Tuesday, December 21, 2010

To Oklahoma I went...

My daily "Advent Calendar" posts quickly took a back seat last week when I got the news that I knew I'd get someday about my mom's mom. It's just that, despite knowing it would come, it was the last thing I wanted to hear.  My dear, precious 95 year old Grammie is sick, and hospice was coming so that she could live out her days in her own home. My mom was with her in Oklahoma when she got sick and went into the hospital. She cared for her along with her brothers and nieces and bore part of the burden to make decisions about what would happen next. She listened to all the doctors and nurses and finally called to tell me that they were going to try to get her home with hospice care so she could be more comfortable. My Grammie has lived alone, independently, in her home for the past 26 years since my Papa died. She just gave up driving a few years ago. She is witty and one of the funniest people you could ever know. She is kind and incredibly generous. She is sincere. She tells it like it is and is not afraid of your reaction; she tells the truth. She has the funniest stories and, even though you've heard them 16 times before, you can't help but crack up every time. And she is BEAUTIFUL. Like, beauty queen beautiful. She was, in fact, a beauty queen- for real (I've seen the pictures)!

Tuesday was one of the most stressful days that I can remember. I was on the phone with my mom throughout the entire day getting updates. There were times when she said she thought Grammie was going to die within a few hours, then a few days, then back to a few hours, then she possibly had a week. I had to make a decision regarding whether I would go or not. Complicating things was the fact that my mom was going to watch my kids last weekend so Mike and I could go to a wedding in Virginia- one that I was also doing the floral arrangements for. My dad got on the first flight that he could that evening and I had made the decision NOT to go- Grammie was looking like she wouldn't make it long enough for me to get out there and I didn't want to go if I wasn't going to see her alive. Within a few more hours it looked like she would hang in, and so we were going (ALL of my siblings).

After an eternity on the phone figuring out the flights (complicating an already complicated process was that I had to get a different flight than everyone else to take me into Norfolk for the wedding on the way home), we all got tickets to fly out at 6:00 am the next morning (Wed)- this, of course, meant we had to leave our house at 3:00am. By the way, American Airlines has a "compassion fare" if your flight is roundtrip to the same destination (my dad, Ran, Sara, and Jill got this rate- still outrageous, but better than most last minute tickets). Apparently they do not have compassion when you have to be at a wedding in another state instead of going home (my ticket was almost as much as we make in a week). My parent's graciously offered to help with the cost of the ticket because they wanted us to have this opportunity- it was really worth any price to all of us.

Anyhow, after figuring out what in the world to do with the kids, talking to Mike about all that needed to happen over the next couple of days (including dealing with the delivery of flowers for the wedding), packing for Oklahoma AND the rehearsal dinner and wedding, I finally got to bed around 12:00am. Jill, Sara, and I left for the airport at 3:00 am. The daddies had to take off work and they were on their own! Ran flew in late that night after missing a flight and losing his computer (which was miraculously held for him at the airport- Praise the Lord!!), so Heather was on her own, too! A special thanks to my sister-in-laws and mother-in-law for their help with the kids. I am not sure I could have gone if it weren't for them, and Mike certainly would not have been able to come to the wedding. You all are amazing!!!

The short time I was in Oklahoma was surreal and totally unforgettable. The 2 days I was there were torturous in some ways- she was so clearly suffering. She looked terrible and was confused most of the time I was there. Her hospice nurse told us that her death was "imminent". Sitting in Grammie's living room having all those conversations with the hospice workers about what to expect, what to do/not do- my word, I didn't think I could take anymore! But, God granted me a very special gift. The night before I had to go (another early flight Friday morning), I spent some time alone in Grammie's room. I told her I just wanted to talk to her and she didn't need to talk back. But, she did. She answered me and asked questions, and just shared with me. She told me that she "never in a million years dreamed I would live this long after my Paul died". She said, "I have had such a great life!" She asked about the kids and I got a chance to tell her what they were up to and how much they would love her if they got to be there. I told her that I was happy that she would see Papa soon, and that I didn't think I would ever see her again on earth. She told me "not to be so sure about that" and said that "there should be a moratorium on being this sick at Christmas". She was confused about the time of day and what day it was and how far Christmas was- I reminded her over and over but she just couldn't seem to retain it. We told each other how much we loved each other. We talked for at least 10 minutes, but that is all I can really remember about our conversation. Even still, I will never forget those moments. She was very alert and was truly "there" with me.

After I left, she started to really come around. My 95 year old Grammie who got pnuemonia on top of pulmonary fibrosis is not dying. We don't necessarily think she has all that much time left, but she is not dying yet! My mom and dad are staying in Oklahoma for Christmas and I know it will be so special for everyone who gets to be there with her. Christmas here at home will be different without them here- we will do our celebration with them sometime after they get home. But, I am so glad that Grammie's last Christmas will be with ALL her kids and most of her grandkids and great-grandkids.

Here is a picture of my dear little Grammie with me on our wedding day (will be 8 years ago in May):

She's one of the best people I know in this world.

I'll get back to the Advent Calendar posts asap :)

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We're the Wells family. We currently consist of Michael (husband and daddy), Lauren (wife and mama), Evangeline (daughter and princess), and Samuel (son and prince). We live a pretty simple life loving the many blessings that God grants us each and every day.
Mike is a genius carpenter/contractor and works throughout neighboring counties. Lauren stays at home with Eva and Sam most of the time, but works a few days a week as a therapist.
More than anything else, we love being together as a family- trips to the gardens, swimming at Grammie and Papa's house, and bike rides & walks are probably our most frequent activities. We're surrounded by our family (siblings and parents); they all live within 30 minutes of us!
That's us in a nut shell.
We're thankful you dropped by our site!