Wednesday, March 2, 2011

I'm Back...

…more or less.

First off, I want to give my deepest thanks and a crushing bear hug to all my readers and followers for their heartfelt condolences following the passing of The Queen’s grandmother. A lot of people think that society is becoming less caring and polite. I find it comforting that people who only know me through my erratic and deranged writings can express their sympathy for the loss of someone they’ve never met. It gives me a small amount of hope for the basic goodness of mankind.

Surprisingly, everything went smoothly following grandma’s passing. If you ever get to know my in-laws and their planning skills, you will understand how momentous a statement that really is. The hospice nurse was at the house within 45 minutes to pronounce her death. Coincidentally, a repairman showed up at the house to fix grandma’s adjustable hospital bed a little bit after that. He had apparently been called sometime ago by the hospice folks even though the bed belongs to the family and not rented through Medicare. When we told him that his services were no longer necessary due to grandma’s death, he informed us that he was also the guy who also picks up any rental equipment. So, the oxygen tank, bedside table, potty chair, etc. all left the house before grandma did. The hospice nurse took care of calling the funeral home. A very nice gentleman came by the house and had grandma wrapped in a sheet and laid on a stretcher in less than 10 minutes including the several minutes required to get the stretcher in the house and around our furniture obstacle course. Everything was taken care of by 3:00 PM including dismantling the hospital bed, sweeping the floor and disposing of items no longer necessary.

There were tears from The Queen (and a few from your humble Shepherd as well – it’s hard not cry when my Queen tears up). Understandably so as she was very close to her grandma and the one present with grandma when she finally passed. I was close by since my office is located right next to the room where grandma spent her last 7 months. My mother in law is taking things very well for having just lost her mother. So far, she has shown no outward signs of grief.

There were a few moments of laughter too. When grandmother passed, she was lying on her side curled up in her bed and her mouth was wide open. The hospice folks cleaned her up to get her ready for the funeral home and straightened her out on the bed so she was lying on her back. However, when they finished, grandma’s mouth was still wide open. The Queen, her father and I were standing there in grandma’s room chatting about one thing or another, and I had a sudden snark attack that could not be controlled. I said, while head nodding towards grandma’s open mouth: “Hey, you know, we could have a game of pitchin’ pennies.” That got a giggle or two.

There was no funeral or memorial service. Grandma had made it clear she did not want a fuss made over her. Besides, most of the family is scattered over large parts of Texas and California making a single location funeral service impractical. Even though she already had a burial plot bought and paid for back in California next to her husband, the decision was made to have her cremated. We did have a small family gathering of immediate family at my brother in law’s place in Granbury on Saturday. We planned it at the BIL’s place because my FIL and MIL had not felt free to leave the house due to grandma’s condition. You could tell that they really enjoyed being able to get out without worrying about who was taking care of grandma.

We all seem to be doing good overall, but we are still adjusting. Grandma was such a fixture in the house and the routine so ingrained that we are just now getting comfortable with the change. On Saturday, my MIL mentioned that she still goes through the kitchen and thinks about what she needs to cook for grandma. I’ve caught myself a couple of times on my way to my office looking to where grandma’s bed was to see how she’s doing. We’ve all teased each other about “Okay, who’s going to wake up grandma?”

If I had to use one word to describe how we are all feeling at this point, I would have to say “relief”. That may sound callous to some, but it’s the truth. When you’ve watched someone you love go from being a vibrant, outgoing person of tremendous faith to what I described the other day as a “geriatric infant” - someone who can no longer care for themselves, carry on a basic conversation or even recognize their own name, then you will understand. We are thankful that her passing was peaceful as we prayed it would be. We are thankful for the time we had together with her. Above all, we are thankful for our faith through which we know we will get to spend time with her again.

In closing, I’d like to share a few photos of grandma with you from the time that I’ve known her.

This photo was taken on my visit to California with The Queen to meet Grandma for the first time when she was still living on her own. This was probably 1998 or 1999. Remember the hat.

Grandma being escorted down the aisle at The Queen's and my wedding. The tall, goofy lookin' guy escorting her is my now brother in law. Remember the dress.

This photo is from the fall of 2005. Grandma was a person of great faith. She got down on her knees to pray and read her Bible everyday until she was no longer able to kneel or see. Even as her eyesight faded, she wasn't going to let that stand in her way. Her magnifying glass was always tucked into her Bible. Even when the magnifying glass was not enough and her body would no longer allow her to kneel, she would mutter prayers to God whenever she felt the need to be close to Him.

Remember the dress and the hat? She made it her daily task to shuffle out to the mail box after which she would sit in the front yard to watch the world go by. This photo is from June of Texas (not long before she had her fall that precipitated her slow decline). She absolutely loved her long, warm velvet dresses, and she would not be caught dead out in public without her hat. Once upon a time, she went to a thrift store with The Queen and The Queen Mum for a little shopping. She sat at the front of the store on a bench with her hat in her lap, and someone walked by and dropped a dollar bill in her hat. We joked that they needed to take her shopping more often.


  1. She sounds like a wonderful lady. Love the hat and dress :)

    And welcome back, Shepard K.

    Oh Lord, word verification: irest

  2. Thanks to you both North and GunDiva.

  3. Unfortunately, that generation is a great resource that we are all quickly losing.

    I was very close to my grandmother and grandfather. My grandfather passed away about 8 years ago and my grandmother is still alive but her health is slowly diminishing. I credit them with helping make me the person that I am today.

    Blue Steel

  4. Blue Steel, I couldn't have said it better myself. My grandparents and great grandparents all had a hand in making me the person I am too.

    Unfortunately, the kind of wisdom of the passing generations is mostly lost on the young. My mother is the family geneaologist, and she is hoping that the younger generation takes an interest so that the legacy of three generations of work (so far) can be passed on and continued.

  5. What a wonderful tribute :o)

    welcome back.


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