Sunday, July 26, 2009

Yes, I know what day it is...PYKM is just one post down.
You're getting a 2-for-1 Monday...


I've been reluctant to write this post because I know you all like the funny ones but I can't sleep tonight (and I can always sleep) so I decided to get up and write about why I can't sleep.

Gigi is my Grandma Emily, my Mom's mom, and she lives in Montana where I grew up. Once we had Samuel we started calling her Gigi and now its stuck and she loves it, so Gigi it is. Gigi is who Baby Emily is named for.

My Mom had me when she was very young and my Dad split so that left Grama to help raise me, which she did gladly. She took me to a VBS at a Baptist church across the street where she lived and I liked it so much I made her take me on Sunday too. Pretty soon we had my Mom going too and before you knew it the two of them came to know Christ as their Savior and I followed suit when I was 11 (there is a whole lot to this story that I'm leaving out).

Grama has worked her whole life...and I mean worked hard. Even after she retired she worked at the local senior center helping to prepare meals to earn a little extra money. The hard work has left her body nearly crippled with arthritis.

You would never hear her complain though so in May when she began telling my Mom about the pain she was in and stopped going to coffee with her girlfriends we all knew something was up. To make a long story short she was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, which means her spine is narrowing and putting horrific pain on her joints, all a part of the arthritis that riddles her body. Oh and did I mention she also has liver failure and congenital heart failure? Yeah, she's a walking time bomb but nothing, until now, has ever kept her down. Not even her failing heart. And, before I forget, I know you're wondering, she'll be 84 on Friday.

So in May my Mom had to make the difficult decision, along with Grama, to put her in a nursing home. She's gotten where she can barely walk, needs more care than my Mom (who has to work full time) can give her and needs a lot of physical therapy. Her doctors initially said it would only be for 3-4 weeks, like a rehab stint, but since she's "gone in" her health has declined and she doesn't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon.

Her pain is worsening and is now having to be controlled with heavy narcotics that make her really sick to her stomach. To fight the nausea they treat her with an anti-nausea that makes her sleep all the time. They are considerably limited to what meds they can treat her with because of her heart condition. Its this Catch-22 that sucks more than I ever thought anything could suck. She has gone from being a really vibrant, spunky, feisty old lady to merely existing and sometimes the thought of her in that room makes me so sad, so sick, so pissed that I can barely breathe. And in tonight's case: I can't sleep.

Since I moved to Oregon in '98 I have called her almost every day. We rarely go more than 2 days without speaking. She's got a cell phone and I can call that and still speak to her and I am really, really grateful for that. She has a roommate that she likes and she seems to like the staff and nurses--more things that I'm thankful for. She is, however, so unhappy and so desperately wants to go home. I can't imagine being faced with the prospect of going into a place and never coming out. I find myself wondering, almost daily now, if she will leave only to go Home and be with Jesus.

Because of her heart condition I always thought she would die suddenly. I would have never imagined this slow, dwindling death. Its in these teary nights that I think about God's mercy and His will and I wonder how it all works and I question if I know how to pray or not.

I also think about playing endless hours of cards. I think about riding around in an orange truck she called "Shasta" ("She hasta have gas. She hasta have oil."). I think about learning to make french toast, and No Bake cookes. I think about the look on her face when she met my children for the first time. I think about her seeing my Uncle Bob, her first born son who died in 2007, in heaven and how she will run to him, pain free, and hold him and tell him how much we've all missed him. Mostly I think about kissing her and telling her I'm sorry for all the times I was a punk and that even if the whole world forgets her I will always remember her and she has made a difference.

* a comment regarding the congetal heart disease. I meant congestive. I was tired and can't keep it all straight.


bestie kim said...

oh friend, i am hugging you right now!!!! and i am praying for your sweet gigi!! i love you

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story! Gigi is blessed in more ways than anyone could imagine. She has survived this long with a congential heart defect. Wow! That's almost unheard of. I'm sure God knew you needed her more than He needed her in Heaven for the time being. May you be comforted and soothed by His loving kindness.

Jennifer said...

Gigi doesn't have a heart defect but congenital heart failure/disease. Just really clogged arteries. What's funny is we've teased her for years and years that she doesn't even have a heart. :)

Thanks for the kind words Bestie and Anonymous! I am blessed.

Anonymous said...

oh sweetie, what a wonderful tribute to a wonderful lady, you should show her this post! love you and hope you are enjoying your time together!- Cary

Jennifer said...

I vaguely remember meeting Gigi when I was in Montana in 1990!! I think she was the snack lady during the VBS that we did!! I remember her being spunky then! :)

What an awesome husband Hot Jeff must be to take you on that trip! I love him for taking such good care of you, and I've never met him!! Thank God for the good men in this world!!

I love you!!

Anonymous said...

Oh Jen! It's been a while since I have read your blog! Summer is so busy...but after sitting down and reading this tribute to your dear Gigi I sat here and cried. Your hard-working, no-bake cookie making, feisty, wise and loving grandmother...seemed so similar to my own grandmother! I miss her so much! I am so glad you had a wonderful visit and that Gigi is doing better! I will keep praying for you and for Gigi!