What Do You Say?

Jul 23

What do you say when you know your words could be the last? Do you choose poignant ones and drop each one like a well-chosen bulb left to grow long after you’ve gone? Or do you carry on as usual and savor one last everyday conversation about your evening plans and the weather?

What do you say?

How do you walk from a room knowing when you see them again it may be on the other side of heaven? Do you walk out waving and crying and shouting “I love you’s”? Or do you leave them with one last touch of the hand and a sigh and exit with your wet eyes straight ahead?

How do you?

I stood next to my grandmother’s bed, reached over the rail, and held her hand. Her long bony fingers felt small in mine. Her skin was like the tissue paper in the top of a gift, thin and wrinkly. I stared at the veins on top of her hand and cried. “Don’t cry for me,” her words broke the silence. No tears had fallen to alert her to my distress and her dimmed eyes couldn’t see my face, but she knew. She always has.

“I’m crying for me, Grandmother,” I told her. “I’m going to miss you.” Just minutes before, she told me she was going to die. “Maybe, tonight,” she said. I couldn’t take it in. Ninety-four was a long life, but when is it ever easy to say good-bye? I stared at her wanting to say so much.

She squeezed my hand and shared, “I’ll be with you all the time. Grandmother will always be looking over you. If you need me, just call and know I’ll be sending you my love.”

I wanted to throw myself across her bed and weep. My pregnant belly, her high bed rail, the monitors she was hooked to, and my dignity kept me from it. “I’m ready to go,” she said. “I’ll just close my eyes and when I open them again, I’ll be face-to-face with Jesus.”

She wasn’t scared, but I was. Scared of the unknown. What will we do without her?

I finally rested in a chair not far away and watched her as she slept. I thought of her many stories of growing up during the depression, how to bake the best chess bars, and tales of my papaw and she when they married. I remembered the time I ran away – to her house, a mere two homes away from mine.

“Just let her stay,” I recalled her telling my mother when she came for me. “She needs some time with Grandmother and Papaw.”

I thought of all the times I’d called her upset, and she filled me with encouragement and wisdom. She has loved and lived with passion. I watched as the nurse came in to check her vitals and wondered if she realized what a living legacy was lying in that bed with white curly hair and wrinkles.

I desperately wanted to tell the nurse, “This isn’t just any ninety-four year old lady. This is…” I wondered how I would finish the sentence. What choice of words would convey exactly how I felt? Which one would accurately describe her life?

What do you say?

I looked up at the nurse, stroked the wrinkled forehead in front of me, and said it the way I knew best, “This is my grandmother.” 

Her children arise and call her blessed. Proverbs 31:28 NIV

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  • Peggy Jul 23 at 7:55 pm

    Oh Carol…here I am filled with tears but I could not help but rush over and leave you my love & wish I had the WORDS to say…to bring Comfort…to turn back the hands of time…to ease the loss yet I know NOTHING will compare to your beautiful tribute & words of this dear saint & your love for your gramma! How wonderfully precious!

    I am deeply grieved with you but JOY COMES IN THE MOURNING! And your dear sweet grandmother said it best

    “I’m ready to go,” she said. “I’ll just close my eyes and when I open them again, I’ll be face-to-face with Jesus.”

    Now you always write lovely & capture so well every day life experiences & applications of God's Word, but this outdoes them all!
    What a gift!!! What a sweet gift your grandmother has also! Moments to treasure but a lifetime to remember: the love, the treasures,
    the memories, her smile…

    May God send His angels & His Holy Spirit, the Comforter & Healer, who holds our hands as you held hers & He'll say, "Welcome, well done my good & faithful servant, Enter your rest!" Trust & believe…and LOVE all you can get in each passing moment! I love you, Carol & I know your grandmother & God does so much!

  • HisFIreFly Jul 23 at 9:01 pm

    What a loving tribute! You've brought me to tears.

    I was never really close to my father's mother, and my mother's mother died when I was only 1. I had a great aunt who stood in her place for me, and I loved her dearly. I pray she received Jesus before she left us so that one fine day we might be reunited.

  • Gina Jul 23 at 9:04 pm

    I started reading this while I was up at Emory with Grandmother. I started crying as I read it and couldnt continue. Now I'm home and trying to compose myself a bit better.

    I've been doing the same things when the nurses come in to check on her. I find myself trying to tell them about her. To make her more real to them. So that they know she hasn't always been this way. So they know ….that she's my grandmother.

  • Cheri Jul 23 at 10:03 pm

    That's just beautiful…

  • Melanie @ This Ain't New York Jul 24 at 2:26 am

    You've honored her so well. I am so sorry. What a testimony.
    Song of Solomon 2: 10-11
    He is her beloved!!

  • The Stokes Family Jul 24 at 2:41 am

    I know you told me this story earlier today but I'm emotional all over again reading it tonight. We are praying for you, your family and of course, for Grandmother. God has blessed all of you with such an incredible woman, hasn't He!

  • Kimberly Jul 24 at 4:10 am

    Wow, that was beautiful. Goodbye is not easy no matter how long the life!

  • Dana Jul 24 at 10:04 am

    Blessings to you.. No doubt your grandmother has left a piece of her legacy to live on in you. I've never met you and this is the first time I've even come across you blog, but I can tell what your life is about from what I see here. May you find piece in knowing that you come from a long line of love..


  • Cheryl Jul 24 at 1:02 pm

    Oh, what a gift he has given you. God is good all the time. I'm happy that He has blessed you so.

  • Mary Lou Jul 26 at 12:27 pm

    This brought tears to my eyes. You wrote a beautiful tribute.She will live on in your heart and you have such beautiful memories. I grieve with you for your loss, I also rejoice with you that you will see her on the other side of heaven. I also rejoice with you that you have nothing but good memories and she lived a full life and didn't waste what God gave her. We just buried my mother in law and just the opposite of her could be said, so that made this all the more beautiful to me. What you said about her is what we all should want said about us…may be all live each day as well as she did and finish as well. You are a very blessed family.

  • Sarah Jul 28 at 2:09 am

    What a beautiful legacy! You have honored her so beautifully. Praying for you.

  • Carol Davis Jul 30 at 12:03 pm

    Absolutely beautiful. Thanks for sharing that…

  • Becky Aug 17 at 12:29 am

    Just surfing and found you and this post….which really spoke to me.

    First of all…..beautifully said, and written ~ for a beautiful woman.

    Second of all….I can so relate.

    I adored my Grandmother, too. I wrote a blogpost about her for Mother's Day. She died a week later.

    If you are interested and have a minute, here is the link — the post is called, "Strength for the 'Do Not Die' Program": http://morningmistandscatteredclouds.blogspot.com/

    Look forward to checking in with you more.



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