We Will See You Again

She went out accompanied by a blaze of northern lights, some of the most brilliant seen around here in ages. Heaven welcoming a gallant soul home with fanfare.

Even after her breathing had slowed drastically, her heart remained strong until the end. We always knew her heart was bigger and stronger than most.

Her humor was one of the last things to go when the Alzheimer’s took over. Even when she was in the nursing home and couldn’t even recognize Grandpa, she would try to tease the nurses and aids. They all loved her.

They were married for sixty years. Two days before she finally died, I sat and watched him hold her hand as he told us the only reason he underwent chemo and fought so hard for life through the blood clots last year was so that he could take care of her, make sure her ending was peaceful and dignified, so that he could take care of her to the end. None of his kids could speak at that point, so I managed to choke out that he had done a wonderful job of it. They were an example to us all.

Of eight kids, six managed to make it home to say goodbye, only the one in Australia and the one in Arizona not able to get back. Fully half of the grandkids were able to come. No one fought, no one argued, no one tried to make things difficult for anyone else. Everyone acted as selflessly as human beings can act. Another testimony to the love and respect everyone had for her.

The hospital nurses teared up when their weekend shift ended, knowing they wouldn’t see her again alive.

There was as much laughter as tears around her bedside, as stories were shared and memories were dredged up and old jokes revived. Her fifteen-year-old grandson played his guitar, everyone sang, and her last days were filled with the music and laughter she loved so well.

She has been gone for a long time. Twelve years ago was when she was finally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, at that point too far advanced to do anything but watch and pray as it slowly disintegrated the woman we all knew. The pneumonia that took her tonight was a release from that living death (twelve years is phenomenally long for Alzheimer’s sufferers – most don’t live more than five years), and our tears were as much joy for her as sorrow.

She is whole again now. She is free. She is rejoicing and laughing with her Lord.

It hurts, still, but this is a clean hurt, one that will heal. The pain of the Alzheimer’s never went away; it would lie dormant for a time, but it was always there lurking in the background. This – already there is a peace growing from the sorrow.

We will miss her. We have missed her for years. But her legacy – the love, the laughter, the strength and faith and joy – she passed that on, not only to her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, but to all who knew her. I am proud to call myself her granddaughter, and you can be sure my girls will grow up knowing about what an amazing woman their great-grandmother was.

Rest in Peace? Maybe. Personally, I suspect she is singing and dancing right now.

And laughing.

Lois Elnina Bates, May 20, 1929 (I think, but I can’t get a solid year out of anyone right now) – October 24, 2011

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13 thoughts on “We Will See You Again

  1. Bless you all. You're still all in my prayers as you now go through the motions of saying goodbye to her earthly self. The peace now, I think, is for all of you. You can now all rest, knowing that she is now set free to dance, to sing, and to laugh again.

  2. What a beautiful entry, Louise. Your grandmother sounds like an amazing woman who was lucky enough to have an amazing family around her. I'm sorry for all of your loss but like you I am glad she is at peace. x

  3. What a lovely, eloquent tribute to a wonderful soul. Her family is a wonderful legacy to her life here on earth. Our family sends our love and deepest of sympathies to all members of the Bates' family. May God, and memories of your mom/grandmother, carry you through the difficult days ahead. With love, Steve and Mary-Ann

  4. What a tribute, I still remember them coming into the store. She has won the victory and the ultimate healing. Her legacy lives on in all your family. Let me tell you that the examples you and your father set as christians led me back to Christ.

  5. I'm so sorry for your loss, and grateful that you chose to share this beautiful tribute. Absent from the body and present with the Lord? Who wouldn't want to dance!

  6. Sweetheart, I am so sorry she is gone, and so glad she is whole again.Hugs and love and prayers are yours, from me, and I am only sorry it took me this long to convey them to you all.

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