My dear, deceased Grandpa Peter was the father of my mother and her two older brothers. My beloved Papa is the father of my younger uncle and two aunts and step-father of my mother and her two older brothers. My precious Grandma was the mother to us all.
That is why, I do believe, my grandmother's passing is going to be such a cataclysmic event. Her death will be the loss of a mother to six, the loss of a mother-in-law to another six, and the loss of a grandmother to nineteen grandchildren and grandchildren-in-law, and the loss of a great grandmother for my own two sons. In a quiet, unobtrusive way, Grandma Maureen was the person that united a very large family.
I'm not going to deify her or place her on an undeserved pedestal in this, my memorial to her life; because I know that, this side of glory, nobody if perfect. But I do want to honor her by dwelling on the happy memories I have of her and remembering her good character qualities.
Grandma was good to her family. She was always there for her children and grandchildren. She was a remarkable seamstress. She made many of my mother's picture day outfits and formal gowns for school dances as she was growing up. She was always eager to be involved in caring for anyone in her family that needed help, be it babysitting, incredibly tough back rubs, or sound advice from her years of experience. I'm sure my mother and her siblings saw the tough love side of Grandma that all mothers have, but I can't recall a single memory of her getting angry or raising her voice at anyone.
But what impressed me most about my grandma, especially here in her last months, weeks, and days on earth, was her faith. As I've stated before, Grandma Maureen has battled cancer since 2007 and had been given several estimated times of departure for her soul from this world to the next. As she approached each one, she did so with peace and a sense of readiness for the inevitable that I envy greatly. When all those previous expiration dates passed and she was still alive and kickin', she praised God for his kindness and mercy for allowing her to see events that all mothers and grandmothers want so badly to see before they die. Flying in the face of all her doctors' predictions, my grandma attended my wedding, saw eight of her grandchildren graduate high school, welcomed both of her great grandsons into the world with kisses, and danced at my cousin Kayla's wedding. She celebrated seven more birthdays than we thought she would.
Now, her time truly has come. As I type, she is nearing her end very quickly. They told us it should be within hours. It is crazy how quickly it happened. How suddenly she stopped being so alive. How very close she is and I am and we all are to her departure. I'm afraid I come across as uncaring during all of this since I have no idea what to do or say. I am amazed by how may people knew and cared for my grandma, as she and her bedside visitors have not gone a day without copious amounts of food, snacks, desserts, and drinks being provided by her friends. I am comforted and blessed by the ridiculously awesome family you can see in the above picture as we have traveled this journey together. But most note worthy of all, I am blessed to witness the crazy, irrational, impossible yet very real peace that surpasses human understanding that my grandma has had to carry her through this whole, long, painful ordeal. She is going to see her Savior and she knows it. I never once saw her cry. I saw several other people cry. I've cried myself. She did everything in her power to cheer us up.
Lord in heaven, I want that much faith very badly. I'd like to meet my death the same way she met hers: ready and willing. She knows it is not death to die for those who have trusted in Jesus. I know I will see her again, and that when we are reunited, this time apart will seem like the blink of an eye. Knowing this, I do feel peace. And that's why, when I told her goodbye, I said "I'll see you again soon." to which she replied, "Not too soon."
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.