Monday, January 24, 2011

My Grandma

This morning I said goodbye to my dear, sweet grandmother, MayBell Hoopes Burton. My grandma was born on Nov. 18, 1917. She passed away on January 9, 2011. 93 years of loving and living! Grandma was the mother of 8, the grandmother of 51 and the great grandmother of 123. Wow! She lived her life with grace (and spunk!)
To know her was to love her and boy, was she loved! The love that filled the room at Grandma's funeral today was so strong you could almost touch it!
I've had very mixed feelings today and the last couple of weeks. I miss my grandmother so much it hurts. But, I've been missing her for a long time now. In her last years she suffered from Alzheimer's. Grandma hasn't been Grandma in years. Along with sadness and missing Grandma, I am so very happy for her that she has joined my grandfather in their heavenly home. At the funeral my cousin, Shawn made the comment that the Alzheimer's may have been a blessing in disguise. If she had known that Grandpa was gone for the last 5 years she would have missed him terribly.

I'd like to share a story that my sister, Valerie wrote for a school paper. She has such a beautiful way with words and a soul wiser than her 15 years.

A 93 year old woman was lying on her hospital bed, looking off into space, a space that no one else could go. When my sister and I walked in she looked at us with those lifeless, vacant brown eyes. "Hi Grandma," said Brittany. There was no response. We went over and sat on the bed next to her. The age spot covered fingers that used to be busy crocheting and filling the kitchen with the aroma of homemade bread and cookies were now rigid and grasping my hand so tight, as if asking for help.
She wasn't always like this. She used to be a strong minded, witty person who was always full of life. Whenever I went to her house she would get off of her little rocking chair, take me to the kitchen, where she'd pick me up and set me on the red counter top and find some kind of delicious dessert in the freezer. She unfailingly saved desserts in her freezer for when company would come over. Something was always baking in the aluminum pans that filled the house. Grandma made the yummiest banana chocolate chip cookies in the world!
Other than her family, her favorite things was the red and yellow tulips that grew every spring in front of her little blue house. Her life had once been vibrant and colorful, but was now fading into winter, just as the flowers had done, right before my helpless eyes.
We tried to talk to her, but she would never respond. You could almost see the fear that she had within each pore. Lines and creases covered her face. I looked at those familiar brown eyes, but no spark of recognition when she looks back at me. She doesn't know who I am. I'm a stranger in the room. How can you miss someone so much when she's sitting right before you?
The old woman that I used to know is slipping through the cracks of time. Alzheimer's is hard on everyone who surrounds the person that it has control over. Every goodbye between us is long and lingering. We never know which one will be our last.

My Grandma Burton taught me so much, simply by living her life. She made the world a better place just by being a part of it. I pray that I can follow in her footsteps. It's a comfort to know that this is not goodbye and I will see her again someday.