Just Nine Days
By Jenny Brandt
During the last week and a half, I wanted to write on my Facebook wall, “my Granny’s dying!” not to get attention – but to express the emotional swing my heart is on – heartache - peace – sadness – tears – thankfulness.
In just 9 days of learning she was terminally ill, she left us!
Monday June 15th, having learned she had just got the news of cancer the night before in Emergency – I stopped on my way home from the dentist to see her before teaching. She was sitting at her kitchen table – Auntie Kathy across from her extending a comforting hand as she ate a small bowl of potato soup. It was the first hug I could give her since March as we’d all been trying to protect her during the COVID pandemic. She was weepy and tired. They invited me for tea – I stayed for half an hour. Granny suggested we move to the living room and she’d lay on the couch for a bit while we visited. “Sorry for chickening out,” she said. “You’re not chickening out, you’ve just had a physically exhausting night, and you’ve had emotional news!” I tell her. We visit a few more minutes but I must go teach. I wish to take a photo, but don’t…
Do we have days? weeks? or months? I plan to visit again on Wednesday or Thursday…
Thursday June 18th, Granny is rapidly declining – my Mom says if we want to see her we should go visit her – she can no longer eat and can only drink clear fluids. Daniel and I go see her after work, and I made a fruit smoothie just in case she could enjoy a mouthful (as she had enjoyed my sister’s one the day before) … She is exhausted and confined to bed. She shows us how her abdomen has swollen – her eyes still sparkle between fatigue and she talked about how wonderful it was to see various family members who’d come so far! She was at peace. She was thankful for all God has done in sending Jesus to die for her so that God will look not on her goodness, but Jesus’! She expressed the wonder that God knows “her” name – and the wonderful thing that God is our refuge in times of trouble. She shares stories of how she got her Schofield Bible as a child, and how when Granddad was losing his ability to walk stably due to Parkinson’s – he would take his scooter around the neighbourhood and make friends with neighbours who were out and about or talk with other scooter riders! She spoke of the joy of getting to see Granddad again, and Jimmy her first born. We said, she’ll also get to meet our 1st baby too – this brings a smile to her face. We took a photo. She wasn’t well enough to try my smoothie – but I left a mouthful behind in a cup “just in case”
Friday June 19th, with Auntie Joy & Uncle Bruce arriving the night before & others coming that night, I didn’t want to visit long when they hadn’t had much time yet. But I had the afternoon free – I planned to buy flowers – only to discover that I’d forgotten my $ at home. So I stopped in to see extended family instead and give her a quick hug. I was thankful to see that others had brought many beautiful flowers for her to enjoy.
Saturday – she spent an exhausting 11 hours at emergency with my mom waiting to have some of the fluid drained from her abdomen which was pressing on her stomach and lungs and was finally able to get some relief. She drank half a ginger ale and said, “It tastes sooooo good!”
Sunday – June 20th – Daniel & I spent the afternoon with family singing hymns in the room adjacent to Granny. It was such a special sweet time. She lay listening and would occasionally comment between songs – “I love that song” or “I feel like I’m being ushered into heaven!”
Later in the afternoon I got to visit for a third time – I cuddled up next to her on the bed and lay my head on her shoulder. She said, “Oh, you used to do that when you were little!” I said, “I did? I don’t remember…” Her eyes aren’t as bright that day, and she often kept them closed. Words came in sentences that took more effort to form.
She said something like: “Jenny, I don’t know what to say specifically but God is sooo good – and I’ve come to see how much Jesus loves us more and more – how can we not love him back?!” Daniel joined us and we have another short visit. She was concerned that I be sure to take the furniture items she’d said I could have a while ago. I told her not to worry.
Monday – June 21st – She seemed much the same as yesterday. But it was a quieter day as most of the cousins had to leave early that morning. I brought my violin today – and suggested I could play a couple songs for her. She said she’d like that. I played “His Eye is on the Sparrow” followed by her suggestion of “It is Well with my Soul” – she then requested “At the Cross/Alas & did my Savior Bleed” which I couldn’t quite recall so she proceeded to attempt to sing it for me. I played it, and then she said, “Oh, play Thank You Lord, for Saving my Soul!” I asked her if she needed anything and she said, she’d like some of the pudding that her neighbor Kathy had made for her (an old recipe that is sugar, milk & eggs). I fed her a spoonful and a half – that was enough.
I didn’t go Tuesday because I had things I needed to catch up on at home.
Wednesday – June 23rd. My dear Granny – was in asleep when I arrived, as she was exhausted from not sleeping well due to uncomfortable burping. I brought my violin again – and my aunts said to play – she could still hear. So I played, I played many hymns – sorrowful ones and thankful ones. She couldn’t respond – but her face was peaceful. I spent time beside her again. Her skin was cold & damp, her breathing loud – but her face restful. Before leaving I played a couple mores pieces – it felt like I’d played all I could. We didn’t know if she’d still be there for a few more days or if this might be her last hours. I kissed her forehead before leaving – and said, “I love you Gran”
5am – Thursday morning – I woke to use the washroom and checked my phone. Mom had written – Granny went peacefully at 11:53pm Wednesday night.
I’m so thankful for my Granny! Thankful for the family she cared for and modeled her love of God to. That she was able to get to know my Daniel over the past year or two was wonderful. I’m thankful that the COVID rules were such that she never had to be alone in hospital and that we could be with her to comfort and visit her, and I’m thankful she didn’t have to suffer long. It was also a blessing that my aunts, uncles and mom could take care of her needs during the last week and a half and that many of her grandchildren could come see her before she left. Such a hard and special time!