I usually schedule my posts each Friday for the next week which is why this is my first post of the week. Last Wednesday afternoon, my Grammy passed away. This post is not only to let you know what has been going on but probably mostly for me to tell the story.
In February of 2010, my mom received word that my Grammy was very ill, in the hospital and probably would not live to see the end of the month. She immediately flew to Newport News, Virginia to take care of her. After assessing the situation and my Grammy, my mom decided that my Grammy should move to Atlanta and allow my immediate family to care for her. My Grammy had heart and kidney problems. We packed up all of her belongings, rented her house to a good friend and brought her to Atlanta.
My Grammy started to feel and do better almost immediately. We got her medications under control and she seemed to be thriving. Since I have a flexible work schedule, I offered to care for her during the day. This worked out well, she needed very little assistance and I could work at the same time. I made sure she took her pills, made her lunch and drove her to the beauty shop.
I know that when she moved to Atlanta, she was scared of being in a strange place and not having any friends. We realized quickly that she needed to get out of the house and mingle with more people. We found a Church program literally half a mile from my mom’s house that she started going to 3 days a week. She grew to love the people there, becoming great friends with not only them but with all the workers. Everyone loved her there too. She made friends with the woman at the beauty shop, the waitress at the IHOP and the priest at the Catholic Church. In a short year, she had formed a whole new community around her.
Last weekend, my mom and sister were out of town. That left my brother and I to care for my Grammy. I spent all day Friday with her and she was constantly out of breath. She couldn’t walk to the bathroom without getting very winded. She told me that it had been this way for days and that she had a doctors appointment the next week. That evening, my brother took over and I left. I received a call from him around 11:30pm telling me that my Grammy wanted to go to the emergency room due to her inability to breath and therefore sleep. I met them at the hospital at midnight.
We stayed up all night in the emergency room. My brother and I trying to keep her entertained and calm while the staff tried to stabilize her breathing and oxygen. At 7am, they admitted her into the CCU, the Cardiac Care Unit. At this point, my brother left and both my Grammy and I tried to get a little sleep. It was impossible, we were interrupted every 20 minutes by a doctor or a nurse doing something to my Grammy. The entire time, she was in such good spirits. She was feeling much better with the oxygen allowing her to relax. Neither of us slept until late that afternoon. I was able to go home and take a nap and the staff at the hospital left her alone enough to rest as well. When I returned that night, she was given sleeping pills to help her sleep.
She slept all through the night and most of Sunday. At this point, she started to tire of the constant poking and prodding and would tell any nurse or doctor to leave her alone. My mom returned home that evening and I finally went home to get actual sleep. My mom called me on Monday morning to tell me that the doctors could do nothing for her and that they were recommending hospice care in the hospital. After several meetings to make sure we were all on the same page, they moved her to Hospice on Monday afternoon.
My Grammy was very religious and had been refusing dialysis and other forms of care for a while. She was truly ready for Jesus to take her to heaven. When I showed up Tuesday morning, she had been started on morphine (a very small dose) and was feeling very good. She was talkative, making jokes and very excited for her little dog Pepe to come visit her. We were all enjoying her company but wondering how this energetic turnaround had occurred.
When I arrived on Wednesday morning, the scene was very different. She was very agitated and upset. She didn’t seem to be as coherent and lucid as she had always been. She nurse gave her some anti-anxiety medication and more morphine to comfort her. She finally was able to rest and that was the last time she was awake. I called my mom and she and my sister came to the hospital. We could tell by her face and was she was breathing that she may never wake up again. We called the Church and they sent someone to read the Divine Mercy to her. We all gathered around her, my brother had arrived at this time, and listened to the Divine Mercy. Halfway through, she stopped breathing.
My Grammy went peacefully, surrounded by loving family. She was ready for Jesus to take her. She was done with this earth and this body.
She was so funny, smart & witty. She could make jokes and lighthearted comments no matter how bad the situation was. She had 8 children and 10 grandchildren, her life was not easy. She lived through things that I may never understand. I cannot imagine a stronger woman. All the while, joking and making sure her hair and nails were done. She always said that a woman needs to look her best and she did right up until the end.
I am so glad that I got the opportunity to not only spend time with her this past year but this past week. I know in my heart that she new how I felt about her and I know that I did everything I could to help her in those last days. I miss her.