Today is my Grandma's 84th birthday.
She has certainly seen better days. Visiting her now is always bittersweet for me as the essence of the wonder-woman I grew up with has all but moved on waiting patiently for her soul to follow...
She's tired, I know this, and is winding down. Her health is failing and her appetite gone. It's hard to convince her to eat anything especially when she's quick to argue about the big breakfast she just cooked and how she can't eat another bite, even though it's 6pm and she hasn't been in front of a stove in years.
She sleeps a lot these days, making up for all that she's missed in her long lifetime I suppose, but a couple of weeks ago she fell into a deep, sound sleep giving quite a fright to all who love her. When she finally woke in the evening, she indicated to my aunt that she was fine and had spent the day talking with the Lord. The Lord told her that soon he would heal her and take her home; she said that was fine by her.
That is so Grandma.
Grandma has always had a strong faith in God though she rarely went to church. Her church was the outdoors, her gardens, her flowers, the wilderness, and wildlife. I believe Grandma knows the truth. I also believe that her truth is one of many.
She died once, many years ago on the operating table during a procedure. She told me of how she watched from above all the commotion as doctors and nurses scurried frantically about her body in attempts to revive her. Like so many others have recounted of near death experiences, she saw the "tunnel of lights" and felt completely at peace, ready for the journey. She saw a hand move away from her and understood that it was not her time... She awoke later in the hospital with vivid memories of her encounter.
When I was young, Grandma and I had many conversations about death and dying and God and what we thought happened next. We made a promise to each other that whoever went first would try our best to come back and let the other know we got there okay.
I don't know how I will ever face it, but I know that time is coming.
Kevin, the kids and I went to see her recently and took some of her favorite foods in hopes that she would eat: pimento cheese (yuk!), fresh strawberries, applesauce, and a couple of new things to try - blackberry flavored water and a Starbucks coffee.
Grandma always loved her coffee and sweet tea (the mother's milk of the south). After more than eight decades, I decided it was high-time she had her first Starbucks. So I took her one: a sugar-free 1/2 decaf. Cinnamon Dolce with whole milk.
Each time she tasted it, she said it was downright delicious. She ate a quarter of a pimiento cheese sandwich before telling me again about her big breakfast. She tried the blackberry flavored water and told me how she could make it taste much better because it wasn't sweet enough, "All you gotta do is stew some fresh blackberries with a cup or two of sugar..." she said, which kinda defeats the purpose when you're diabetic but I'm sure she was right. After a slice or two of strawberries, she began trying to feed the children, who were happy to eat Grandma's strawberries and Grandma was happy to see the children eat them.
"Okay Grandma, how about you have the applesauce and Liam will eat the strawberries, he hasn't been eating well."
I turned to my son, "Tell you what, for every bite of applesauce Grandma eats, you have to eat a strawberry," I said as I was cutting the berry halves into minuscule pieces.
Worked like a charm and both Grandma and Liam finished all of their fruit while Isabel gobbled down the remainder of the uneaten pimento cheese sandwich. Grandma was very proud of Liam for eating all of his strawberries. ;-)
"Oh Grandma," I said for the dozenth time, "I brought you a coffee to try. It's from a coffee shop called Starbucks. I think you'll like it; it has cinnamon in it."
And once again, she would try her very first Starbucks latte and proclaim in surprise, "Well Crys, I've never had coffee like this before but this is downright delicious."
I love you! Always and always.
"Grandma always made you feel she had been waiting to see just you all day and now the day was complete."