Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What Is This Thing That Men Call Death?

One year ago this April, we celebrated the 90th birthday of my last living grandparent: Geneal Call Cooper. Although her birthday was in January, she had a hip replacement in that month, my folks were in Hawaii, so we pushed her party until spring-time. The family encouraged her to get the hip replacement because she was still so healthy and young. Just look at her, and you will see: This mama does not look 90!

As part of her celebration, my cousin and I filmed her kids and grandkids sharing memories of Grandma & Grandpa Cooper. We also interviewed Grandma about her life, and it was such a blessing to understand Grandma on a new level:
-as a young girl that lost her mother at age six
-as a dutiful farmgirl who left home and went to business school so she could have a different life
-as the slightly disappointed wife who ended up back on the farm (at my Grandpa's behest)
-as the bread-maker
-gift-giver (she sent ever grandchild and great-grandchild a birthday card with as many dollars as their years in age...up to 20)
-and mother hen to her five kids, her grandkids, and great-grandkids.

Over and over again family & friends attested: I never heard her say a bad word about anyone!

It was just this past February I mailed her some Valentine's Cards from my kids. She wrote back a thank-you that has been on my fridge. It is dated February 25th of this year. In the letter she is expressing concern over a family member recently diagnosed with cancer. Who would have thought on March 22nd, she would be diagnosed with a rare form of leukimia with the opinion that she had 3-4 months to live. Later in the week she was given 1-2 months to live. In reality, she passed away just 12 days after receiving the diagnosis.

My heart aches that I didn't get to see my Grandma one last time! With a woman of such grace and virtue, I wanted to ask her one thing: Will you be my guardian angel when you get to the other side?

And yet! I can't help rejoice in the fact that she gets to see her mother again, gets to reunite with my Grandpa, and has left a legacy of love for this one granddaughter to try to live up to the rest of her life.

What is this thing that men call death,
this quiet passing in the night?
Tis not the end but genesis,
Of better worlds and greater light.
-words by Gordon B. Hinckley
full poem with accompanying music found here.


April said...

I heard about your grandma passing away from Bev. I am so sorry you didn't have more time to prepare to say goodbye. No matter the age, it is hard to lose someone special. Thank goodness we have the knowledge of the gospel- it gives us so much hope.

What a pretty lady your grandma was- she looks like your mom.

Wade and Marilyn said...

That was beautiful and made me cry. Thanks so much!

LGH said...

What a beautiful tribute to your grandmother. I was pretty amazed that her death occurred so near to her finding about about her illness. Very intersting. But, you have paid her many compliments, and I'm sure she will be a wonderful guardian angel.

Stephanie said...

I am sorry for your loss, I can see she was a wonderful woman. My Grandma Parker passed away while I was living in Vancouver. It was very hard for me. She also got cancer and had a short diagnosis of life. I hope my kids have that kind of relationship with their grandparents.

jennaloha said...

Testament to Grandma's life is the passion of her granddaughter's words about her! It's so sad to lose all the history and talents and goodness that a soul is all packaged up in here on earth. But as you say, the thoughts of the blessing of reunion in heaven is very sweet. I lost my grandfather in 2008 at the age of 96. He lost his father in 1924 when he was just 12- 84 years before! I can't imagine (without crying :) how amazing that reunion was for them.

Holly said...

She sounds like a wonderful fabulous person! I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm sure she will be your guardian angel! Love you!

paula said...

I've been wondering how she was doing....I'm sorry to hear about her passing so soon. I've lost a few dear loved ones, young and old, over the last ten years and I know this is a weird way to look at it but I try and remember this: death is a blessing God has given us. It ends suffering and it allows beautiful reunions and eternal life...What a precious gift that you have the interview and story of hers straight from her own lips.

Jen Adair said...

I am sorry to hear about your grandma, what a neat tribute post to her! She seemed like an amazing lady!

Monica said...

Thanks for being able to express how you feel about Grandma. It's how we all feel, I think, but I'm always amazed that you can find such beautiful ways of expressing how you feel. It helps me in my own grieving for her. I love you!

Mrs. Olsen said...

Thanks for all the well-wishes everyone. What an emotional and celebratory weekend we have had burying her. She was true beauty!

earwaxtasteslikecrayons said...

Sorry for your loss--I remember her as being especially grandmotherly. Hope your family finds healing as they grieve and celebrate her together.

Allen Family said...

I still vividly remember Niki and I singing "Sisters" at your grandparentages 50th anniversary. Within one meeting, you instantly felt comfortable with her and knew she had such a good heart. This post makes me miss my grandpa who recently passed, too, and who was also a loving, fun, accepting person. Sad. (I've been meaning to post about his passing and funeral but life got a little crazy.)