Saturday, December 31, 2011

I'll Fly Away

This time of year five years ago, I was going through one of the hardest times of my life so far. On December 22, 2006 my mom's mom, my Nanny, went in for surgery to correct a blocked bowel. They removed several inches of necrotic bowel and we thought everything would be better then. 

A few days after the surgery, I was at their house on the computer, and when my grandpa came home from the hospital he told me that the doctors had asked him if my Nanny had a living will. That really scared him, and in turn really scared me. I called my mom who, at first, dismissed it and then decided we should all just go over anyway. We called everyone in my immediate family and we all went. 

She was sitting in her hospital bed talking to us and laughing with us. She was almost herself. That night was the last real conversation I had with my Nanny. It was the last time she was really conscious. I'm so glad we had that night, those laughs, that conversation. I'm so glad we went. We would have regretted it for the rest of our lives had we not. 

From the next day on, we all stayed at the hospital all day. Luckily, most of my family worked at a school and were on Christmas break. It started out spending all day, going home at night, coming back the next day. The longer she went without recovering, the more time we spent. The final few days, we rarely left the hospital for more than a few hours. We slept in recliners, two people per chair. We rotated schedules spending time with her and taking breaks; we took turns getting take out and bringing it to the hospital.

As terrible as it was, the reason for being there together, I feel like it's brought my family closer together on a whole new level. As crazy as it sounds, I can smile thinking of those awful days we spent holed up in that tiny little waiting room like it was some kind of hotel room just for us. 

When she finally passed away on January 4th, it was like we didn't know what to do. Our lives had been in this terrible holding pattern for so long, where should we go? What's next? We eventually just went to their house, numb. We looked at pictures, cried, laughed, planned. 

On January 7th we had a memorial service. We didn't have a funeral or a viewing, she didn't want that. She wanted a celebration of life, and we did as best we could. We celebrated as much as we could with broken hearts. We included the scripture and songs she had saved on her computer in a document called "favorite." We told stories about her and invited the congregation to do the same. We spent the afternoon with family talking about how great she was and how much we would miss her.

She truly was an amazing person. Even with 3 kids, 5 grand kids and a couple great grands, no one ever felt left out. She had enough love and enough time for everyone. I've never heard anyone say a bad word about her, other than my grandpa and after nearly 50 years he's entitled to a little good natured complaining, we all do it. 

Her friends and family love her and miss her daily. 


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