18 December 2013

Saying Goodbye to Grandmom

Thanksgiving was very special this year.  My uncle (my mom's brother) and his wife had spent the last year planning a family reunion of sorts for my grandmother, something she had wanted for a long time.  
We all knew that my grandmother would not be here too much longer, so our family and each of my siblings (as well as other extended family members) made the effort to be there. 

I did not know at the time just how little time we had left with her.  

This is one of my most precious treasures...a 4 generations picture with my grandmother, mother and daughter.  

Out of respect for my grandmother, I never really wrote on the blog about her issues with Cystic Fibrosis.  But 4 years ago, ironically around the time when Bennett was born, she was diagnosed with pseudomonas, one of the most damaging lung infections to which Bennett's Cystic Fibrosis lungs are very susceptible.  

Long story short, Grandmom was eventually treated by a Cystic Fibrosis doctor who strongly believed that while she had only one CF gene (you need two to technically have CF), she met the criteria for CF in every clinical way.  We were told to keep Bennett away from my grandmother and to never let him go to her house.  

This is why the picture above is also such a gift.  Avonlea does not have CF so, at Thanksgiving this year, my grandmother was able to freely hold and play with Avonlea...something she had waited a long time to do since she was never really able to hold Bennett.

Shortly after this picture was taken, my grandmother's end stage lung disease was just too much to handle.  She was admitted to the hospital last week and, within days, slowly lost her ability to breath.

I flew out early yesterday morning to say goodbye to my grandmother, who had slipped into a coma. Within just hours of my arrival, I was able to be there with my mother, father and my mother's brother to watch my grandmother take her last breath and enter heaven.  It was a difficult but beautiful moment.

We were all so very close to Grandmom.  She had a great sense of humor and never took herself too seriously.  She was well known for her huge heart and sincere love for others, particularly those who were disadvantaged in anyway.  Grandmom loved cooking (there was always a 50/50 chance she would burn the cornbread).  I always loved the way she would tell me over the phone, "I miss ya'll.  I wish I could hug your neck" (the Mississippi way of saying, "I wish I could give you a hug"). :)

Grandmom is survived by her children Cindy (my mom) and my uncle Rob as well as her five (of 7) siblings, her five grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and countless nieces and nephews who love her very very much!

We have known for four years that Bennett could not be near my grandmother, for fear he would pick up a lung infection.  This was told to us by Bennett's first Cystic Fibrosis doctor who cared for him when he was an infant.

But, since then, we changed CF clinic doctors and so, knowing we were traveling to see my grandmother for Thanksgiving, I asked our current CF doctor about the dilemma at hand: do I allow my son to see his great grandmother, especially as we knew this could be one of the last times?

Our current CF doctor's response: "I think the quality of life is more important than the quantity.  Bennett deserves to get a hug from his great grandmother."

And so Brian and I made the decision to trust God and to allow Bennett to see his great grandmother and to allow his great grandmother to gently love on him.  These pictures are proof they did that.

We don't know if Bennett acquired any new lung infections because of his interaction with Grandmom. We may not know that for several months, if we ever know at all.  And, yes, we would certainly be sad if he does (although, it would have been simply a matter of time as lung infections with Cystic Fibrosis typically happen on its own).  But we realize that there are some things in life more important than worrying about a disease we cannot control.

If anything Cystic Fibrosis has taught us, it's that we should take nothing for granted.  We don't know the future but we know we have this very moment.

My grandmother passed away less than two weeks after these pictures were taken.  She was 87 years old.

Breathe easy, Grandmom.  You will be sorely missed.


  1. I am so sorry for your loss, Breck. I lost my grandmother a few weeks ago to cancer, even when you "know" it's coming it is never any easier. Thinking of you! - Jen Groettum

  2. I am so sorry for your loss. These pictures and the memories you have with her are precious. I'm so grateful you had so much time with her in your life.

  3. Oh Breck this is just beautiful. You are such a gifted writer. Bobbie had always been a favorite of mine and she will ve sorely missed. Love to you and your family. Marilyn

  4. Oh Breck this is just beautiful. You are such a gifted writer. Bobbie had always been a favorite of mine and she will ve sorely missed. Love to you and your family. Marilyn

  5. So so sorry for your loss friend...but what beautiful words and pictures. I'm so thankful you got that special time with her (and that she got that special time with her grandchildren) Those pictures are priceless and I can see where you get your good looks from! Praying for you and you grieve her loss.

  6. She went in peace it seems. Her heart must have been filled with so much love and contentment. What a wonderful decision you made together. Many prayers for you and your family this holiday season.


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