The day started like any other work day. I settled into my office to make a few things happen. Book some loans, coach some people, and put out whatever fires that might arise.
Mom called and broke the news to me about Granny. Although Granny had been doing better since mom returned from Nashville the day before, she was now doing terribly. She had and infection… somewhere. The problem? They didn’t know what the source of the infection was or where it might be. She was getting worse by the minute.
Granny spent the last 13 years of her life living with what a stroke left her with. The use of the left side of her body, the ability to make sounds but not words, and a mind that was sharp as a tack. It had to be frustrating to hear the perfect words come out of your mouth, but no one else could hear them. All any of us could here was, “nah, nah, nah, nah”. Sometimes it came out sympathetically, sometimes angrily, sometimes with a chuckle, but it was always, “nah, nah, nah, nah”.
We knew what she was saying most of the time. Once in a while she would get fired up about something and we just wouldn’t get it right. My mom went through that a lot as she would go to see Granny two or three nights a week while mom lived in South Georgia
The call fell on me like a heavy silence. Somehow I knew that this was it. Granny was very very sick and she might not make it out of this one.
A few calls later and my team at work had pulled together to cover me while I was out. The drive home was humbling. “God, please have mercy on my Granny”, I remember saying.
Mom and I met up at her house and shortly after putting her hastily packed bags in the trunk, we hit the road.
Driving with mom wasn’t always an ordeal. When I was a little fellow of about six, Mom, Granny, and I set off on Road Trip to New Mexico. Alamogordo, New Mexico to be exact. We went to see my Aunt Barbara, Uncle Matt, Cousin Rodney, and my baby Cousin Mark.
No booster seats. Just two days of driving for my Mom and Granny with me sitting on the middle console backwards leaning into the front seat so I could be closer to my Granny. I had to drive her crazy. Little six year-old leaning on her and pinching her arm fat. “You’ll bruise the ____ out of me, Son” she’d blast out at me. What a pest I was.
No. Today the trip with Mom was a lot different. Mom has become terrified of traveling at high speeds in the company of tractor trailers. Add a little afternoon thunderstorm, some road debree, and the uncertainty of her mother’s fate and Mom was a nervous wreck.
Playing it safe not only made for a less stressful trip, it was also the right thing to do. I slowed down and took it easy. Mom still freaked out, but it wasn’t nearly as bad.
We found ourselves riding through Nashville–The town that time forgot. Except for the “Dinner Bell” restaurant being moved, the place was exactly the same as I remember. Nashville is a quaint little place that I remember as a place where you could sleep with your doors unlocked at night. Whether that is still true or not I cannot vouch for, but it sure looks the same.
When we arrived at the hospital Lisa, my cousin, and these two guys I didn’t recognize were walking out. The young men spoke to me with such familiarity that I felt embarrassed not to recognize them. They were Seth and Adam, my cousin Connie’s kids, all grown up. Almost immediately, Adam asked me why we haven’t been to visit in a while. I love his honesty. Trying to explain the trials of chasing 2 young children around might relate well to his mom, but he wasn’t having it. I knew there would be more to this conversation later.
Lisa explained that Granny had just been through a rough ordeal and Connie was in the room with her to calm her down. Lisa looked great. She had a confidence about her– a happiness that I hadn’t seen before.
Mom and I went in to see Granny. As we anxiously walked down the the hallway of this tiny hospital the nurse stopped me and told me, “You cannot touch her or hug her without gloves and a gown on. She has serious infection.”
“You better get some gowns and gloves ready.” I told her sternly. She backed off.
We walked in the room after being instructed not to cry. Apparently, Granny had been informed that she was going to die. Not the best bedside manner, but I suppose the doctor felt he owed it to her to let her know.
Granny looked scared. She looked surprised to see us too. She could barely make out her normal, “nah nah nah nah?” Translation: “Look what the cat dragged in”.
My Granny and I have always had a special connection. (I’m sure she does with all of her grandkids, but my connection is unique to me.) I can always make her laugh. Not with funny jokes and not with crazy antics. No, I just talk to her. I don’t even remember what I said. I just got her to chuckle a little. She seemed to relax a little, but not as much as she needed to.
One by one, family began to come in to see her. We all knew the time was getting closer. That little hospital room was filled with people.
Everyone, it seemed had to come from long ways away. We knew that from what the doctors told us, that some people would not make it before she passed away. The doctors said she would be evidence of a miracle if she lived through the night.
Time ticked on with trips in and out of the room to take breaks in shifts, because the room became too crowded.
My cousin Ran (short for Randy) called us all together out front and reminded us that she was in pain and that the doctor said she could have morphine to ease her pain at anytime we felt she needed it. We all decided because of Ran’s brave reminder that she needed to rest.
The nurses administered the morphine and I thought Granny would be out like a light. When I broke my leg they gave me that stuff and I could get past the number five when I was given a dose. Granny, stubborn as she was, stayed awake for another hour or so.
She was surrounded by family both in physical form and prayerfully when she went to sleep and began to rest. Her heart rate was still too high and her blood pressure was some ridiculous number.
At one o’clock in the morning I decided to get some rest. I went to the Camry and folded the seat back and was gone. I kept thinking it would be for an hour and someone would knock on the window and wake me up to tell me that Granny had passed. I prayed.
When I woke up, it was getting daylight. Everyone left around 4:00 A.M. mom said. Her and Aunt Kay were still there and awake. Uncle Stan, Kay’s husband, was fighting sleep too but seemed to be giving in. I knew when I went to sleep that not everyone should stay up all night. Someone would need to be with Granny, if she made it.
Mom said Granny was still resting. I was happy about that. I hadn’t missed her passing away without saying good-bye one more time.
We went in to see her. I couldn’t stay for long. If you’ve ever been around someone that is dying, you know. There is a certain smell. I smelled it before when my uncle Don passed away. I also smelled it when Chase was dying. I knew at that point that she definitely would not pull through this and she was close.
Uncle Stan took me to breakfast and we had a moment or two to catch up. He is hilarious! Just one of those people you are glad you know.
The rest of the day was much like the night before. My poor mom had not slept in about 30 hours by now. I talked her into getting a room at the Nashville Inn just in case. I knew that she would need sleep and being 15-30 minutes away at one of our family member’s house would not do should we get a call saying she was dying right then.
Mom and I took the 1 minute commute to the hotel and checked in to take a shower. The room was 100… million degrees and it was… bad. I offered for Mom to take a shower while I ran to Rite-Aide down the street for a couple of things. I had to get out of that hot room.
I went to Rite-Aide and back to the hospital to let everyone know where we were. The whole trip took 5 minutes. I got back to the MOTEL to take my shower. I was afraid to take my shoes off in this place.
In fact, I didn’t until I stepped out of my flip-flops into the shower. When I got out I reached for the towel. There was NO ventilation in this bathroom and it felt like a steam room at the YMCA. I was expecting some overweight guy with nothing but a towel on in the corner to start talking about the stock market. He wasn’t there so I got my own towel.
I reached for the neatly folded longer towel and pulled it down. It was damp. No doubt because the room had steamed it into dampness. I pull the towel open from end to end like I was showing the rest of the bathroom how wide the Mississippi River is and noticed… a sand spur. Not only a sand spur, but also mascara…. and lipstick. I almost threw up.
I threw the towel down and got dressed wet. I stepped back into my shoes from the shower and went to show my discovery to my mom.
“I know I might sound up-ity but I don’t care. This place is GROSS!” I showed her the towel with the make-up on it. “That’s my towel, but don’t know where the sand spur came from!”
We both belly laughed. She hung her towel as neatly as she found it and I grabbed her wet towel. We needed that. We also needed some food.
The Hospital was the same when we got back. We were so concerned that we would shower at Ran’s, Chris’s, or Aunt Barbara’s and we would miss something because of the time it would take to get back to the Hospital.
The family organized a group to go to the only “sit-down restaurant” in town to my knowledge, Cadillac’s. One half night club and one half restaurant with things like wings, fried mushrooms, and beer. Although not a time to throw down, it one beer definitely appealed to me.
We were there long enough to get a couple orders of mushrooms and other appi’s. Someone got a call that we’d better get back to the hospital if we didn’t want to miss anything.
We took off and were there in what seemed like a minute. It was probably only 30 seconds because everything is so close, but it still seemed like longer.
Everyone rushed into the room to be with Granny in her last moments. Breathing had become spuratic with long pauses in between. She was dying. We all gathered around her bed and said sweet things to her.
My cousin Connie was holding her hand and kissing her head. We all felt it, but no one said anything. We were paralyzed with the moment. Suddenly, my cousin Chris said, “If ya’ll don’t mind, I’m gonna pray.” It was a wash of relief over everyone. We’d all been wanting to do it, but he had the courage. [Chris, Thank You].
Several minutes later, Granny passed. Edith Mae Bostick Bradford Weaver passed away and went home to be with the Lord.
It was very strange, but I could feel her smiling. I cannot explain it and hesitated to mention it here for fear that you’d all think I was crazy, but I sensed she had a feeling of Victory.
I had to get some air. I left her room and walked out of the Hospital. As the door closed behind me I heard the first pops and ratta-tat-tats of fireworks. It was after all July 2nd. People were celebrating Independence Day because it was Saturday and July 4th wasn’t until Monday.
Never the less, I could not help but think that Granny was celebrating Freedom too. She fought total dependence for 13 years in the hospital bed being paralized and she was finally free.
We all collected outside after the nurses and coroner came in to make the determination of time and cause of death.
I suggested to my mom, who was hurting severely and running on 45 hours of no sleep, that we NOT stay at the Nashville Inn, but go to my Aunt Barbara’s house and sleep.
Not a whole lot of arm-twisting later and we were on our way.
The next day I woke to the smell of country sausage cooking. It took me a minute to determine where I was. I got up, grabbed a cup of Aunt Barbara’s coffee and sat on the front porch to listen to the stillness of the country.
After breakfast, I went for a run. I needed to clear my thoughts. The country was so beautiful. The air was thick and hot but the beauty of home is always captivating. I made the turn around the corner from their house and I see these beautiful rows of crops.
Something came over me and I felt like stopping, sitting down, and talking to God for a moment.
I remember shouting but I don’t remember what I said. I wasn’t shouting at God I was shouting for him. I remember that. For some reason I felt I needed to shout as a proclamation.
Next the plan was to return home and get my family to come back with me to pay respects to Granny. I didn’t want them there while Granny was passing away. I didn’t want them to go through all of that. Evan isn’t quite two and Gabby is almost six, but they are both still too young to deal with that.