Archive for April, 2008


My Mamaw

Mom, Aunt Judy and Mamaw

My grandmother died last Tuesday a.m., and her passing has rattled me in a way that she would not have understood. After funerals in the past, my grandmother, one of the most genuinely generous and giving people I’ve ever known, was downright pragmatic about the last stage of life. She tended many sick people until their dying day. It was her nature to lavish them with time and with flowers from her garden. And when their life on Earth ended, she saw the scene for what it was. That person was no longer with us. My Mamaw moved on, quickly, and maybe that’s why she could care for so many people with such great attention.

The only thing that kept me from being more of a blubbering mess than I was at her funeral was the fact that she would have considered my reaction to be somewhat impractical. But when you are a grandchild who gets exquisitely loved the way we were, you are bound to go through withdrawal. I did not inherit my grandmother’s ability to see things clearly for what they are. I do tend to know, however, when I have it good and when I don’t. And now that she’s gone, I, along with a whole lot of other people, don’t have it as good as we did.

By accident I ended up traveling to Arkansas and visiting with her the weekend before she died. She had broken a hip the month before. Dementia had progressed, and it was apparent that her future in this world would be spent in a nursing home.

Mom and I spent the afternoon with her that Friday. When we arrived we found her in the activity room where someone had rolled her in her chair. She sat by herself, listening to a little bluegrass band that had come to play – a mother and her two sons who were probably fourteen and seventeen years old. Their sister and a friend drew crayon flowers on copy paper and handed them out to the residents gathered around.

We sat with Mamaw while they played. A few days earlier she had stopped speaking, eating and drinking, but somehow she was still there. And I knew she would only be there for as long as she needed to be. Mamaw never dawdled. She patted my hand and pulled my head to her. She pointed over and over to a flower that one of the girls had drawn for her. She clapped occasionally during hymns, and mom and I sang so she could hear them better. Sometimes she raised her hands.

I have always had a lot for which to thank God, but rarely have I been so grateful as I was that day for the chance to sit with my grandmother and help her celebrate with this sweet band as she took a few more steps toward heaven.

After we left her at the nursing home, Mom took me over to show me what would have been Mamaw’s new apartment had she not broken her hip. It was cozy, and we were kind of sad she didn’t get to stay with her friends at River Oaks Village longer. And had my Mamaw heard us, she not only wouldn’t have understood; she would have laughed out loud.

(The picture above is my Mamaw this past Christmas with my Mom on the right and my Aunt Judy on the left. Both of her daughters, as well as the rest of her family made sure she had visits and lots of love every day. They learned well from her.)