I answered the phone, and could tell from his voice that the news was not good.
“Gwen, I wanted to call and let you know that your Grandmother passed away this morning,” Dad said with a catch in his voice. This was not totally unexpected: Grandma was 93 and had grown increasingly weaker. She had spent many years in a nursing home, in a wheelchair, not recognizing most of us. Dad and I talked a few minutes about her and her life and he said he would call back later with the funeral arrangements.
The next day, the phone rang.
“Gwen, uh, this might be one of the oddest phone calls you will ever get.”
Dad continued and explained that after finding out about his mom, his phone call with his sister, who was there at the hospital, was cut off. He couldn’t find her number and it was a while till he found his brother-in-law’s number to call back. Finally, he got a hold of Brian.
“Brian, I just wanted to know if there were any funeral arrangements yet?” Dad asked.
“Well, she’s got to die first,” he responded.
“Yeah, they took her off life support and she rallied – started breathing on her own. Debbie stepped out after a while. She stopped a nurse on her way back into the hospital and asked her, how was Mrs. Christopher doing? Nurse said, last she heard, she sat up and was singing ‘You are my Sunshine’ and telling everyone she loved them.”
I think that was about the best phone call I ever got. Dad and I were so happy. He warned, though, that the doctors were not optimistic for a recovery. In fact, it seemed like the end really was near.
I stopped to think about my memories of Grandma. I grew up in Tennessee and she was in Ohio, so we didn’t see her too often. She had a tiny little house and a Volkswagon beetle that she drove to church every week. In every room there were little plastic signs that said, “Thank you for not smoking”. The back room was set up like a hospital ward, where for decades she had cared for a severely mentally handicapped sister. This, after raising seven kids on her own. She truly had a servant’s heart.
The morning after the last call from my dad, my husband spoke to me after I had woken up, “Hey, your dad called really late last night. I thought it was kind of strange, but he said to tell you that Grandma had really passed away.”
Take care Grandma. I love you and know you are happy and singing again.