Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday's Tears - A Beautiful Goodbye

In January 2010 my family lost it's Matriarch - Audrey June Katvala.  This was the first of many crazy events in my life in 2010, but strangely (and hopefully not too morbidly) despite the huge loss the events surrounding her death were unbelievably, well, beautiful. 

You see, in the course of her 79 1/2 years, my grandmother managed to survive everything thrown at her, with grace as far as I could tell.  She survived two husbands, birthed 8 children, "adopted" 3 more as her own, preceeded 32 grandchildren and 20-something great-grandchildren.  Life wasn't easy for her, but I never saw her complain.  Growing up I thought my family was a perfect demonstration of love and although as I grew older I learned that wasn't nearly as true as I'd grown up to believe, the truth is that my grandma Audrey taught me a lot. 

In her latter years she had several severe health issues, but did her best not to let others see how bad it was.  I know by the time she passed she was in so much pain and living in sickness constantly...as a Christian woman I believe death brought her relief and serenity as she was called home to be with our Lord. As wonderful as it is to think about her lack of suffering now and her impact on my life (and those of many), her passing was enviable.  (Of course, I mean, as enviable as it could be...in other words, with the exception of her pain and certain details if I were able to choose how to go, this would be it). 

When it became apparent that my grandmother would not make it much longer and she went into the hospital, immediately her family surrounded her, at least those who could physically get there.  I was one of the handful of surviving children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and friends who was not able to get back to see her before she died, but even so far away I was able to participate in letting her go.  In her final hours, nearly everyone was able to gather around her in the hospital room, singing worship songs, saying their final goodbyes, and celebrating her life.  I'm told that when not in her room, most of the grandchildren remained in the waiting room (overnight even) telling stories of their childhood and reconnecting.  those of us who were far away were able to talk to my grandmother on the phone, knowing for certain that it would be the last time we'd talk to her in this life, which meant we were able to tell her what she meant and as properly as possible, to say goodbye.  Everyone had the chance, as they wished, to say whatever they felt they wished to say to her before she died and though in the end she wasn't necesarily able to speak back, it was clear that she heard and she acknowledged each person.  Only a couple days after she entered the hospital, she passed quietly in the middle of the night.

Seeing as how we'll all have to go at some point, if I could go as an elderly woman with everyone I love around me, having the opportunity to say goodbye to them all and them to me....I think that would be pretty cool. 

It was a year ago this past week.  We miss you Grandma Audrey.

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