The Roses' grandmother, my mother, "Guppy," died at 1:24 this morning. Here is the story. Guppy had a hospice appointment on Friday morning at 9:00 a.m. At about 9:12 a.m., my sister sent me a text (I was in a meeting, in which I had warned the people I was meeting with that I would maybe need to leave) that hospice had said she could go at any minute, so we needed to come right away.
H and I sped over to St. Paul; we arrived about 9:47 a.m. Guppy had not really been awake for a couple of days, and she was breathing in a more labored way. Her entire family gathered around - all of my sisters and brothers, their wives and husbands and partners, and all of her grandchildren. Her brother and sister-in-law were there, and her best friend Ginny. We sang songs (Row, Row, Row Your Boat - in a round!, "It's Time to Say Hello Now," which is borrowed from Sunday School, You Are My Sunshine, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, and others), held her hand, read memories from the memory jar. Laughed and cried. Said goodbye.
Friends cooked dinner and we had a big dinner. Slowly, people started to drift away, until only my sister Bridget and I were left, sitting on either side of Guppy's bed, uholding her hand. We gossiped, chatted, told her about how sad we would be when she left us, but that we would be OK. We read the letters we had both written to her a couple of months ago. We both were really tired, and left after my brother Andy and sister-in-law Tonya got up from their brief nap to sit with Guppy.
I got home and went to bed, after fetching Rose #3 to sleep with me. I was afraid that I might get a middle of the night visit from Guppy's spirit, and I thought that if I had Rose #3 with me, I wouldn't be so afraid. (Logic was not my strong suit at that point.) But the phone rang at 1:20; it was another sister telling me that I needed to come back to Guppy's house because her breathing had changed. So, I did - got up and got into our minivan. I was so tired, everything looked like it was passing in front of my eyes in a series of pictures. I got to Guppy's house and parked the car, and stumbled up the sidewalk. I saw my brother on the porch, and asked him if she was still with us. He shook his head sadly, and said she had passed.
We stayed with her and with my dad while my dad called hospice to report that she had died. My mom is being cremated, and the hospice nurse called the cremation service to come and pick her up. They waited until those of us that wanted to said goodbye. I chose to spend a little time alone with my mom's body. It was the first time I have ever done something like that; I'm glad that I did even though it was scary and sad. I stroked her hand and kissed her head before I left the room. A short while later the cremation service arrived and took care of her body; they removed it on a pallet and then wheeled it to the hearse on a gurney. After that I went home, and cuddled down into my bed with Rose #3 and H.
Yesterday and today were long days, and it is almost time for bed. It is going to be hard to recover from this loss. But we know Guppy is at peace, and she is watching over us. Certainly she is still with us, because we know that this love never dies.