08
Apr
08

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.)

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12 Responses to “My Mamaw”


  1. 1 juliebelle
    April 8, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    she was as proud of you as you were of her.
    she is probably preparing the flower beds in heaven now for a glorious summer.
    we love you.

  2. April 8, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss Troy. 😦

  3. April 8, 2008 at 6:48 pm

    Troy,
    This is a sweet, tender story. What great memories you have. The picture is wonderful. I love Mamaw’s Christmas vest. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings.
    Lots of love to you and your family.
    David

  4. April 8, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    I know good Arkansas people when I see them and your Mamaw reminded me so much of my aunt and mother whom I have also lost in the past few years.

    You have been blessed by a wonderful family! So sorry about your Mamaw but she sounded like she was an extraordinary woman who left behind a wonderful legacy for you and the members of your family.

    Blessings to you!

  5. April 13, 2008 at 2:44 am

    Still thinking of you and your family. I am so glad you had that Friday with her.

  6. April 14, 2008 at 1:13 am

    Even though I’m very sorry to hear the news it brings, this a beautiful post.

  7. 7 catch
    April 14, 2008 at 3:05 am

    what better testament to the character (of the ones that go before) is there, than to know that that the loved ones that are left behind are charged with diligently striving to make the world a better place than ever could be accomplished on our own?

    i am so sorry for your loss.

  8. April 15, 2008 at 1:53 am

    Troy,

    I just want to thank you for this beautiful post, and for sharing your Mamaw with us. My grandmother is in the last stages of her life right now, and this brought me great comfort. The right words always do, and I can’t seem to find them myself right now. So thank you.

    Peace be with you and yours,
    Annabel

  9. April 25, 2008 at 3:12 am

    Oh Troy what a beautiful post. Your mamaw is extremely proud of you 🙂

  10. 10 Charles M. McClain, Jr.
    May 4, 2008 at 12:58 am

    Troy,

    I knew your Mamaw before I knew you,Christy and your Mom and Dad. We both worked at White County Hospital in Searcy. I was so impressed by her devotion to patients and winsome personality. I will always remember your eulogy. It must have been incredibly hard for you, but you painted a word picture of her that helped us all know her a little better. We all know that she now rests in the arms of our Lord.

  11. 11 Sheila
    September 20, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Troy,

    I just happened on your blog from a link on another. Your tribute to your grandmother is one of the tenderest, most poignant messages I’ve read in a long, long time. She was blessed to have you as her grandson. Her legacy of love is obviously alive and well through you.

    You said…

    “In 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.”

    I understand exactly how you feel. Your grandmother sounds very much like my Granny Chisolm who was my favorite person on earth and who also “loved exquisitely” as you so eloquently put it. Granny died about two years after my mother, and then my cat died two weeks after Granny. It was the hardest time of my life. All that being said, her love, support, and example have sustained me throughout all the years of my life, particuarly in those hard times.

    Our grandmothers have left big shoes to fill as well as a challenge to fill them. Somedays I don’t feel up to that challenge, but then I remember a little blue-eyed, white haired lady with a beaming smile, a twinkle in her eye, and a gi-normous heart, and I try and rise to the occasion.

    One thing I think your MawMaw would tell you is not to short sheet yourself where your grief is concerned. You miss her; grieve, Troy, so that you can heal. The best advice anyone gave me was from a friend who had lost her daughter. She said, “Grief it like the ocean. Sometimes, it breaks around your ankles and gently reminds you it’s there. Other times, the undertow can pull you under. The point is not to fight against it. If it pulls you down and you fight it, it will drown you. If you give in, it will pop you back up.” Living near the water, I could relate to that, and I have to say, it was some of the best advice I’ve ever been given. I coupled that advice with my best friend’s mother’s advice of “Lizzie get busy!” That works every time.

    Hope this helps you heal.

    In sympathy,

    Sheila

  12. September 23, 2008 at 2:25 am

    Sheila, your comments do help. I still think about her all the time. It makes me sad that she’s gone, but it sure is making me understand just how important it is to love all of those who wind up in our lives. Rise to the occasion as you put is is really good advice. Thanks for dropping by and I’m sending peace your way.


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