. I haven’t eaten Honey Grahams in years, but when I think about these memories, sometimes I can still taste them. Grandma would always arrange girls’ lunches so that her daughters and granddaughters could get together and enjoy each other’s company. I have so many fond memories of sitting around tables at Village Inn or Applebee’s and laughing together. Today, I’d give anything to have more girls’ lunches.
Grandma’s generosity surpassed even food. She was loving, generous, and incredibly giving of her time. She was exuberant and joyful and always loved life intensely. I look back now, and I can’t believe how precious her personality has been. While I’m glad she’s going to a better place, it’s going to be incredibly hard to lose her.
A few weeks ago, she was able to sit up and talk to us. We had so many precious conversations with her. Even though her physical and mental states are deteriorating, I can still see glimpses of her personality. When she was more coherent, she’d ask me every time I went to visit her what time I got up that day. She asked me to sit with her at dinner several weeks ago, and even shoved her own cheeseburger in my face to make sure I had enough to eat. On that same visit, she bribed me with a cookie. On another visit, she asked a bunch of times if we had eaten. It’s amazing how attentive she is, even when she herself is on the verge of passing away.
So many of these memories are precious to me because Grandma’s health has gone downhill so fast. Currently, she’s sleeping a lot, and it’s not as easy to communicate with her. She’s not talking much, but when she does, it is almost always to say “I love you” or to talk about God’s goodness, love, and grace. She has told us that our relationship with God is all that matters. Even now, in the last days of her life, Grandma trusts God so much, and she can’t wait to be home with Him. She talks about “Glory” and getting to heaven. She is really excited, to the point of even being disappointed that she hasn’t gone yet.
Even though she’s completely bedridden, she still knows how to praise God. On July 4th, our family gathered around her bedside and sang hymns to her. Though she seemed to be completely asleep, she lifted her hands up to praise. Most recently, she told us that God goes with her when she rests. He is her everything, and He has been with her through all of this. Everything has been stripped away to the bare bones of her faith: just her and God. It’s been incredible to see that. In the end, Jesus is all that matters. Grandma and her beautiful relationship with God have reminded me that I don’t have to worry about anything else.
I have to admit that even in the midst of the joyful moments, this has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through. Some days the pain is too hard to express. I don’t know how the world is going to function without Grandma; I don’t know how I will. I’m going to miss her so much. All I can do is hold on to every moment like it’s precious gold, and that’s what I try to do. I’m clinging to the memories and the laughter in this; holding onto it for dear life. I’m trying to live the best I can with the moments I do have left with Grandma. One of my favorite quotes currently is by Jack London, and I’ve held onto it as much as I can, along with the memories. It’s something I repeat over and over again when it’s too hard to breathe.
“I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.”
― Jack London
Honestly, death is the worst and there’s no way for me to put a positive spin on it. I don’t even want to. It genuinely wounds and destroys. I’m not happy about this. It’s hard for me to even write this article; it hurts too much. But I have to say this: the one comfort I’ve found in this is that Grandma has Jesus and she is going to be with Him. Singing to her and hearing her talk about heaven and Jesus have meant the world to me. In the midst of the pain, I am holding on desperately to the time I have had with her.
In the midst of transition with our home church, these experiences with Grandma’s faith have helped me to remember we are the church. Fellowshipping with her has been a precious gift, even if it’s just sitting by her bedside holding her hand. At our last visit, we talked about heaven. She is so excited to see Jesus and walk around with him that it brings me to tears. Her steadfastness and love for Jesus touches my heart and has reminded me that there’s more beyond this life.
Even though she’s not eating anymore, I’m breaking bread with her in spirit, and I’m incredibly grateful for the way she’s leading us all to eternity right along with her.