My Sweet Mamaw

Today marks one year since my Mamaw (daddy's mother) drew her last breath and went to be with her Savior. On October 14th, I was traveling home from Lansing, MI where I'd been for two weeks for training for my job with Auto-Owners Insurance. Longest two weeks of my life. I left my husband and 3 month old baby at home. I knew my grandmother was ill and no one knew for sure how much longer she'd live. When the two weeks were up, I was beyond excited to get home.

Rewind about 3 months. Waylon was less than two weeks old. My mom was at my house helping wherever she could. She agreed to watch Waylon while I went to get my haircut (my first time to leave him since he was born). When I got back, I found my mom rocking Waylon in his room with tears running down her face. Of course I was alarmed and asked what was wrong. That was the moment I learned my 91-year-old grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was numb. I don't think I cried at all. I tried to comfort my mom. But I couldn't digest the news I just received. I sent my mom home so she could be with my dad and assured her we would be just fine.

Jake, Waylon, and I traveled to Albertville the next weekend. I wanted Mamaw to meet Waylon. If I could do it all again, I would've gone a thousand more times. I am just grateful that she got to meet my baby boy and for the memories we captured.

Over the next couple of months, Mamaw was in and out of the hospital. They wound up doing a mastecomy, but the cancer had already begun to spread. My sweet dad and his siblings did everything in their power to help combat each epidsode. Finally, after the last trip to the hospital, they decided to take her home and make her comfortable. That was October 14, 2011.

When I received the phone call to update me on her condition on my way home from Michigan, I had a decision to make, and one that I've wrestled with for awhile. I landed in Birmingham in the late afternoon/early evening from a two week trip away from home. This was also about the time Waylon started getting fussy and needed to eat. I talked with my mom and she said nobody knew how long it might be but that hospice had been called in and it was likely a matter of days. After much discussion, we decided it would be best for Waylon and myself to get a good night's rest and head up the next morning. Mamaw passed away between 2:00am and 3:00am on October 15th. My decision to wait meant I didn't get to say goodbye or be there with the family in those final hours. When I got the phone call in the wee hours of the morning, I immediately knew. And I felt guilty. But my mom reassured me I made the right decision for my family at the time and everything would be okay.

Although I wasn't there, I was fortunate to hear the awesome stories of my family who did share those final moments with my sweet Mamaw. They brought her home the afternoon of October 14th. They had a hospital bed set up in her living room/dining room area. My sweet daddy whispered in her ear that he wished she could hear him tell her she was home now. Mamaw loved being at home and she loved having all of her family around her. So that is exactly what happened during her final hours on this earth. All of the family sat around her and reminisced good times we'd had together. There were lots of laughs. And lots of tears. They prayed. They hugged. They were together. The hospice nurse told them she could hear even though she couldn't respond. I believe she heard everything that was going on. And I believe that brought her to the place of peace she needed to let go because during the wee hours of the morning, when everyone had gone home and the house was quiet, she breathed her final breath and went to be with Jesus.

One of my cousins (Tammy) and her daughter (Julie) stayed with Mamaw after everyone left. Julie was studying to be a nurse and had been given permission by the hospice nurse to take vitals and things like that. Around 2:30am, Tammy woke Julie so they could check on Mamaw. I'm not exactly sure what woke them at that moment, but I am glad they did so that the family could have the first hand account of what happened next. They said Mamaw opened her eyes and had a big smile on her face as she took her last breath. I have no doubt what she was smiling about...she saw JESUS face-to-face for the first time! And I believe right beside Him were my Grandaddy and Jack waiting to hug her neck. (Jack is my daddy's brother who he's never met. He was hit and killed by a drunk driver while riding his bicycle when he was 9, before my dad was born). I KNOW there was a celebration in heaven on October 15, 2011.

While I mourn the loss of my precious Mamaw, I rejoice knowing that she is pain-free and worshiping the KING of KINGS hand-in-hand with Gran and Jack. I know she is perfect and happy. And I know I will see her again some day. I rejoice knowing she doesn't have to suffer another day. She doesn't have to miss Gran another day. She is home.

I still miss my Mamaw everyday. I have a couple of rocking chairs that used to sit on her front porch. I can't sit in those without thinking of her. I think of her often when I sing Waylon to sleep. I can almost hear her voice singing those familiar hymns like "Just As I Am." I always think of her while reading Proverbs. If she told me once, she told me a million times to read Proverbs everyday. That was good advice. I think of her when I make a good, Southern home-cooked meal because that's what she did every single day. I think of her in the afternoons when the sun starts to set because she loved to be outside during that time of day. I always smile when I think of her because she was obedient and faithful to her God. And for that, I'm grateful.

A lot has changed in the year she's been gone. Her house now belongs to someone else. That baby she held when he was just two weeks old is walking and talking. She now has another great-grandchild to add to the enormous number she had. It's crazy to think about things changing so quickly without her being here to enjoy it with us, but that proves the point that what you have or how much you have doesn't matter in the end. Mamaw didn't care about status or money. She valued her faith, her family, and her friends. And because of Mamaw's faithfulness to teach her children the ways of the Lord, we have hope and faith in Jesus and we know we will all be together again someday. This one sweet, short, fiesty little lady affected many generations. She has 6 living children of her own, 19 grandchildren, approximately 40 great-grands, and several great-great grands. My prayer is to be the strong, faith-fulled woman that she was.

I could go on for days about the lessons she taught me and the memories I have of her. Summers. Swimming lessons. Piano. Weekly phone calls from Arkansas. Flower gardens. Mashed Potatoes and cornbread. Family. She was one in a million. She absolutely adored Jake and oftened ran to hug his neck before she acknowledged I was in the room. That always meant so much to me. I didn't get upset because I never doubted how much she loved me. She had enough love to go around, that's for sure. She'd be proud to know I'm working toward staying home full-time and doing my best to cook, clean, and take care of our home for Jake and Waylon. She always told me those "jobs" were more important than anything else. Once again, she was right.

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