January, 2008

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Ready to Get Back into a Routine

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

We are in Peoria and will be until Friday morning, but I was just thinking how much I am ready to get back into a routine. Ever since our trip out here in December life has been out of sorts because we knew my Grandmother was not going to be living much longer. So I did not really feel like I started a new year on January 1st. All those feelings of renewal and revision did not happen. But now I’m ready to start working on getting into a routine around the house, doing the menu planning and generally settling down.

So for the next couple days and while we travel back I think I’ll be making some notes about some things I want to work on when we get back. One thing Dave and I have really been talking frequently about is our need to be on a cardiovascular workout schedule. So for sure we’ll be thinking of ways to add that activity into our schedules.

Going back to Illinois

Saturday, January 12th, 2008

My mom called me yesterday morning and told me that my Grandmother had passed around 3:30AM. She seems to have passed peacefully with several of her children present. Thank you to everyone who has been praying for her during this final period of her life. Prayers were certainly answered.

So this evening I write this from Youngstown, OH, our half-way point back to Illinois. We’ve stayed in this same hotel three times now I think.

It sounds like Grandma’s children are putting together a wonderful meaningful visitation and funeral mass. I’ll find out more details tomorrow when we arrive. The funeral home asked that they put together a collection of items from Grandma’s life that were meaningful to her. I’ve never heard of doing that before, but it sounds like they are putting together a great selection of items from her home.

Well, thank you again for the prayers. I’ll write more later this week after the visitation and funeral.

Christmas Travels & A Dying Grandmother

Friday, January 4th, 2008

Christmas this year was a little melancholy because my mother’s mom is slowly passing away. Dave and I traveled back to Peoria the Friday before Christmas. We had a few tentative plans made in our minds, but things changed when I found out just how badly my grandmother was actually doing. I knew she was not doing great, but the fact that she is actively dying had not really entered my mind.

On Sunday, we attended mass then kept our plans of going to see one of my favorite families in the whole world in Decatur. We had a wonderful visit. They have a beautiful new home and the children are growing into such wonderful people.

My mom encouraged us to go down to Springfield on Christmas Eve, which I’m really glad she did. When we got to the nursing home, I was utterly taken aback by my Grandmother’s condition. For my entire life, my grandmother has always been plump, pink skinned and fast to smile when she sees me. I walked into the dining room to see her sitting there expressionless, gaunt, thin, gray-skinned with a giant bib on sitting in a wheel-chair. She didn’t smile and she didn’t even seem to recognize me. My mom wanted to check something in her room which thankfully took us immediately away from her because I was having a hard time intellectualizing just how far she had deteriorated in just a few short months. When we came back into the dining room and sat with her, my mom had to speak loudly and ask Grandma things as if she’d regressed into a young child. Did you eat anything? Do you have food in you mouth? Can you swallow that for me? I lost it. I couldn’t help, but cry.

I won’t go into details of her condition or anything, but to say she’s dying. On Wednesday we went down to see her again. One of my aunts and two of her children were visiting so we kept it short. On Thursday, we were headed down when my dad called and told us to go to the emergency room instead of the nursing home. We stayed for probably six hours with my mother as we all sat next to my Grandmother’s bedside watching the heart monitor and watching her go in and out of sleep, but never really opening her eyes much. She would speak ever so softly asking occasionally for an ice chip.

When 5:00PM came I decided Dave and I probably ought to be leaving. We were leaving to come back to CT the next morning. I knew I was seeing my grandmother for the last time this side of heaven. Whew, that was really hard.

My mother has been amazing through this whole ordeal with her mother. Mom has bunch of siblings who have also helped in their individual ways, but my exposure has been what my mom has done for Grandma. She keeps regular vigil. She takes care of her mother with a tender hand and back when it was occasionally necessary probably a firm voice to keep grandma from just slipping into death without really trying to continue life. There is a Mary in Heaven looking out for my Grandmother spiritually, but there is also an earthly daughter named Mary caring for the current physical needs of a dying woman. An awesome team!

Grandma is still going, on what power and how I have absolutely no idea. This will be the first family death since I’ve become a Catholic and it has been an interesting experience. Praying for someone so dear to me to have a peaceful death and knowing positively that she is going to a better place is all new to me. I’m very sad she’s dying and will miss her dearly. I really regret that whatever children I have will never know her personally this side of heaven. But her poor body is just about done and she deserves her eternal peace. Plus, she’s got a pretty great Heavenly welcoming party with all those loved ones who have gone before her.

So very soon Dave and I will be making a trek back to Illinois.

On a happier note, my niece turned two while we were visiting. She’s a glorious, spunky little gal. It is great to see my brother as a daddy. He’s great with his baby girl.