Sunday, January 22, 2012

S. Ann Thomas

As a kid, I was never one to understand why people were so upset when their grandparents passed away. My father’s father passed away before I was born and Grandma Stout wanted to be with him since the day he died. My mother’s parents lived in California and we visited them every other or every year. My Linda-mom’s parents also lived in California. I never really knew the role grandparents could have in someone’s life. My mom’s grandfather, or “Papa” as he was known, had a stroke when I was about twelve and I remember mom crying and feeling so sad about it. But to me, he was just old. He had always been old. And that’s what happened to people when they get old.

Then, when I was 13, my step-dad Craig came into our lives and brought with him the best Grandparents a kid could ever ask for. Grandpa Hale would call us up and then swing by and take us to a movie. AND he would buy popcorn. Popcorn! He wrote us poems for our birthdays and made personalized cards. He made us feel like we had always been his grandkids. And he absolutely loved us. I came to understand what having grandparents meant.  His health started rapidly declining when I was 20 and when I had been in the MTC for a month, he passed away. I cried. A lot. I still cry because I miss him so much.

My mother’s parents moved to Utah about 18 years ago, but I didn’t get to know my Gram until after my Grandfather passed away. I realized that she must be pretty lonely without him. I was pretty lonely without Anna. They passed away 8 ½ months apart. So once a week I started coming down to visit Grandma. I came to learn what a fun sassy lady she was. We became friends. She’d take me to dinner for my birthday and took me shopping for a gift. We would sit out on her porch and eat a popsicle and just talk for a while. I’d go with her to the monthly Macy’s one day sale to buy someone a wedding gift. She wrote me faithfully while I was a missionary and told me how proud she was of me. Since I moved back home with my mother, I went over at least once a week to visit her. She became my best friend.

She was taken to the hospital on September 10, 2011. For the 18 days she was in the hospital, I went before work, during lunch, and after work, even if she was just sleeping, just so I could be with her. It was hard to see her having such a hard time. She was then diagnosed with stomach cancer and sent home to recover from surgery. I went over every morning and we had breakfast together. She would always have a bowl and a spoon for the both of us sitting on the counter waiting for me. I also went over right after work. She would ask me what I had planned for the night and tell me how fun it sounded. Then I would come over the next morning and she would ask me how it went. She knew everything.

Right before Thanksgiving, she was diagnosed with lung and liver cancer. She decided against chemotherapy and radiation treatments. She started making pancakes, scones, eggs, and bacon for breakfast. When she started declining, I slept over at her house. It was a privilege, you know. No one was ever allowed to lie on her bed since it would flatten the feather tick and the down comforter and then it would take ten minutes to remake the entire bed. But I got to. And it felt like I was sleeping in a feather cacoon. And then I got to start taking care of her and making sure she was comfortable and had everything she needed. I remembered how I had thought my mom a little crazy for being so heartbroken when Papa started declining. But then I understood. Maybe people get old and things happen. But this is my old person. And it hurt like the dickens to realize that she was slipping away.
Grandma passed away last Thursday night. I was relieved she was finally able to leave and let go. But now I just feel empty and sad. I miss my friend. It’s not that I don’t know that I will see her again. It’s not that I don’t think she’s isn’t in pain anymore. It’s not that I don’t think she’s in a better place. I know all those things. It’s the pain of the sudden severance of association. That her house is empty now and the light isn’t on, waiting for me to come over. That the conversation between us is now just a bunch of memories that, with time, I will start to forget.

However, she has given me so much. She taught more about what it meant to be an adored granddaughter. And I am so thankful to have a Gram who was such a wonderful noble woman. A woman I will continue to honor. And one that I can never forget.


smitty said...

Who you are is already an honor to her. You already pass along her wonderful noble reputation. She was such a wonderful friend to you, and you already pass along that love to everyone you meet.

Plus, you have a cute bum and give a killer pedicure!

Anne said...

Even though I didn't know your Grandma well I did get to see her in action. I'm thankful for her sweetness and the way she served others.

Shauna said...

I love this tribue Amanda and I know how much she must have loved you. I sure do. I got to meet her several times and she was a warm, wonderful woman!

Josh and Anna said...

Beautiful tribute Amanda, I'm so sorry for your loss. I have been thinking a lot about your family this week. Hope you are doing ok:)

Paul and Court said...

What a beautiful post! You were such a great granddaughter to her. How selfless of you to take such great care of her the last few months of her life. A lot of people never become as good of friends with their grandparents as you were with your Grandma. I'm so glad you had such a great relationship with her. :)

Kate and Blake plus 3 said...

Oh Amanda, I'm so sorry for you and your family. This post is beautiful, you are a wonderful, sweet, kind and hilarious person...sounds like you shared those traits with your grandma. My heart goes out to you.