I once gave my Grandma Jones a magnet that said, ‘when the going gets tough, head to grandma’s’ and head there I would, when the going got tough.
The going got tough many times during my apprenticeship.
And the times when I was left to look after the business while my parents were overseas on their much needed holiday, I would head to grandma’s.
I had many difficult conversations with builders on the back steps of grandma and pa’s house in Salisbury. I remember one particular conversation with a builder that had me outside for half an hour.
The builder wouldn’t take my no for an answer as he wanted us to do a drainage job near the Brisbane River, without provision for shoring which was necessary for the depth that needed to be dug.
Grandma would linger near the doorway, hoping I was ok in handling the call.
After particularly stressful days when I’d be managing on my own, I’d drive dad’s ute to grandma’s.
She would give me a cup of tea, and put on a display of afternoon treats including chocolate cake, cupcakes, her nougat/muesli slice and cherry topped biscuits.
Grandma was a baker and even though her three sons had moved out of the family home many, many years ago, she was still in the habit of baking a storm each week for any visitors that would come over. Often she would send me home with a banana bread and a stash of fruit that sometimes was not fit for consumption.
I miss those afternoon teas.
After an incredibly hectic day, dad would insist on visiting grandma and pa on the way home from work and sometimes I would get frustrated because I would want to get home. But I’m glad dad would insist on heading there anyway. Those afternoon teas are great memories for me.
I’ve got wonderful memories of grandma. She would always encourage me, saying what a great help I was to my dad and that doing my apprenticeship was a very good thing. She would always have a smile and encouraging word.
After my grandpa passed away at the beginning of 2011, we all noticed grandma’s health had deteriorated and she was diagnosed with dementia. A shopping trip to get grandma an outfit for my cousin’s wedding was an eye-opener for me as I helped her try on clothes. She wasn’t taking care of herself and those delicious biscuits and cakes that she would so proudly offer, became inedible.
As she moved from low to high care at her nursing home, it was hard to watch the once bubbly and smiling grandma, turn insular and despondent.
On her Birthday in May, I sat next to her wheelchair and she would talk jibberish to me. I’d nod and smile, not knowing really what to say.
As we sat together, while the rest of the family ate or were busy in conversation, Grandma smiled at me and then looked at her great grandchildren as they played on the playground. I’m not sure if for a few seconds she realized who I was or that her family were near.
On Saturday, mum and dad got the call that it would be best to come up and say goodbye. I was napping at the time when Jacob took the call. I wondered if I should go up and see her, but my parents told me to remember grandma how she was because it was very confronting to see grandma as she was now.
On Sunday I busied myself with church and family, but by Monday morning I was feeling down and I made the decision to go and see grandma. A good friend told me it would be the last opportunity to tell her how much she meant to me and to tell her I loved her.
I ended up picking my dad up as he had the card to get access to her room. Dad warned me before we went into her room that I had to be prepared for what I was about to see.
It was hard.
The tears flowed freely and I held onto Grandma’s hand as I told her how much I loved her. I reflected on memories and told her how much she meant to me. I talked to her about future events like what I was going to wear next week to the Melbourne Cup Function I’m a guest speaker at. I told her how I couldn’t decide whether to wear a navy or red fascinator with my new navy dress. You see blue was my grandma’s favourite colour and red was (and still is) mine.
I told her about church and a bit about blogging. I asked her how she coped with three children, because there were many days where I felt I didn’t cope very well my three young girls.
I spent an hour with grandma, holding her clasped hand.
When I opened her hand to put my hand in hers, there was a slight grip, but I’m not sure whether it was intentional or whether it was a reflex action from her body.
When dad and I went to leave and say goodbye, there was a movement of her mouth and a slight moan, which again, I’m not sure was her communicating with us. I’m going to believe that she was. But even though she could no longer tell us she loved us, she’d spent the majority of her life showing it.
At 2:35am this morning, grandma went to Heaven and most likely had a huge welcoming party which included my grandpa and the elderly people she and grandpa would visit, when no one else would.
Despite knowing the end was soon for grandma, it’s never easy saying goodbye.
When I told Esther that Grandma Jones had passed away this morning she asked me if I had prayed with her. To be honest, I can’t remember if I prayed but I said yes anyway, because all of us had prayed that she would suffer no more. Esther then comforted me and said, “it’s okay mummy, Grandma Jones is with Jesus, isn’t that right Maggie?”
I’m so very thankful for the Christian role model my grandma was to me. It’s my prayer that I can model the same love she shared to those around her.
You will be very much missed Grandma, thank you for teaching us that love is an action. xx