How do you sum up someones life in a few short paragraphs? How do you say goodbye to someone you've known for every day of your entire life, knowing that this day would come some day in the future?
My grandmother, Dolores Huber, went on to be with God on December 28th, 2006 at 11am. I got a phone call from my mother around 7 am Christmas eve telling me that my grandmother was taken to Franklin Square hospital in Baltimore, MD with a bad infection and it didn't look good. I had gotten a few calls similar to this over the past couple of years but for some reason I knew that I need to be in Baltimore for this one and I found myself on a plane heading for BWI by 8:30 that night. Now for anyone that knows Grandmom Dee, you know the sense of humor she has. When she found out that I was heading home to see her, she said that I was coming out there because I thought she was going to croak. Those were her words, not mine. Dad and I headed up to the hospital as soon as ICU allowed visitors. The look on her face when I came into her room made it all worth it. Words can't begin to describe how happy she was to see her first grandson after almost 5 years. She had said that she was afraid she'd pass before she saw me again. One of her most valued treasures was her family. She enjoyed having family over for all of the holidays and even just when we popped in unexpectedly just to say hi. One thing I looked forward to every Christmas was going down to see Grandmom Dee and Pop and having dinner with the whole family. She was the glue that held the family together. Her house was where I saw my relatives most of the time when I was younger. She was always one to decorate up for every holiday. For almost every Halloween I can remember, she had made up a witch that sat in her front yard. I can remember several Halloweens going down to her neighborhood to go trick or treating. Those were fun times.
So, the last time I saw my grandmother alive was December 27th. Her kidneys had failed, probably from the last dose of chemotherapy she received the week before. Being too weak to go through dialysis, they sent her from the ICU to the hospice on the forth floor. The doctors and nurses did their best to help keep her comfortable. They say that kidney failure is a fairly painless way to go. The toxins build up in your body similar to how alcohol builds up in your body and has a similar effect. She was unable to form words and was very tired by then. When asked if she was in pain, she was able to respond. One thing I thought she'd never do was stop talking. Grandmom Dee loved to talk. Not even a stroke could keep her quiet for very long earlier this year. The last time I talked to her on the phone on December 18th, she seemed like she had never had the stroke in the first place. She even seemed a little better having had her second dose of chemo. She said her skin wasn't itching as much and she felt better.
But early Thursday morning, we had heard that she'd slipped into a coma sometime overnight. Aunt Jo got to the hospital by around 10 am Thursday morning to visit with her. Still unconscious, she drew her final breath at 11 am with Aunt Jo at her side. Somehow I think she knew that she wasn't alone. A few days earlier when she could still talk, she told us that she had seen my grandfather who passed away 10 years ago. I've heard that the dying will sometimes see loved ones that have gone before them. My uncle said that he had also seen my grandfather 2 days before he passed away. Seems my grandfather was a busy guy last month.
So, how do you sum up 88 good years of life in just a few short paragraphs? Truth is you can't. I could probably write an entire book and then some. She was so much to so many people. She was the matriarch of our family. She was someone to be admired for what she believed in and what she stood for. She was a faithful wife to my grandfather for over 55 years. A loving mother to 3 children and a wonderful, caring grandmother to 6 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren. I really didn't want this to read like an obit. Sorry. If everyone she knew were to write down what they remember about Grandmom Dee, you would probably get just as many different stories. But one thing is for sure. There would be a common thread in each and every one of them. She was a kind, loving, and caring woman that loved God, loved life, loved her family, and loved her friends. She was never bitter, never complained, and never swore.
Nannette often told me that I should never teach the kids anything I wouldn't want them repeating in front of Grandmom Dee. She never said that about anyone else but her. The way she lived her life earned her that type of respect.
She was buried next to her husband of 55 years at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Baltimore, Maryland on December 30, 2006 where she was a lifelong member.
Rest easy, Grandmom Dee. You've earned it.
I love you.