God took Great-grandma Beth home 10 days ago. My husband’s grandma celebrated her 100th birthday on October 15th, 2012. Grandma was an extrovert of extroverts. Talk about being “energized” by people. I see her settle into her rocker and happily recount the day’s guests, “Dorothy, and LouAnn, and Lauretta. Oh, and Linda called, too.”
Grandma loved visitors and all manner of “company.” Cousins, first and second and once-removed, campers from three decades ago turned beloved friends, kind caregivers and carefree kids. However long or short, when visits drew to a close, she’d say,
“You come back and visit.”
The last several weeks Gabe and I were conscientious about taking time to visit Great Grandma. We’d talk about the boys, the latest “news”- the pregnancies and brand new babies and the next big event. And books. So many books. Then she’d wonder aloud why God hadn’t taken her home yet. “Must be something for me, still,” she’d venture. And she always loved hugs.
The last month it struck me that Grandma was dying as she had lived. Friendly, chatty, and ever looking on the sunny side.
Enduring. Faithful till death. Not, to borrow from Andree Seu Peterson’s column, “a sled painted pink on a porch.” (Read it all: http://www.worldmag.com/2013/01/sleds_painted_pink ) Not just a decoration. Not, paraphrasing and adding to Hunter S. Thompson,
“arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather skidding in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming” God be exalted!
Our times are in his hands and any “exit strategy” is for Him to decide. Our last two visits with Great-grandma were more subdued. Though worn out, Grandma still seemed to enjoy our company. “She sure perks up when visitors come,” we heard.
Then last Monday came. After dropping Sam off at school, on that frigid, brilliantly bright morning, Gabe and I stopped in. We didn’t know then that it was the last morning before she came ’round. Grandma’s weak voice greeted us from her hospital bed.
In the three quarters of an hour we stayed, her refrain was, “I’ll be comin’ round.” I smiled and nodded. Then, with a bit of a wince and the slightest shake of her head, “Something’s just not right.” Then, again reassuringly, “I’ll be comin’ round.” And again. Then again, with faint smile, and, “I’ll be comin’ around.”
Gabe and I recited Psalm 23 to her. She smiled and nodded appreciatively. Maybe we should have let well enough alone, but we attempted a Doxology duet, too. My contralto needed a restart midway. Grandma smiled I think. We put our coats on. Then, Gabe took his great-grandma’s hundred year old hand in his still slightly pudgy five year old hand.
She gripped it, and directed, as she always did, “You come and visit me.”
We will, Grandma. We will come ’round with you one day and visit. In a place where all things are made new.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.