Day 6: Yesterday I attended a funeral. It was the funeral of a dear, sweet woman that lived to be 90 years old. I met this woman and her husband about 4 years ago. I was pregnant with Layla and not feeling the greatest, but a friend from church asked if I would be willing to take an elderly couple a meal. I went in the hopes of a being a blessing to them, but rather I was the one to receive a great blessing that day.
I had carefully prepared chicken, roasted potatoes, and dill carrots…all with a little less salt than usual because the Missus was on a low sodium diet. My plan was to pop in and out.
About an hour or so after sitting on their beautifully vintage red sofa and talking like old friends, I realized I should probably let them get to their meal. I didn’t really want to leave them just yet. With the pregnancy sickness I had been experiencing, there weren’t many bright moments in my long days, but sitting and talking with this sweet couple was quite the wonderful distraction. But I left…with a hug, if I remember correctly, and I had a feeling I would be back.
Over the following four years, this couple came to be very special to our little family. They were like a third set of grandparents to our girls…or maybe more like great-grandparents =). We would visit when we could…not nearly as often as I hoped, but each meeting was special. He would begin a story, get half-way thru, she’d fill in the details when his mind drew a blank (which wasn’t very often…if only I had a memory like that!), and then he’d pull the story full circle, managing to take my husband and I back through time and return us to present day.
Meanwhile, the Missus would read stories to Layla or when Kenley was just a baby, cradle her in her arms. She’d take occasional glances over at her husband talking and give a smile. She loved him.
Almost a week to the day before her 90th birthday, she suffered congestive heart failure and ended up in ICU at the local hospital. After learning of her condition, I went to pay a visit one evening by myself. Even though I had been warned, I was not prepared to see her so weak…so frail…so unresponsive. My heart broke as I thought about the Mister.
I sat for a short while…gave her hand a squeeze and told her I loved her. I left that evening not knowing if I would have the privilege of speaking with her again or seeing her smile at the girls. And that’s where we come to what I am thankful for today…
After almost a week in the hospital, the Missus began to show some signs of improvement. She was alert, responsive, and though unable to talk due to a ventilator and feeding tube, she was writing notes down to communicate.
Monday rolled around…it was her 90th birthday. I wasn’t sure what to do. Wanting to be respectful of the family and wanting to be sensitive to her still being very ill, I was conflicted as to whether it would be appropriate to try to make a hospital visit. Was a card okay, but a balloon too much? I just didn’t know.
The night before we had prepared a card from our family, a painting from Layla, and photos we thought she might enjoy, but now it was the day of her birthday and I didn’t know what I should do with it all. But I packed up the girls, went and picked out a balloon, and headed for the hospital. I prepared Layla as much as possible that the Missus would look different than usual. Layla assured me she understood and also assured me that we would sing “Happy Birthday” =).
When we arrived, we ran into the couple’s daughter and I was relieved to see a balloon tied to her purse. It wasn’t too much after all. We were here to celebrate a wonderful woman’s 90th birthday!
Upon entering the room, I could see that welcoming smile in her eyes. Oh I was so glad to see those eyes! I was so glad for Layla to see them…and even though I know Kenley is too young to remember for long, I’m glad she got to be there too. We read our letter, shared our photos, and Layla proudly presented her painting. And, of course…we sang!
Our visit wasn’t long, but like all of our other meetings, special. Upon leaving, Layla said to me, “Mommy she didn’t look different. She looked like she always looks!” And with a smile on my face, I responded, “Good, sweetheart. I’m glad you think so.” I really was…I was glad that even if that was the last time we saw her, that Layla would remember her as she was during all of our cherished visits.
A week and a half later…the Missus passed.
I believe she’s no longer in pain…no longer suffering, but at the same time I miss her sweet smile, and my heart aches for the Mister. I imagine our visits will be rather different now, but I hope together we can enjoy her memory. I am grateful to have known her, even if but a short period of her ninety years. And how very grateful I am…so grateful…for that one last encounter…for me…and my girls.
What (or who) you are thankful for today?