I have the habit of checking my phone when Ellis wakes up to nurse in the night. I hit the home button this morning to light the screen and all I saw at first glance was that I had gotten a text from my dad. It was 3:30 in the morning. My heart sank. My dad never texts that late (or early, depending on how you look at it). Just on Saturday, I had received a text from him letting me know my grandma, his mom, was not doing well. She was hallucinating, seeing letters, and unable to converse. I knew this text wasn’t a good one.
My grandma passed away this morning. While my grandma was approaching 99 years old this fall, I’m still a little numb. This post is for me to begin moving beyond the initial shock of her death.
I know her faith in God was strong. I don’t remember ever really talking in depth about God or our beliefs, but His love was in her words and presence.
I’m sure the majority of people think they have the best grandparent(s). They’re wrong. My Grandma Wiley is in a category all her own. She made me feel like I was her favorite grandchild, always. Now that I’m older, I’m fairly convinced she made each of us grandkids feel that way, but I’ll always cherish how special she made me feel.
I never, ever felt judged or looked down upon by my grandmother. I’m not sure what she thought when she saw my first piercing, my first visible tattoo, or the years I struggled with depression/anxiety/disordered eating, but she didn’t let those thoughts (if negative or opposing) dictate her words or how she treated me. She always greeted me with love, affection, and acceptance. I knew she thought I was smart, and I never doubted her love for me.
I have many memories with her. My grandfather, her husband, and my grandparents on my mom’s side all died when I was still fairly young. I am thankful for all the years I was able to spend with her – all the opportunities to really know her. I’m thankful for the visits Norah had with her. I hope Norah always remembers how happy those electric wheelchair rides made both of them. I’m sad my grandma wasn’t able to meet Ellis. He’s such a bundle of joy; I’m sad she couldn’t share in that joy before passing.
Years ago (I’ve lost count), I gave her a metal token, about the size and shape of a quarter. Right now, no matter how hard I try, I can’t remember what it said. But every time I saw her after I gave it to her, she would pull it out of her pocket and say something to the extent of, “I keep it with me always.” I can’t help but wonder if it was with or near her this morning.
As time passes, I know memories with her will pop up here and there. There are many photos of her at my parent’s house; I wish I had them now. Some memories stand out in this moment, many having to do with the farm where her and my grandfather used to live:
- Me, so very small, standing next to her at the kitchen counter. She used a roll of tape to clean all the cat hair off of my blanket. Her cat, Buffy, and I were best friends during that visit.
- Her homemade applesauce! I don’t know what she did to it, but I’ve always thought it was de-lish.
- Rides on the wooden swing under the big tree next to their house.
- Walks down to the pond.
- Christmas family gatherings.
- The outdoor kittens she would let me chase and play with.
- Her handing me a fly swatter so I could kill all the flies on the red deck.
- Her hugs. They weren’t reserved or weak. You could feel her love. And always accompanied by a kiss on the cheek.
- The blankets she would crochet for her kids, grandkids, and great grandkids.
- Me avoiding at all costs to go down into the scary farmhouse basement with her. Turns out my fears were rational. If I remember correctly, it took three men to carry out a snake they had discovered while preparing the farm for auction. BLEH!
- My wedding day. I prayed many times that she would be alive and present for my wedding day.
- Meeting Norah Ruth. After my wedding day, my prayers shifted to her being alive and present for meeting my kid(s). Norah’s middle name comes from her and Marshall’s grandmother.
- Her being strong, even through the tears, when they had to sell the farm and move to an assisted-living facility.
- Her handwriting. Loved seeing it on an envelope in the mail.
Grandma Wiley, I love you. I hope you know I meant that every single time I said it to you. You brought more of God to this place and touched many people with your love and sincere kindness. I won’t pretend to know what Heaven is like, but I hope you are there now. I will miss you.