We are entering a new season in our home. For the past three years, my mother has lived with us. This was a beautiful time for us. She was a retired teacher and school administrator. She loved watching us homeschool our children. She even took part, teaching phonics to our emerging readers. She enjoyed sitting in on our read-alouds. She listened as we read The Mystery of History. She watched movies with us and was usually a part of our family activities. She felt strongly about helping around the house, and took on the cleaning of the kitchen and the folding of the laundry as her chores. Most wonderful of all, she was an in-house grandmother – the one who always had time for the children – to snuggle, read them books and listen to their stories (and boy, do we have some talkers!)
Nana (prounounced Nonnna) moved in with us after a heart catheterization showed arteries that were 100% blocked, one that was 80% and one that was 90%. Her doctor informed her that she should no longer be living alone, so she sold her condo in South Carolina and moved into our Pittsburgh house. Shortly thereafter, we dragged her with us when we moved to Michigan. She came along graciously. We weren’t sure how long she would be with us. After a year and a half of regular ER visits for angina attacks, her doctor put her on hospice. Hospice was wonderful! They checked on her each week, provided medicine, oxygen, a lift chair – if Mom needed, they made they call and the item arrived.
But having an in-house Nana wasn’t always easy, either. She was a stubborn woman (don’t ask me how many times she ran away – on foot, cane in hand, not telling us where she was going.) She argued and attempted to infuse her judgments and political ideas into our family. And just because I’m now a grown-up doesn’t mean the baggage that was created during my growing-up years disappeared. We all learned how to “honor your mother” even when it’s hard; how to choose our battles and when to stand our ground. As her health continued to decline, it meant a lot of changes for our family. We were no longer mobile – we couldn’t leave her alone, and we couldn’t take her with us. She wanted to be left in charge of the children, but was no longer physically or mentally able to handle that responsibility, but she didn’t understand that. Outings had to be carefully planned, childcare had to be thought of and appropriate reasons had to be given. Furthermore, she was unhappy. She was ready to go to heaven. She was tired of losing her independence piece by piece. The children knew it; everyone knew it. Still, I wouldn’t change the time she had with us for anything.
On December 19th, at the age of 85, she went home to be with the Lord. It was a difficult week, but we celebrated Christmas with the knowledge that she was celebrating in the very real presence of our Savior – her Christmas wish fulfilled.
Now as we enter a new calendar year, we feel a sadness, a sense of loss. We watch as our family readjusts, adapting to the change, mourning, but confident that it was her time and His plan. But we also recognize that this is a new season – we feel a freshness, a sense of freedom, as we now have time and energy for commitments that we could not make before, a release from the constraints, both emotional and physical, that came with that time of having her in our home, in our family. And so we look ahead, wondering what the Lord has planned for us in this season, waiting patiently to see what He has in store.