Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Happy 86th Grandma Lois

Today, February 6, 2013, would have been my Grandma Lois' 86th Birthday. Instead, she is celebrating 1 month and 1 day (according to 'time' as I know it) of seeing the face of Jesus. Since I hadn't yet posted her visitation or funeral, I thought today would be a good day to do so.

The last time I saw Grandma Lois outside of the hospital was on Christmas Eve. She seemed to be doing well and enjoying herself. I was fortunate to have sat next to her during present opening time. At some point during the night when she got up to go towards the bathroom, Kyle and I happened to be right there so we grabbed her walker away from her and let her hold onto us for a picture in front of the Christmas tree. Looking back, I am so thankful that we decided to take that picture.

I left to go to Lake Tahoe for a ski trip on December 29th, and on December 31st after a full day of skiing I was looking on Facebook and saw that my aunt had posted that my grandma was admitted to the hospital. When I talked to my mom that night, she said that grandma was diagnosed with pneumonia.

The below picture was taken on Thursday night, January 3, 2013. There is more information about this night in my "Memories of Grandma" write-up below, but this was the last night that I had a conversation with her, and it was also the last night that she knew I was there. On Friday morning, after some scary breathing episodes for her this night and throughout the early morning hours, the doctor told  everyone that the infection was spreading faster and faster and that there was nothing more that could be done. At that point, my dad and his siblings decided to start her on comfort care. This consisted of morphine and ativan to relax her. Given that she was not eating and was already very weak, this pretty much meant that she was not alert. I was at the hospital Friday morning, but went to work Friday afternoon and I missed the Amazing Grace session that everyone was so moved by and during which time my grandma was alert for a bit.
On Saturday, I spent the morning at the hospital and left for the afternoon to go to the gym and to see my Grandma Hazel. I got back to the hospital around 4pm or so, and at about 6:30pm that night Grandma Lois took her last breaths. We (myself, Lindsay, Jocelyn, Kevin, Jennifer, Todd and Colby - hopefully I remembered everyone) were all sitting around her bed and about 20 minutes prior had asked the nurse if she looked a little ashen. The nurse confirmed what we thought, and she made the comment that she would be surprised if my grandma was still here for breakfast the next morning. As we continued to talk, I happened to look over and I didn't see grandma's chest moving anymore. At that point she was probably taking a breath every 15 seconds, and that went on for a couple more minutes until she just stopped breathing completely. I called my dad (he had just left to go get something to eat) while she was still breathing and put the phone up to her ear so he could say his last words to her.

I didn't think that I wanted to be there when she took her last breath, but I am so thankful I was. It was the most peaceful situation, and I just kept wondering what my grandma was experiencing during those last moments on earth as she was entering the kingdom of heaven. I know that it was a beautiful thing for her. About a half hour after she died, her cell phone rang and it was her pastor from the 1960s and 70s. My dad told him the news, and he put him on speaker so he could pray and then everyone sang Amazing Grace.

Kevin and Jocelyn's church provided lunch to the family prior to the visitation. My parents had everyone over to their house.

Visitation was held on Thursday night, January 10th. The visitation and funeral were held on the exact date 24 years to the day of those for my Grandpa Lyle. The visitation was also in the exact same room at Green Acres.

Kellyn and I (and Kyle when we had a long way to go at midnight the night before) made these picture boards to display at the visitation and funeral.

The funeral was held on Friday, January 11 at First Southern Baptist Church of Scottsdale.

Montana sang "I Stand Amazed."
 My dad did the eulogy.
Colby, Kellyn and I shared "Memories of Grandma."

Aunt Colleen wrote a "Letter to Mom."
Tyler sang Amazing Grace.
I don't have pictures, but Uncle Kevin put together an amazing slideshow (as usual), and Pastor Rob did the message.

Afterwards there was a short reception at the church. This is a picture with Pastor Rentz and his wife.
My family.

Grandma's surviving brothers and sisters. All of them made the trip to AZ to be at the funeral.
With spouses.
We then went to Green Acres for the graveside service. Grandma was then escorted to her final resting place by all of her grandsons.

Memories of Grandma - this is what I shared at the funeral. It is kind of a long read, so I am including it more for my information so I have it saved somewhere.

This last week as I have been reflecting on my Grandma Lois' life and the approximately 30 years of memories that I have with her, the overarching theme is her consistent presence in my life. I have memories of her being at birthday parties, family get-togethers, holiday gatherings, sports events, church and school presentations, high school and college graduation, and numerous vacations, including both Rust Family Reunions and our almost annual summer vacations to Lake Tahoe. Even in recent years as walking became more and more difficult for her, she attended ASU graduation ceremonies for myself, my brother, my sister and my mom. This meant a longer walk from the parking lot, up a ramp and then down stairs in the basketball arena. All with no complaints - she always wanted to be there to support us. My grandma was also a very detail-oriented person. When she would write postcards on our vacations, she would usually say something to the effect of "It is now 12:54pm on X date and ..." Her stories were also very detailed, although in her more recent years her general response to questions was "I have no idea." I am extremely thankful for this last year that I was able to spend with Grandma Lois. A year ago, I was living in New York City. After 3.5 years on the east coast, I moved back to AZ in March 2012. While I enjoyed the big city, I was ready to move back to AZ to be with family and friends, but most of all to be closer to both of my grandmothers. Given the death of Grandma Lois, and the cancer diagnosis of my other grandma, I will never again question God's timing - He lined up a job here without me pursuing any opportunity and that has allowed me to spend more Grandma time, which I will forever cherish. One memory that I will remember for the rest of my life is my last conversation with my grandma, which occurred last Thursday evening in her hospital room. I arrived there and my Aunt Jocelyn was the only other person there. This is when Grandma was still being treated for pneumonia, and Jocelyn was struggling with her to try to put the oxygen mask close to her face. Grandma was really supposed to be wearing the mask, but she did not like that thing and wanted nothing to do with it. I came into the room and held her hands so she couldn't pull the mask away and Jocelyn kept reassuring her that she was just going to hold the mask in front of Grandma and would not put it on her face. In the midst of this, Grandma said to me, "Kristin, I thought you were a good Christian lady, why are you doing this to me?" Of course I said this is all I know how to do and that we were trying to help her. We continued to talk and try to distract her from the breathing mask, and out of the blue she made the statement that she thought all day that Jesus was going to come and chauffeur her home and that she really wanted to see Lyle. At that point I knew that she was ready to go home. The two verses that I have been focusing on this week are Philippians 1:21 when Paul writes "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain" and the other is in John 11. This is the passage where Lazarus dies and Jesus arrives to raise Lazarus from the dead. Before he raises Lazarus Jesus is having a conversation with Martha, Lazarus's sister, and verse 25 reads "Jesus said to her I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live." Life is going to look differently for me now as all of those memorable events that I mentioned a few minutes ago will continue to happen without Grandma Lois being present. However, my Grandma knew Jesus, and so we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is now more alive than she has ever been. Jesus came to chauffeur her home on January 5, 2013, and I look forward to the day when He comes to chauffeur me home as well. I love you Grandma, and this is not good-bye but rather, "See you later."


Kevin Horton said...

Great pictures and a great recap. Thanks Kristin.

Roger Horton said...

Thank-you Kristen, that was nice. love you

Mikele said...

I'm so glad you were here to spend these last wonderful moments with her. The picture boards are amazing!

Janis said...

Kristin-a beautiful tribute to grandma