Hearing the words Hospice Care is gut-wrenching because you know that what comes next is having to say goodbye. If you have ever had a loved one enter hospice care, you know that it is a time when emotions are strong, last-minute details are being made, and final goodbyes are not far on the horizon.
In 2018, when I got the call from my dad, that my grandmother had entered hospice care, I fell to my knees and sobbed. I knew her time was coming to an end, she had lived an absolutely amazing life and was 100 years old, but knowing it and accepting it are two completely different things. I was 791 miles away, had not seen her in more years than I want to admit, and I was losing her.
I called every day, just to tell her I loved her, and for a few days she could talk to me, but other days she was too tired or was sleeping when I would call. Thankfully, my dad and aunt were with her, and would let her know that I had called and loved her…often times after she would ask if I had called.
I had planned to jump in the truck with my husband and kids and drive non stop until I got there, just so I could hug her and see her one last time; being the grandmother that she was, she told me not to come. She didn’t want me to see her like that; she wanted me to remember her as she was. I had tried in September of 2017 to make the trip to Colorado to see her for her 100th birthday, but our truck had other plans at that time; something that still makes me angry.
Now, here I was, out of time, and I hated it…the stages of grief were starting, but they weren’t happening in the order I thought they would…I was just angry, at everything, but mostly at myself, because I had failed to be present in her life the way a good granddaughter would be. Yes, it is true that we talked often on the phone, but that wasn’t enough…I should have called her more often.
While she was in hospice care, my dad assured me that she was well taken care of, and was as comfortable as they could possibly make her. My sister was there with her, helping make her comfortable, I love that my Dr. sister took her time to be there with grandma, and I know grandma was grateful as well. When she would eat, it was little bites of something sweet; a donut, or a long john; grandma LOVED sweets, and I actually smiled when I heard what she had requested…it was classic grandma.
May 28th, 2018, would have been my grandparents 80th wedding anniversary, but my grandfather had passed away in 1990. The very next day, on May 29th, my grandma was called home to be with the Lord, and with grandpa again. There haven’t been many things in my life that have broken me the way losing her did…this post right here is the first time I have actually been able to write about losing her…and it is happening with tears streaming down my face.
I am so happy that she was well taken care of during her time in hospice; I’m grateful for the Priest that came to pray over her and administer her last rites; I am thankful for the hospice team that helped my family through that time…I don’t know what all happens with hospice, but having to navigate all of that can’t be easy; setting up care, hospice billing, and more…things that most people don’t even think about in the midst of having to say goodbye.
Mostly, I am thankful for my grandmother; a woman whose faith never wavered, who loved deeply and without regret, who loved the holiday, loved cooking for her family, and loved me without question when I first joined this family at the age of five. So much of who I am is because of her, and I am eternally grateful for her love, her prayers, and her unending support as I navigated some of the hardest periods of my life.
I miss her every single day; knowing that she is watching over me and my family makes each day a little bit easier. I know she didn’t want me to see her in her frail state, so as to remember her as she was, and for her, I will.
She will forever be the woman who had to have her lawnmower taken away because she wouldn’t stop trying to mow her own lawn. The woman who would make funny jokes and riddles as we walked to Church on Sunday mornings. The woman who took us to Dairy Queen for treats and let us pick sweets at the Circle K. She will forever be the heart and soul of my family; we are broken without her…but her presence can be felt when it is needed the most.