She was pale, lifeless and smelled of death as I entered the room. A mere shell of the Granny I had always known and loved. She lay unmoving, in the hospital bed hospice brought to my Mama’s home just a few weeks earlier. Her once strong, hardworking body was ravaged with cancer. Taking ragged breaths ever so often, the nurse said it wouldn’t be long now. For the past two weeks she was unconscious and kept on pain medication. We had known for a couple months that Granny was dying, but that didn’t make it any easier. The end was very near now.
My Granny was the purest, most giving, and loving person I had ever known. In all my life, I had never once heard her raise her voice or say anything unkind about anyone. She was one person I could always depend on; for encouragement, love and truth, even when the truth hurt. She had a gentle way of leading me to do the right thing, in every situation. She was truly a blessed, virtuous woman that Proverbs speaks about.
She had finally been coaxed into coming to live with my Mother about a month after Grandad passed on, eight years earlier. Only, if Mama agreed that she would help with housework and pay her own way. She wasn’t proud, she just didn’t want to burden anyone.
I remember Grandad telling stories about how she would “give folks the shirt off her back” if they needed it. They raised five children during the great depression. They lived in a three room “shotgun” house in the country just a few yards from the railroad track. As a child she and Grandad would take me out on the front porch where we would count the cars every time a train came through. Those were the simple days. We’d have an ice cold glass of sweet tea in a mason jar and a homemade biscuit with some of her canned jelly stuffed inside…..mmmm.
My Grandparents always had stories to tell. My favorite was about the hobo’s who would come to their door asking for food during the depression years. They rode the rails back in those days looking for work, for food, just looking to survive. Grandad said Granny always gave them something to eat and a scripture to take with them as they went on their way. “Doing the Lord’s work” he’d say, while lovingly patting her leg. “Oh Jack, stop that” she admonished humbly, her cheeks turning red.
She never had much in worldly possessions but it didn‘t matter to her. If she had only one piece of bread left in the house, she’d give it away to the needy.
I just couldn’t imagine going to my Mother’s house now and her not being there anymore. But as much as I hated to see her go now, I knew she was going to heaven to live in eternity with Jesus. There would be no more pain…...no more cancer there.
The hospice nurse said she’d been unconscious all day. But when I came in the room I noticed she was starting to get a little restless, like she was trying to wake up.
I walked slowly to her bedside and held her soft fragile hand “It’s alright, Granny. Your work here is done. Jesus is waiting for you. You can go home now.” I smoothed a wisp of snow white hair off her forehead. She stirred, opening her eyes slightly, looking right at me. She heard me and tried to smile. Then, her gaze turned upward. She didn’t say anything but I knew from the look in her eyes, she was seeing something I couldn‘t yet see. She was looking at heaven, at her Savior coming to take her home. Suddenly, all the pain etched in her face disappeared and she was radiant again, for one last moment in time. With a tiny squeeze of my hand, she took her last breath....and was gone.
It was almost like she was waiting for someone to tell her it was ok to go, that we would be alright when she passed on to glory. And we were, with God’s grace.
In that final moment of her death, I felt the sweetest, most overwhelming aura of peace settle in me as I watched my Granny’s soul leave her body. It was indescribable, but very real.
Granny’s work was done, but her legacy lives on, in me.
Julia, what a wonderful account of a beautiful event!! What a privilege and honor to be in the presence of a beloved saint when she enters heaven! Bless you for sharing such a lovely and tender moment in your life. Linda
A touching story. We were told by a nurse, when our beloved uncle was at death's door, that we should give him permission to die. We had kept trying to persuade him not to die, but after the nurse said that, we told him it was okay if he wanted to die. He died peacefully. That is what your granny was waiting for, too, your special permission for her to die. What a precious memory.