Thursday, July 21st, Uncle Lary took my 96-year-old Granny Grace to the ER with chest pains. She was having a heart attack, although her Pacemaker kept the EKG from showing it, so they admitted her into the ICU and later the cardiac unit to diagnose her and then observe her for a few days. She came home a few days later, and while she is no longer in pain, she has been continuously slipping away from us.
My mom has been spending a good bit of time in Jackson with her and helping my aunt and uncle, so on Friday, July 29th, my dad, Helen Grace, and I went down to see GG. On the drive down, Helen Grace kept talking about seeing Spiffer and GG. We had talked about GG being sick and that HG needed to be quiet around GG in case she was sleeping, so she didn’t surprise me when HG said, “GG sick.” But then she added, “Her heart,” and held her hand to her chest. How do little ones pick up on these things?!
I was shocked when I saw GG, and the tears didn’t stop all day. She was very non responsive, and I was immediately hit with regret that I hadn’t gotten there sooner. I was sitting on her bed next to her with my cousin, Suzanne, and in one of GG’s lucid moments, Suzanne told GG I was there. GG turned her face toward my voice and said, “Sha.” The sweetest sound (and the first time she had called one of us by name in a few days). And then she was gone again. Later in the day, I walked past her room when I thought she was napping and saw that her eyes were open- the first time I had seen them open all day. I immediately ran in the room, grabbed her hand, and while trying not to knock her over, I started blurting out, “GG, it’s Sha, I’m here, I love you, GG, I’m here, I love you, I love you,” like a babbling idiot. She made eye contact with me, gave me a half smile, said my name and then, “Well, I love you too.” I immediately burst into tears but was suddenly at peace. That was all I needed- to tell her how much I loved her one more time and to know that she heard me. To hear her reciprocate that emotion back to me was the most precious gift.
On a lighter note, at one point, GG was sitting up on the side of the bed and Helen Grace was standing nearby watching her. Out of nowhere, HG said, “You’re cute,” and GG kind of chuckled. I’m grateful GG was able to see her and hear that.
Before we left, my mom, Helen Grace, and I were standing by GG’s bed. I just couldn’t bring myself to leave. As I watched my mom hold her mama’s hand and as Helen Grace wiped the tears off my cheeks, I realized that this could be the last time that our four generations were together. I had to face the reality that one day, I’ll be caring for my mama like that in her greatest time of need and even more scary, that one day Helen Grace will hopefully be caring for me at the end of my life. Suddenly, Grace Ann (Suzanne’s daughter) ran in the room, just arriving at GG’s house. And there stood four Graces- three of a younger generation(s) all named after the matriarch of our family. What a legacy she has given us. Suzanne and Aunt Gloria joined us, and GG’s daughters and their daughters and their daughters (get all those generations?) stood around GG’s bed for a few moments. Finally, I kissed her forehead one last time and thanked her for giving us this legacy of a name and a family full of loved ones, and I had to turn and walk out of the room.
As my mom has said, GG has certainly earned her crown in heaven, and I pray that she feels God’s divine peace as she waits for Him to call her by name.
HG thought it was hilarious to balance plates and cups on Uncle Lary’s head. Adorable. She stood like this with her hand on Aunt Glory’s back for the longest time. She would run over to Lary to add another cup, and then she’d run right back to put her hand on its spot on Gloria’s back.