Wednesday, January 20, 2010
"Mimme passed away this morning," she said.
Mimme was my mom's mother, and her health had been declining over the past year. She had come to live closer to my parents about 14 months ago and had been living in a lovely nursing home in Rockwall when she passed away.
She wanted to be buried in her hometown in Arkansas, where she had lived out the vast majority of her 89 years. So on Wednesday I headed out in a car with my sister, brother, niece, and nephew to the small town of Carlisle, Arkansas, not far from Little Rock. The funeral service was on Thursday morning.
During the trip, I got to hear some good stories about Mimme in her younger days. My mom's old friend, Debbye, said she had always compared Mimme to June Cleaver. Mimme always kept her house in tip-top shape. It seems like she balanced my grandfather well. I have heard crazy stories about my grandfather (who died when I was just 5 months old). He would regularly bring home all sorts of animals for his two girls--everything from bunnies, turtles, and chickens to foxes, skunks, and alligators! He ran a service station and had long hours on his feet. Mimme was always there to take care of him at the end of the day and keep her household running smoothly.
Of course, those aren't my memories of her. I was the youngest grandchild, so I came along much later in her life. I remember that she had a beautiful garden full of Tiffany roses (she named some of them Angela and Suzanne so that my sister and cousin wouldn't feel left out). She lived in a big (or at least it seemed huge to me then!) white house with some fun things that were there just for us kids--like a little organ where I first learned to make "music."
I actually lived with her for five weeks when I was six years old. My parents had learned a loophole in our education system; my birthday is on September 7, but the cut-off to get into school is September 1 for Texas schools. My parents felt I was ready for school and didn't want me to stay at home for another year. So, I was packed up and sent off to live with Mimme in Arkansas for the first few weeks of first grade, since Arkansas' cut-off is October 1. Once I was officially established as a student there, I was able to transfer to the Texas school system. Voila! Genius.
Mimme took good care of me during those weeks. I remember her keeping her freezer well-stocked with ice cream sandwiches, my favorite treat. She took me with her each week to her beauty salon, where I sat and drank a Coke from a glass bottle while she sat next to her friends, each with a hair-drying dome over her head. We would go to the general store, where she would let me spend all my change on nickel candy. She even took me to get my ears pierced for my 6th birthday, which I celebrated there. (I remember when we called to tell my dad--he was not too pleased!)
That was all a long time ago, of course. Unfortunately, my Mimme didn't really have much of a life there at the end--she would sit in her room most of the day, without a desire to read, do puzzles, or even watch TV. She would only venture outside her door for meals, and she had no inclination to talk to other residents or take part in the many social activities offered. She was mentally sharp until close to the end, but she just didn't have the drive to do very much. It is sad that this is the Mimme I remember more than the one who took care of me all those years ago.
Even though her death was somewhat expected, it was still hard. For me, it doesn't really bother me much that she is gone--she didn't seem very happy here at the end anyway. But I just hope above all hope that she was a believer. Those who knew her in her earlier days seem to think she was, so that's good. But I wish that I didn't have to have that doubt. There is nothing sadder than going to a funeral for someone and not knowing whether they ended up on the right side of eternity.
I do hope Mimme was a Christian. I hope she knew that Jesus is the only way to heaven. I hope she understood that we are all sinners, and Jesus humbled himself and came to earth as a man so that he could live a perfect life and then die for our sins, the final sacrifice. Because the only way to get to heaven is to believe that.
And I hope that if you, dear reader, aren't in a place where you know for certain where you are going when you die, that you will settle that right now! You can find more information here. It is the most important decision you'll make in your life.
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6