The days have sorta’ blended into one another in the past five days. Yesterday, the home health care organization came and removed Gertrude’s hospital bed that had remained here while she was at the nursing home. All of her belongings from the nursing home were sitting around in boxes, and I knew that things really needed to be gone through.
I gathered my wits about me and decided that if I didn’t get started, it wouldn’t get done, so Eldest Daughter and I hauled a table in and set it up where the bed had been, and got busy going through the pajamas, long johns, undershirts, blouses and sweatshirts and what she always called “dungarees” (whether they were beautiful dress slacks or sweats or jeans). There were lots of sweaters (Gertrude was always cold) and there were lots of hair things like bows and ribbons and barrettes and clips (she was so proud of her hair that we had allowed to grow out the past couple of years). Gertrude loved Christmas, and there were lots of christmasy ribbons and bells (She always wanted red bows and big jingle bells on her shoes from Thanksgiving to Christmas) and even Christmasy sweatshirts. I held one in my hands and remembered how pleased she was when we bought it for her. It had an angel picture on the front with a caption “…an angel among us!” It was done in blues and yellows and pinks, and she thought she was really pretty when she wore it.
Sometime after Eldest Daughter left to have lunch with her husband, the tears started, and I cried more today than I have any day since she left us. I don’t wish her back, I don’t want her back. We had prayed for three months that God would either let her come home to us, or that He would take her home to Heaven. The last few weeks were so full of suffering that I really do feel this incredible joy when I think about how it is for her. Just think! In one split second she went from pain and confusion and inconvenience and dependency to light and life and the very presence of Jesus. I am sad. We’ve already missed her so very much in these past three months. But the joy far outweighs the sorrow. I am so happy for her, and I am sure that God has a plan for us. It is the most inspiring thing to think of her being in Heaven without any stigma or handicap to hold her back. She really had the sweetest spirit, and I believe that she is now shining with an unbelievable Glory.
. . .But there in her room is her dolly and her wheel chair and her clothes that still smell like her. Her warm flannel jammies and her sweaters and her nighties…We just miss her. There is such a big hole in our hearts. “Bittersweet” is how Youngest Daughter so aptly put it.
You know, I had so hoped that I could be there when she slipped into Glory. But on Friday, around noon, when Deborah was there, Gertrude was fading fast. Deborah told her, “Gertie, Mom won’t be able to be in for a couple of days. She and Dad are going to Ohio to see Lem for Parents weekend. But Gertie, if they come for you, we want you to know that it is okay to go. Heaven is waiting for you, and it will be so wonderful. Just go ahead and go.” That day, Deborah didn’t get any response from her the entire visit except when she said, “I love you, Gertie. Do you love me?” and Gertrude, with her unseeing eyes nodded her head and made the sound that we have come to know as “yes.” Deborah said to me, “You know, Mom, I had such a vivid impression of angels all around the bed, but they were not looking at Gertie, they were looking towards Heaven, awaiting the signal that said, ‘Bring her on home’.” A little over twelve hours later, the call came, and she was in the presence of Jesus. It gives me goose bumps every time I think about it. How could this sadness not carry such an eternal weight of Glory? These are precious, precious days.
Funeral arrangements are for a Celebration of Gertrude’s Life at 11:00 AM on Wednesday, November 1st, at the Chapel on the grounds of Stockley Center. The undertaker will meet us at the grave site (again on grounds) at 12 noon. The State has been very gracious to us in allowing us to plan and have the service. It is healing for me to think about the music and the words and the possibilities for Kingdom impact that this service can contain. Anyone is welcome to attend. If you have questions or need directions, please call me. (302-422-5952)