My Grandmother Ruth

scooting around great grandma, originally uploaded by katiek2.

My grandmother died on December 8th around 6pm. What a crazy couple of days is was leading up to her death. Like I said before I was at the “party of the year” when I heard she was at the point of decline. Her fall that previous Monday had left her unable to breathe very well because she bruised herself across her chest. Pnemonia set in and it took her a week later. She was the last one to go. She had lived with her husband and sister for decades and they both went on before her. She was still lucid, unlike my grandfather and great aunt, so losing her was different. We didn’t see a decline of her mind to the point where she could not interact or enjoy her surroundings. The weekend before she was sitting in Mom’s living room watch her 5 great grandchildren run circles around her. She was almost deaf, we only communicated with her through her Pocket Talker (a mic hooked up to ear phones) and we still had to speak deliberately. The children would love to serenade her through her microphone.
My grandmother was a wonderful woman. Her hearing loss seperated us. I think we could have had a closer relationship had her hearing not been so bad for pretty much my entire mature life. She was creative and unstoppable. Sound familiar? I laugh to realize my heritage. She was a wonderful seamstress. She loved flowers, gardening and arranging plants and flowers. She wanted everything to match. And even if she scraped together odd fabrics that no one else wanted, she made lemonade out of lemons. For example: a tablecloth my mother recently showed me had some odd embroidery on it. What my grandma had done was to cover a stain with an embroidered flower. Frugal to the core. It even bothered my mom, and my mom is pretty frugal too. And so am I, at least to the world I am.
I was named after my grandmother. My middle name was Ruth, until I changed it when I got married. My grandmother was a firey red-head, and she was so overjoyed to see my two copper-tops: Josiah and Eden. My grandmother made my wedding dress, It was the last great sewing project she took on. She loved with deeds.
So when her knee sugery didn’t take and she ended up with a staff infection and in a nursing home her feelings of usefulness began to effect her joy. Although her body was weak, when I would visit her (which was not nearly enough), I would talk with her about the funny things the kids were doing and what they were learning. I would flip through the photos on my phone and show her our antics. She has a digital frame that Mom set up for her full of wonderful memories. She has some good ones. A simple life of a missionary, a wife of a teacher and preacher. There is a color of brown that will always remind me of my Grandma Moore. There is a smell that is a mixture of dusty books and pie crust that will always remind me of her house that she tended until her knee joint was grinding itself to a stop. I am surrounded by her fingerprints. The ornaments on my tree, the sewing box and scissors she gave me. The teacup and saucer on my window sill, the skillet I cook pancakes in (with the numbers all worn off the dial), the heating pad I used during my pregnancy and post partum with Tessa. The apron I wear, the objects I use for still life projects for my students. The little fawn dish that still smells of talcum powder. The birthday cake I make my children. The dresses hanging in my daughters closet. Oh I will miss her! I am who I am because she was so faithful to pray for me. I know I would not be who I am without her going to God over and over for me. And I carry her creativity in my veins. I wish I had learned how to sew dresses from her. I wish I had stopped to listen to her tell the stories of her missionary years in rural Kentucky. How did she have my mother in such a difficult place?
On Sunday the 6th Joel let me sleep in. At 8:30 I got a phone call and it was Mom telling me that they were taking my grandmother off the breathing machine and she may be gone in an hour. I threw on some clothes, my hair still smelled of firepit from the Main Event, I walked dazed through Memorial and found someone to help me get there along with a friend from New City. Grandma was peaceful for the most part, but she was having agonized breathing. I compare it to labor, but it’s in the other way. She was laboring toward her new birth into a new life. It was hard. We sang, we cried, we read scripture. I spent alot of time running my fingers over her forehead into her white hair. I knew that was all I could do. That, and love on my mom. I stayed for 2.5 hours. It was surreal to already be so sleep deprived and then have such an emotional experience. I had to teach the whole next day and I tried to push those feelings of not knowing down. And on Tuesday I planned to deliver whatever my mom needed. I planned to go earlier in the day but I didn’t make it. I then planned to go after dinner. My grandma died during dinner. I told my mom I was going to bring her her project to work on, “Now you don’t have to, Kate.” she said. My mom has been a caretaker for 12 years. It will be an interesting transition. But whatever comes next, me and my family know that the temporary longing of missing that loved one is overcome by the joy and hope that Jesus has given us. Telling my children that Great Grandma is not in a wheelchair anymore, she doesn’t need her microphone anymore, and who knows, her hair may be red again. It’s a wonderful hope, and I love seeing my children, the next generation embracing that hope and carrying the heritage we are so blessed to have.


3 thoughts on “My Grandmother Ruth

  1. What a thoughtful and beautiful tribute to her. She sounds like a pretty amazing lady. Strange that we spent the freezing wee hours with you guys right before all this. It means so much, all those tiny little reminders you have of her through out your house. Those tangible reminders become so precious. I am sorry for the missing I know your family feels but it sounds like a life well lived going home to a place of healing and joy incomprehensible. Love and prayers to your family.

  2. kate,
    thanks for writing this. it was hard for me to not be there. it was probably the most homesick i’ve ever been. grandma showed so much love to us. I’m bummed that i won’t be able to come down next week either. love, kirk

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