Friday, January 07, 2011

The Unbroken Circle

January 1, 2011, American Fork Hospital, Utah

Grandma had suffered mutli-organ failure, including damage to her lungs, heart, liver and kidneys. She was on a ventilator, which was forcing air into her lungs, and she was sedated so as not to choke or gag on the tubes. There was existing damage to her lungs from previous bouts of blood clots, and the other organ damage was due to reduced oxygen levels and a suspected virus. After receiving a priesthood blessing from Uncle Bill, the tubes were removed at about 2:45pm. Once the tubes were removed, she was able to breathe independently, and her oxygen level was remarkably high, although her blood pressure was very low, about 40 over 30. I think that would make anyone pass out; Grandma did not wake up at this point.

She seemed to sleep very peacefully, although her legs were jumpy as always, and she sneezed a lot. Gradually, her breathing rate decreased until after a while, there was no longer a blood pressure reading, and she stopped taking breaths. It was evident at this point that her face was no longer pink with life. It was about 4:00pm when the nurses turned off the monitors. I don't think we noticed the actual moment that she died, it was so gradual and peaceful.

During the hours that we sat with Grandma (my Aunt/Uncles and cousins), we looked at pictures of her as a young child and a young woman, we told stories, and sang hymns. We kept inviting her to set the record straight if we messed up any of the facts. I even offered to change my hair back to blond if only she would make her dying wish known, but she did not respond. The last hymn we sang was “Abide with me, Tis Eventide”.

We did a tally of how many there are in her progeny. There are 6 kids, 26 grandkids, and 49 great-grandkids, with 4 on the way. She came to Utah to spend Christmas with my Aunt Sue in Lehi, and was beating everyone at cards, shopping my cousin into the ground, playing with her new iPod until the very end. She was blessed to go quickly, without pain and prolonged suffering. That is a pretty good way to go.

When she was a young mom, she had a major illness during which she had a near death experience, viewing her body from above, conversing with the Savior and her daddy, and at that time asked to stay on earth and raise her children and finish her earthly mission. That she did indeed. I can imagine a similar greeting for her this time, only having completed a good and faithful earthly mission, she is rejoicing in going home to her parents, her husband, her infant daughter, and the hundreds of ancestors she's done temple work for over the years.

January 7, 2011, Plano/Dallas, Texas

Today was Grandma's funeral. It was a beautiful service. The flowers were beautiful. The people were beautiful. The music was beautiful. All of her children spoke and the granddaughters sang "I know that my redeemer lives." Funerals are always bittersweet, because of course we will miss our dear Grandmother, but we are happy that she can go home, she is released from her failing mortal body, she can be with loved ones on the other side, and we have the vital knowledge of eternal families and the resurrection.

Grandma was a friend to everyone. She was a missionary. She was always optimistic. She was a storyteller. She was adventerous. She was a go-getter and a problem solver and a giver and an entrepreneur. She never quit. She was beloved.

She has now taken her much anticipated and well deserved place in the family circle that exists around the glorious heavenly throne. There is a place for all of us in that circle. It was Grandma's wish that "God be with you 'till we meet again," for we will in fact meet again. And we will form an unbroken circle around the throne of glory.

Grandma would sign off "Keep Prayed Up."

Pictured Below
1: Elizabeth and I in our graduation robes in '05. One of the many times Grandma bounced right out of the hospital.
2/3: Benac Reunion in Park City, Utah, July 2006.
4: Grandma, Rebecca and Paul visiting my home in Provo in December '08.

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