*** First off and foremost, I need to give credit to my cousin, Paige for giving me the push I needed to make this post. I had thought about it, but she was on top of the game and wrote her post about this subject the day after. ***
I haven’t blogged on any of my 3 blogs (this one included) for months. I’ve been dealing with personal issues, which I should probably talk about at some point – but not today, and as such I’ve found many reasons to avoid the computer and I’ve also just found myself extremely busy. But I have stuff to say today and hopefully it’ll help get me back on track with my blogging. FINGERS CROSSED!
I think I mentioned on the ‘family’ blog that my maternal grandma was living in an assisted living facility for the last bit of time. (Don’t hate me, I don’t really know the EXACT amount of time) Up until the time she was moved to the assited living facility, she was doing a pretty darn good job of living on her own and taking care of herself. For awhile a cousin of mine was living with her and helping to take care of her, but his situation was going to be changing and Grandma started to decline as well. It was then that my mom and her siblings decided to move Grandma out of the house she’d lived in for most of her married life and into the assisted living facility.
Before they sold Grandma’s home, my mom said we were free to come and get anything we wanted of Grandma’s that she couldn’t take with her. I was busy the day that was happening and besides that it felt wrong to take Grandma’s stuff. I especially didn’t want to potentially fight with other family members for ‘things’. I asked my older sister to just grab things I had made and given to Grandma. That’s all I wanted.
Grandma was sad to not be at her home and from what my mom told me, kind of frustrated that she couldn’t just live with each of her 5 kids for certain periods of time. Sadly, that just wasn’t possible as 2 of my uncles are just super busy and they both have wives that aren’t the healthiest. My aunt is just crazy busy as well trying to do a million things for a million different people. My mom works full time and just didn’t feel she would be able to do the things Grandma needed. I think that last part was a big part of the issue for all of my grandma’s kids as well. They felt better having her in a place with medically trained professionals.
Since living in the assisted living facility we had plenty of periods where Grandma would get really sick and her kids were sure it was reaching the end. But Grandma would always punch right back up after awhile and continue to live on. Of course we were all thrilled that she was hanging on, but she was getting tired of it. When I would visit her (which wasn’t often as she had a hard time remembering just who people were – outside of her kids) she’d always say, “I don’t know why I’m still here.” I’d tell her that it was because we (as a whole family) were selfish and we weren’t ready to let her go. She’d smile and kind of laugh. Another favorite line of hers was, “I’m so mad at Grandpa. He hasn’t come to get me yet.” That’s when I’d laugh and inside feel just a little bit grateful that Grandpa still hadn’t kept his promise.
Around Mother’s Day, my mom and sisters and I had planned to have a weekend away and the possibility of visiting Grandma and having lunch was brought up. Well, the weekend didn’t go as planned for me (yet another story for another day) and my mom and sisters did something different. So my mom decided we should do a girl’s thing on May 21st and have lunch with Grandma. Somehow, the message that it was just a girl’s thing didn’t get passed on to everyone so my little sister brought all her kids and her husband and my little brother came. My mom told me this ahead of time and I had the option of bringing the family, but Eric wouldn’t be able to come and taking 7 kids to this place seemed like a bad idea. So I decided I’d have a girls day with my girls and Zach. Zach got to come cause he’s a baby and given the situation, he just needed to be with me.
We had a great lunch and I remember Grandma saying, “I know who each of you are.” I wondered if she really did or if she said it in an effort to make us feel good. My mom had brought soup for Grandma and she ate a little bit, but only a bit. When we started to clean up she tried to save her soup by putting a paper towel over it. My older sister was ready to take it up to her room for her, but my mom (knowing Grandma wouldn’t eat it) threw it out when she wasn’t looking. Grandma grew up in the age where you didn’t let anything go to waste and it was proof that habits die hard.
After lunch we headed up to her small room to visit for just a little bit. My little sister’s husband took the kids across the street to play at the playground at a school for a while and it was nice to have a visit without needing to get after kids. Because the other kids were gone Grandma got the chance to visit with her newest great-grandbaby. Zach absolutely loved Grandma and offered smile upon smile. I had a thought that it may be the last time we got to see Grandma, so I made sure to take a few pictures.
On May 31st, I got a text saying that things had gotten bad and Grandma was pretty sick. The nurses gave her till the end of the week. So for that whole week I waited by my phone expecting a call at any time. The weekend came and went and I didn’t hear anything.
My mom sent a text on Monday the 6th, saying that Grandma had once again defied odds and was still hanging out. She wasn’t going to get better, but she had made it through the weekend and even the nurse was surprised at that. The next morning I got a text from my mom saying that it was getting close. A couple hours later I got the text that Grandma had passed on. I was surprised that I took it as well as I did. But there was a sense of peace about the whole thing and I knew that she was in a better place and with people she had missed for so many years on earth.
When my Mom talked to me when she knew Grandma was getting bad she asked me if I’d do the memorial tribute video. I was both honored and overwhelmed. I was glad to do it and grateful my mom, aunt and uncles trusted me to do it, but I was afraid it wouldn’t be all that they were expecting. So in my true style, I put it off until I couldn’t anymore. I got in touch with the family members I have as friends on Facebook and asked for any pictures they had. I was so thankful for the help and I think in the end I was able to include each of Grandma’s kids and grandkids at least once. I really struggled with trying to fit a person’s whole life into a short amount of time. In the end the video ended up being less than a half hour. I made sure to include a couple songs that I knew were her favorites and then a couple that could be viewed as things I wanted to say to her.
The viewing was on Sunday night and I went a bit early with my parents so that I could get the video up and playing before people started to arrive. Thankfully Eric is a true Boy Scout and made sure we had the video on something other than a DVD because the DVD player the funeral home had didn’t like the DVD. So I went about hooking up the video the way Eric had instructed and had it playing, but couldn’t get the sound to go through the TV, so when Eric arrived he went to work getting that set up.
We stayed for the whole viewing as we didn’t want to leave our own equipment at the funeral home and hope that my parents remembered to grab it when they left. It turned out to be a long night for the kids, but most of them did a pretty good job.
I was kind of surprised at how many people stopped to actually watch the video. I figured it’d just play in the background and people would see what they saw, but there was people that actually sat down to view it.
At the end of the night, my aunt and a couple of my uncles let me know I did a good job and I finally felt relief knowing that I hadn’t let them down. We talked to my uncle, Roger about the video playing during the viewing before the funeral the next morning. The funeral would be in the church building my Grandma went to for most of her adult life. Which is also an hour away from our house using the freeway. We promised we’d do our best to get there before things got started and get the video playing. We also assured my uncle we wouldn’t need anything from the library and we’d just use our own stuff.
We got home probably around 11 and we all went straight to bed. We were up the next morning by 6:30 and had the kids up by about 7. We got everyone ready to go and we were out the door only minutes after we had planned, but we should have plenty of time to get to the church before the viewing started. But then we met up with traffic. Lots of traffic. We still got there before the viewing technically started, but just barely. Eric got the video set to go and we discovered it was a good thing we brought our own stuff as Roger was having difficulties gettng into the library. We spent the next couple hours in the Relief Society room waiting for the funeral to start.
I had a harder day this day and just about lost it just before the family prayer and when they closed the casket. Something about that always seems so final. We then filed into the Chapel and Grandma’s family pretty much took up the whole front middle section of the chapel.
My aunt, uncles and mom all spoke of the lady they knew as a mother and it was so nice to get a glimpse of her life as a mother. My cousin (the oldest of the cousins) also spoke and she spoke of everything we experienced as grandchildren. She experienced a few different things as she was an older grandkid and I was a younger one, but one thing rang true – my grandma loved holidays and creating traditions that she kept throughout the years. There was laughter and tears and I couldn’t help but think Grandma would be embarrassed by everything that was being said and she’d say that she didn’t deserve it.
About a week before the funeral my uncle took to Facebook to ask if anyone could print off some lyrics to some songs that he liked that reminded him of his parents. I told him I would do it as it would be fairly easy and I got a nice, new printer for Mother’s Day. He used a couple songs for his euology. He gave me a gift for doing this for him. He had given this item to Grandma at some point in time and when it was time to clean out her room at the assisted living facility, he grabbed it and gave it to me. I absolutely love it and was so thankful he thought to give it to me.
We then made our way to the interment. The interment was to take place at the cemetary where my grandpa, cousin and Eric’s dad are buried. Because we had left so early in the morning, Eric didn’t get breakfast and the kids were getting hungry. The sky had also opened up and rained cats and dogs, so we left before the procession to stop and grab a snack and some umbrellas. We ended up almost directly behind the hearse when we got to the cemetary, so we were glad we weren’t late.
We got the kids out of the car and situated everyone under our umbrellas. We didn’t quite have room for Zach under the umbrella, so I asked my mom if we could leave him, in his carseat, next to her under the tent. She agreed and pretty much was ready to ask us if we wanted to put him there. (Great minds thinking alike or something)
Before they got started they wanted to make sure everyone was there. We soon noticed an uncle was missing. For whatever reason, they gave him another couple minutes and started anyway. I was nervous about my uncle and felt super bad that they started this without him – but no one had a way to get a hold of him as he doesn’t have a cell phone.
When Grandma’s dedication was over, Eric excused himself. I thought I heard him say, “I’m gonna go call Greg.” (Eric was in the middle of mass chaos on his family’s side this same week) But then I noticed he had wandered over to his dad’s grave – which is only a few feet from my grandparents. I then went over to be with him. It was one of those times I knew he just needed me.
We then headed back to the church for the luncheon. To my surprise we had a wonderful layout of food that looked like it had been catered. To my even greater surprise I found out that my Grandma’s wonderful Polynesian neighbors had done the food for us. They had so much food there and even planned for people to take food home by bringing take home boxes.
This wonderful neighbor of my grandma’s explained how Grandma had been like a Grandma to his girls as his parents had died before his girls were born. He gave a small little speech about who Grandma was to them and I could totally see it.
I found out that these were also the people that had bought Grandma’s house when the family sold it and they rent it out. But I also found out that the Polynesian’s tend to name their homes and they gave Grandma’s home the name of , ‘Nin’ which was her nickname.
Something else these neighbors did that really touched me was that the flower centerpieces they brought were all roses from Grandma’s yard. This was a huge deal to us all as Grandpa’s love was gardening. We grew up with flowers galore surrounding their yard. At the end of the meal we were told that we could take the centerpieces with us. I was visiting with some family members and Tanis asked if I wanted to take one and so I told him to grab the yellow one.
I was really quite surprised at how easy this funeral was for me. Every other funeral I’ve been to, I’ve cried like a baby. But there was a peacefulness that came with Grandma’s. Perhaps it was because I’d been prepping for it for years, but I think it was more than that.
It’s defnitely going to be weird without her and I know my mom has already had some moments where she wanted to go to her mom for something or tell her some story, only to realize she couldn’t relay info like she used to.
I just want to be the type of mom her kids all remember her being. One that didn’t need to yell and scream to get her kids to do things. A mom that didn’t need to lecture about things. A person who was accepting of everyone flaws and all. Since her passing the sentence that keeps coming to mind is: “Just love them.” So I’ll do my best to just love them. Grandma certainly knew how to really LOVE a person and was a great example of it. It should be an easy task as long as I follow her example.