In the past couple of years I have had the opportunity to finally get to know my Grandma Lu. After the passing of my Grandpa Bud, Grandma seemed to become more receptive to family and visitors. I totally took advantage of that by visiting her as often as I could and coaxing her into telling me stories.
The memories I’ll cherish are these that I’ve made in the past couple of years and today I will share my last three with you. But first, Grandma Joyce insisted on being called Grandma Lu by all the grandkids so I hold to that in my little speech.
On Tuesday, February 12, I had suddenly had enough of fretting about Grandma Lu’s situation. About a week prior she had decided to quit dialysis and a few short days following that she was moved to hospice care. I had spent those several days wallowing in my empty house and, after melting into a sobbing puddle on my kitchen floor randomly one afternoon, I figured it was time to set my sails for Minnesota to see her. I hit snow as I drove in the night but since I’m as much of a stubborn Norwegian as my grandma I kept at it and slowly, but surely, made it safely home.
The next morning I awoke to coffee time with Mom and then we headed to visit Grandma. I was hopeful in going to see her because only a couple of days before my mom told me how Grandma said something like this, “all who believeth and are baptized will be saved.”
My time with Grandma was lovely and gave me peace. Honestly, my Grandma is a hoot to hang with. We talked a lot about Josh, I think she had a little crush on him , and I tried to get her to tell me stories from her childhood.
On the last day I was home I went to visit her by myself. I brought the dogs and Josh’s music so she could meet my furry kiddos and hear some rough cuts of Citizen Way’s new album coming out in the next couple of months. She was amused by my pups until Sam tried to snuggle one too many times and drew blood on her fragile skin with his persistently knife-like claws. So, I put them away and put the music on. She reclined and listened intently to every tune I played for her. I’m pretty sure she couldn’t have possibly understood the lyrics but I was praying all the while that the words would sink into her heart anyway. After she tired of music we chatted. At one point she dozed off and she was so still that I thought she died right in front of me! But, just before I asked Gene, her 24 hour caregiver, for help, Grandma spoke again behind me. Thank the Lord! I was so freaked!
Before I left I asked if I could pray for Grandma. ”Oh yeah!” she said. A much more enthusiastic response than I expected so my heart fluttered even more hopefully for her. After the prayer and a gentle, awkward stooping hug I said “I love you Grandma” and she said “drive safe” (she doesn’t say “I love you”) and that was the last time I saw her.
On Friday, February 22, Grandma Lu took a turn for the worse. My mom called asking me to pray hard because she had gotten the call that Grandma was at her end and, if she wanted to be there to say goodbye, she had to get there right away. With a 45 minute drive ahead of her, my mom was desperate for some divine intervention so she could make it in time.
After calling Josh and praying with him and sending a quick text to my small group pleading for prayer, I got on my knees and prayed as hard as I’ve ever prayed. I prayed for my mom to get to Grandma on time but I mostly prayed that God would claim my Grandma as one of His own before she breathed her last. This was a common prayer for me in the last couple of years but never so desperately and fervently
As I prayed God kept talking over me. When I finally was quiet for a moment all I heard Him say was “Kaia, stop praying for this, I already have her in the palm of my hand. She is one of my own.” My heart soared and I was filled with such peace and hope.
My mom did make it in time that day and my Grandma decided she wasn’t done yet.
On Monday, February 25 at around 6:30AM my strong-willed and spunky grandma breathed her last. I awoke at 7:30AM to a voicemail from my dad with the news and my heart was so glad that she was finally safely home and no longer in pain. As I listened through the voicemail I was given this beautiful vision of my white-haired, though obviously healthy, smiling Grandma. It was a smile free of pain and struggle and a face so full of life and peace and love and joy. She truly was so beautiful!
In her last days my grandma taught me a lot about “being joyful in the face of suffering.” I truly hope I can live out her example of perseverance when I grow old. I respected her so much for the way she carried herself amidst the pains of so many health issues, especially at the end with the excruciating pain that comes with kidney failure. I really loved my Grandma Lu and I hope she realized how fully I loved her and how greatly I will miss her. My heart grieves that I can’t share and laugh with her anymore but I am so excited to see her again when I get to travel to paradise.