5 years ago this month, God took her home to heaven. Though the truth is, Alzheimer’s/Dementia took Grandma from us long before then. At first she’d just forget what time we’d be leaving for church the next day or when we’d be eating dinner. Later she forgot her grandchildren, children, and eventually even her own identity. Bit by bit the disease took more of her.
I remember walking into the care facility the weekend Scott and I had gotten engaged. At this point, Grandma wasn’t able to have coherent conversations anymore. She’d say rhymes or gibberish or murmur under her breath. It was incredibly hard to visit her b/c you knew she didn’t know you, and she couldn’t even hold a conversation with you. And the pained look on my father’s face as he watched his mom like that always tore my heart out. I’d still go with my dad when I was home from college, we wouldn’t stay long, but I just felt we should still go. And that weekend I wanted to go to tell her I had gotten engaged. Scott had met her before (I had wanted her to “meet” him so that I at least knew in my heart that she had seen him). We went for me, not for her. I knew she wouldn’t understand, but I wanted my grandma to be a part of this life changing occasion in my life.
It was Easter and there was hymns playing in the sitting room. Grandma was there in a wheel chair staring off into space. As I got closer though I realized she was singing along with the hymns. My eyes filled with tears. The disease may have stolen her memories past and present but it didn’t take her faith. More than once when Scott and I went to visit her in the midst of a string of gibber gabber we’d hear her murmur, “God loves me, I love God.” I couldn’t help but think of the verse in Philippians 4:7, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Grandma may not have understood her situation or what was going on around her, but she truly had a peace that passed all understanding. I was also reminded of Romans 8:8-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
5 years ago we buried Grandma. As I sat in the old country church holding my very loud and squirmy 18 mth old son, I mourned the fact that she never got to know him. She would have loved to play games with him and make him laugh much like she did with me when I was little. She’d have sang him Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Old MacDonald and played peek a boo. With tears trickling down my face we sang the old hymn, “Blessed Assurance.” They couldn’t have chosen a better hymn to sing at her funeral.
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels, descending, bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
I have lots of memories of my grandma. Lunches at McDonalds, getting letters in the mail written on the back of McDonalds placemats,riding in the front seat of Grandpa’s Ford Pick up truck, playing in the fields of her farm, but the one I cherish most is that Easter in the nursing home when I witnessed her praising her Savior all her days long. I hope that when I am gone my family can say that my story was such.