My Grandma’s Goodbye

Her grandmother's death came a day before she could deliver a gift; instead, she received a gift from the afterlife.

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Trudy gets so many questions and stories of end-of-life experiences from Guideposts readers, we decided to make her responses a regular feature on her blog.

Dear Trudy,

Here is my glimpse of heaven:

By the time my grandmother fell and broke her leg, she had already lost her battle. Her only sister had passed before her, and my uncle, Gram's youngest child, had died as well. Gram was slipping into early dementia and her eyesight was almost completely claimed by macular degeneration. When my brother discovered her on her bathroom floor, he called 911. She left her house as she said she always would: feet first.

Gram survived that incident to be placed in a home, but I think all she held dear had already been taken from her. I visited when I could. I knew she couldn't see, but I was unsure how much she still understood. During those times, I would give her a manicure. That way I felt that even though she might not be able to see me or know who I was, we could make a tactile connection. I brought in a picture of her when she was in her prime and set it on her nightstand so the staff could see who she really was.

One day, my father called and told me that the home said Gram was declining. I immediately planned to see her the following weekend, a few days away. I tried to think of something comforting I could bring her and stumbled upon a wonderful idea: a Hawaiian lei. My uncle lived in Hawaii for years and would bring Gram leis when he came home for the holidays. She loved those flower necklaces, and they were also something she could still enjoy with her other senses. I prepared to order a lei for my Saturday visit.

Friday came and my father called again. Gram had passed. My heart was instantly heavy with the thought that I had missed my chance to say goodbye. I wasn't a regular churchgoer, but suddenly I felt the need to pray in the peace of a church. I got in my car and headed out. I cried, grief-stricken, as I pulled up to a stoplight, but then I noticed the car in front of me. I blinked and looked twice, and there it was. Dangling from that car's rear-view mirror was a lei. I couldn't get to my Gram in time to say goodbye, but this was obviously her way of letting me know that everything was all right.

Lisa Taner
San Mateo, CA

Dear Lisa,

The tender love and connection you had with your grandmother, comes through your every line and word. To see her injured, after breaking her leg and losing her sight, must have been heartbreaking for you. How wonderful that you understood the need for a loving touch during this special time in her life. Elderly people are so often not lovingly handled and they miss expressions of tenderness. I am certain that she enjoyed her manicures and your gentle hands. 

I love to see pictures on nightstands in nursing homes as you mentioned. It gives those caring for your loved ones an idea of who they were at a different time in life. So often older people are treated as a "group thought" and not as the special people they were and still are.

How precious that she loved leis and that your uncle brought them to her when he visited. It would have been the perfect gift for you to give to her, but God chose to take her before you were able to do that. Knowing she would be in heaven before you had the chance to see her, God arranged for her to send one to you. Yes, she was letting you know she was now happy and safe in God's care. You are very blessed.

You will have great peace because you loved her well.

Trudy Harris

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