As the oldest grandchild, I had always had a special relationship with my Grandma. She took care of me when I was little, I spent summers with her as a teenager, and after she and my Grandad moved in with my mom, I flew down to visit as often as I could. She was always full of energy and full of life. I don't think she ever had a bad day. I wanted to be just like my Grandma. That was why her death shook me so hard.
She and my Grandad were on thier way to a doctor's appointment when my Grandma attempted to pull into the center turn lane from a side street and was hit broadside on the driver's side by an SUV going 50 miles an hour. She broke her pelvis, and her nose. Her bladder ruptured, her heart tore, and her lung collapsed. My Grandad broke his pelvis and his foot. Grandma was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital and Grandad was ambulanced to Eustis Hospital. They were more than 100 miles away from one another. Grandma wasn't stable enough to operate on, and the longer they waited the worse things got. Her kidney's started failing. Her liver stopped working, and she went into a coma. I was about to loose the second most important woman in my life.
My mom called me about a week after the accident and told me that the next morning the doctors were going to take Grandma off of the ventilator. There was no hope of her pulling out of the coma and her body was shutting down too rapidly to stop it. I kept thinking, 'This can't be happening! I just saw her at Christmas!' I was angry with my mom for agreeing to take her off the ventilator. For God's sake, Grandma didn't even know what was happening to her! But Mom told me that Grandma wanted it this way. She had a special clause in her will that stated what was to be done in case of a situation like the one she was in now. I was still angry, but I understood.
My mind kept recalling the last day that I saw her. She was standing on the front porch of my mom's house smiling and waving vigerously as we pulled out of the driveway, on our way back to Oklahoma where my husband was stationed. And now she was 1200 miles away lying unconcious in a hospital waiting to die. How could God justify this? How could He take such a beautiful person so unexpectedly? Why did He have to make her hurt so badly? Why did He have to make US hurt so badly? The next morning my mom called me shortly after noon on Feb. 1, 2002 to tell me my hero, my mentor, my model for life, my second mother, my grandma had just passed on.
I cried for days. I yelled at God. And then I held my two year old son and thanked our Lord for giving my grandma the chance to know her great grand baby. But the greiving wasn't over yet. I still had a funeral to go to, family to face, and more pain to live.
On our way back to Washington from Oklahoma we stopped in Howard, Kansas where my grandmother grew up and had returned to in order to be burried next to her son. My mother and all of my aunts and cousins were there and we sat together in a huddled mass on church pews, sobbing together and holding one another as the funeral director delivered the eulogy. We all wore one of my grandma's many butterfly pins, and tried to comfort one another the best we could, but it was no use.
That day still lives and repeats in our minds and brings fresh tears with every thought.
We love you, Grandma, you'll never know how much you touched our lives.
Loretta Riggs, Feb. 12, 1925 - Feb. 1, 2002