You guys. I almost didn't go see Grandma Carlene. 😢
Anyway, I have heard she's been a little cranky lately, and I thought maybe it was best that we didn't go visit on Halloween. We could always find a better time. But then I overheard Evan and Dillon talking about being so excited the night before Halloween. Dillon was saying how he couldn't wait to go trick-or-treating, and to see their grandparents. And then I heard Evan shout, joyfully, "And Grandma Carlene!!" Well...um...I can't deny that! The kid has, literally, had 3 Halloweens, and somehow remembered we ALWAYS go see Grandma Carlene on Halloween.
So, I rearranged the scheduled. I made plans to get out of internship early. I planned to get the boys ready and leave right after school, so we would have plenty of time for all our stops. And we made our first stop, the 15-minute drive to see Grandma Carlene.
That is NOT my typical Grandma! Holidays were her thing! We always visited her on Halloween, and she would joyfully pass out candy to the community kids. She had a special pack for "her" kids, which included just about everyone in any way connected to the family (adults included!). And homemade popcorn balls!!! Those were THE Halloween favorite. Oh, for just one more of Grandma's homemade popcorn balls. 💕 On the best Halloweens, I got to be there to help her make them. Grandma's was so wonderful, always, but especially during holidays.
Grandma seemed shocked and a little confused when we walked in her door on Halloween night. I didn't give her time to wallow in confusion. I barged right in, turned on the light and told her it was me. I think, in part, she was being defiant about participating in this trick-or-treat fest in the confines of a nursing home. (Her grown-up tantrum.) Because, I KNOW she does NOT LIKE being in a nursing home, and YOU GUYS! My Grandma Carlene is so VERY, STRONG-WILLED.
Grandma Carlene is strong, in general.
The woman had twins the first time she gave birth. In those days, you gave birth at home. In those days, you didn't necessarily have the equipment to know that you were going to have twins before the horror of labor began, increased, intensified and ended...just to suddenly start all over again. Oh...and hey...did I mention her husband was at war the whole time. (He was privileged to meet his sons at 3 months of age??!!) The woman is so, ridiculously tough.
In her later years, after Grandpa died, Grandma took on the responsibility of taking care of his aging sister. Unfortunately, they had one very frightful experience. They were waiting in the car at the grocery store, while my uncle went in to pick up medications, when a young man got into the car and tried to take it with both elderly women inside. Well..of course...my Grandma beat the (bad word) out of that guy...from the BACK seat! She grabbed her purse and starting whacking the guy, relentlessly, until he finally gave up.
I reminded Grandma, on Halloween, of this story, and I asked if she remembered. She only vaguely recalled. But as her memory ticked back, and she started to express a little guilt at not participating in the festivities. She gave me multiple excuses as to why she wasn't sitting in the hall and passing out candy. "You know I always did all that."
Oh Grandma, do I EVER know! All the things she did! Every last one. I do not know what fueled her service heart. Christmas presents. Christmas Dinners. Thanksgiving. Halloween. She never let ANYONE feel left out. For a long time, she hosted Sunday lunches for everyone in the family. Every single week.
Grandma started in, on Halloween, about how miserable she is. I knew it would happen. So many of her conversations turn negative these days. She is frustrated by her own inability and the lack of freedom aging has produced. I tried to remind her of the positives she still had. She confided in me how much she just wants to lie down and be done. (That's a nice way of putting it, because she has honestly been making these "death threats" since about 1996! 😂 ) But something in our conversation, or in my face, sparked a memory, and her focus changed a little, "I still love the Lord, but sometimes I am just so angry with Him." And I said, "I get it."
Fortunately, on Halloween, through her confusion, Grandma remembered who I really am. She looked me in the eyes and said, "Well, does anyone want to pray?" 💕
Oh, my goodness, you guys! My heart just melted out onto the floor. "Of course. I will!"
I prayed. And I couldn't help but cry, because I prayed how much I love my God. I prayed how much I know that God knows our hearts and loves us. I prayed about how much I trust in Him. I prayed how much I LOVE her (MINE!), my Grandma Carlene. I prayed that He would help her submit to His perfect will, even when it is really hard. I prayed that He would comfort her and help her focus on things that are positive and happy, while she waits for Him.
That moment was OH...SO...BEAUTIFUL, and it was the most important, defining moment of my week. I couldn't help but walk away feeling more complete.
Is that prayer the end all - be all? Is it the solution to all of her problems? Proabably not. Grandma Carlene will have to continue to wait. It will continue to be hard. But we had this moment. This precious, grateful moment, with God present in the room. This is really the promise and the hope that we hold. He never promised to make it easy. He never promised it wouldn't be hard. What He did promise is that He will enter into these hardships with us. He will comfort us in our affliction, and, in the end, He will make our afflictions worth our while. What more could I ask in this heartbreaking, forsaking existence. It will end, and if I cling to Him, He will make it all eternally good. That is my only reason for HOPE.