Thursday, December 16, 2010

On this day, five years ago, I was sitting at the bedside of my great grandmother, Daisy, as she went to see her maker.

In July, 2005 we found out that she had pancreatic cancer that was spreading.  There wasn't much the medical staff could do, so they sent my grandmother home with morphine, a nebulizer and an appointment with hospice.

It was hard to swallow for our whole family.  Daisy was one of those people who never gave up.  She lived during the great depression, helped her husband become a christian, went through both her sons and her husband dying before her.  She was so strong.

I moved in with my grandmother that August.  I was a nursing major and thought I could help.  Plus, the last thing I wanted to do was live with my parents again : )

While living with my grandmother she became my best friend.  It was like having a slumber party every night.  We would stay up late looking at old pictures, talking about memories, laughing.  She would tell me about how Jesus worked in her life time and again and in the midst of it all I'd bring her medications when they were due.

Things started to get bad in November.  I remember my grandmother calling for me one morning to help her to the bathroom because she didn't have the strength.  I had taken countless older patients to the bathroom as a nurse tech, but its different when it is your own family.  However, I wouldn't have had anyone else do it but me.  I wanted to help her.

By Thanksgiving she was incontinent, and at times not lucid.  Finally hospice put a hospital bed in the living room along with a commode so she wouldn't have to use all of her energy walking to and from bed and such.  We had a routine, and although it may not seem like what a normal 20 year old would be doing, I enjoyed being there.  One day she told me that she was ready to die.  She had no fear.  She wanted to be in heaven.

One night after getting her back in bed, she couldn't catch her breath.  I called my boyfriend (who is now my husband) and he and his mother rushed over.  We ended up calling an ambulance and my grandmother was admitted to the hospital.

While in the hospital so many of her church members stopped by to talk.  We played Christmas music non stop and sang to her and read her bible to her.  I remember one day looking at her nails and realizing that she needed a manicure, so I sat by her and cut, filed, and painted her nails.  Now, every time I sit to do the same to mine or Emmalyn's I have that same memory.

I spent every night with her at the hospital.  Some nights she was perfectly fine and some nights she would have flashbacks from when her son was a little boy or she would wake up yelling my name.  Finally, on December 15, she told me she wanted to go home.  She didn't want to die in that hospital bed.  I talked to her doctor and expressed that there was nothing being done at the hospital that I couldn't do for her at home and if that was where she wanted to take her last breath then that's where she should be.  The doctor agreed and we went home that day via ambulance.

After getting settled in at home where I had decorated for Christmas, my grandmother was visited by many friends, family, and church members.  In and out they came.  Her cousin came that night to sit with her while I slept and woke me up every 4 hours so I could give her her medicine.  I had called my aunt Cindy that day and told her she should come (from NC) to say goodbye.

On December 16, my aunt and her family made it to SC.  People from my grandmother's church brought us food and stayed to sing Christmas carols and read the Christmas story to my grandmother.  After lunch they left and my grandmother was surrounded by only family, and Caleb.  We sat talking of memories and laughing at old stories all while her breaths got more and more shallow.  My mom finally decided to leave not wanted to be around when she passed.  Night had come and I sat with her along with my aunt, my brother, Caleb and my cousin.

after a couple of hours, I can't tell you what it was, but something told me that it wouldn't be long.  I climbed in bed with my grandmother and whispered to her that we would be okay and there was no reason for her to hold on any longer.  As I said this, I saw her eyebrows relax from being burrowed and she looked to be at such peace.  Her last breath was so clean and pure.  Anyone that does not believe in Jesus should have been in that room because there was no mistaking that someone/thing was in there with us.  I knew then, that my great grandmother, the 87 year old woman who had become my best friend, was no longer on this earth.  She was at peace in the place she worked to get to her entire life.

After this experience, I have not feared death.  And even though this is not a typical experience of a college student, I would not be the christian, wife, mother, or friend that I am today without it.  I definitely don't have it all right, but I"m much better at those things than I was before being so close to my grandmother.  God is amazing in life and in death - because it doesn't just end there.  Every December 16 I do remember my great grandmother and all that she taught me, but I mostly celebrate where she is now instead of the life that she led.


  1. Kayla, this was so beautifully written. It brought me to tears and I never even knew her! What a precious relationship you two had!! Thank you for sharing this!

  2. thinking of you today! know how special she was to you and what a big part of HER life YOU were!


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