Remembering Her

I arrived to her room at the hospice house that night holding the innocent, naïve hands of my daughters.  As a family we had decided that maybe it was time for the grandchildren to see her for the last time.  She was declining by the hour at that point and I wanted to make sure that my girls, the oldest of the 9 grandkids, would be able to see her one last time in a way that was recognizable and not frightening.  The last 11 weeks had been so hard on them, especially my first born, who was just old enough to understand the finality of it all.  I knew after our visit tonight, my little girls would enter into a new phase of life, one that knew pain and loss in a new and profound way.  Just when I didn’t think it was possible, I hated cancer a fair measure more.

Hannah held my hand tight, tears welled in her blue eyes but none escaped to her cheeks, and she walked with the stoic grace of a woman much more mature than her 9 years, to the edge of the bed, but it was too late.  The transformation had already begun and their Grandma would never be the same.  I could see it and Hannah could see it.  Hannah laid her body against the side of the bed and stretched her tiny frame as far as she could, wrapping both her arms around the Grandma who had rocked her to sleep so many times.  Rachel timidly came from behind and joined her big sister.  Their brown hair blanketed her bed as they buried their faces in her chest.

She became lucid for a moment, aware of the embrace of her beloved granddaughters and touched their hair.  She spoke, partially profound and partially nonsensical, of her love for them and for Jesus, and for peanut butter and Cinderella.  All the while her body made random twitches that made the scene even more surreal.   A few moments passed and she had drifted back to sleep.  With tears on her chin, Rachel whispered, “Goodbye Grandma.” and my heart broke again into a million pieces.

As we walked to the waiting room I wondered how much my 7 year old would remember about her Grandma.  Would she remember her voice, her laugh, the way she talked with her hands, the certain strut in her walk?  How would I be able to keep these things alive for her when they seemed to already be fading from my own memory?  Even though her body was still with us, the disease and the drugs had stolen her from us by now.  I missed her already.  It was just so wrong that this beautiful woman, grandmother to 9 (at the time and now 12) would not be remembered by most of her grandchildren.

Six years later, I still struggle with this.  I look at my children and see glimmering pieces of her in all of them; Hannah with her walk with that ‘certain strut’ and the same ‘old soul’ maturity beyond her years, Rachel with her ‘swimmer’s body’ and her natural cooking ability and Rylon with his dimples and the way his memory is so keen like hers was.  I tell them stories, the good, the bad and the down right hilarious, but it just doesn’t seem to be enough.  We look at pictures, use the things she gave us and the things she left us, bake her recipes, we even have an old bottle of her perfume.  Something always seems to be missing.  And the stories, the things, the smells don’t quite do her justice.  And then it hits me, “Oh yeah, it’s her…  We can’t recreate her…”

But, we can keep telling the stories.  When I point to my son’s dimple and say, “That’s cute!  Where’d you get that?” he readily knows and giggles back, “Grandma Crum!” and I believe it gives him just a little bit more of the sense of love and pride about from where he came.  It is like a little connection to his past and maybe to his future.  Who knows, maybe one day, as he lovingly rubs his finger into the indent of his own child, he will say, “That’s cute!  Where’d you get that?”

So I’m asking you.  Not because I don’t remember her, but because sometimes I feel like my memory just isn’t quite enough.  Tell me, Tell us, Tell them your stories, so that her legacy of love all the other stuff can live on with them, and so that they can get to know the incredible woman that was their Grandma Crum.

Thank you,

Vicki

The Annual Grandkids Picture 2003

The Annual Grandkids Picture 2003-With Grandpa and Grandma Crum

The Annual Grandkids Picture 2004- Carrying Quilts Made By Grandma Crum

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16 thoughts on “Remembering Her

  1. I remember Kathy as a mom to us all through Girl Scouts. I remember the patient, loving mom who laughed away our foolish mistakes like when we thought the cookie recipe called for CUPS of salt instead of spoons lol…and how she was always there each and every camping trip to guide our often misadventures in cooking! She was a wonderful cook but also knew a big part of the adventure was us learning on our own so those poor troop leaders ate so many HORRID meals cooked by the ever proud gaggle of girls 🙂

    • I’ll never forget her face when she tasted that cookie!!! Or watching her rinse the chocolate chips so that we could try again. I loved the Girl Scout cookouts. She always willing to be a teacher in the kitchen. She loved you, April! Thanks for all the little memories you have shared over the years.

  2. Thanks for sharing, Vicki. I walk that same road, too, as you know, and you express so eloquently thoughts that I cannot usually adequately articulate.

    • Thank you, Tami! Those are the kind of words that inspire me to keep telling my story. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate them!

  3. Hannah, Rachel and Rylon,
    I knew your Grandma Crum when your mom and I were in our high school youth group. We were all headed somewhere – a retreat or on choir tour, I don’t remember – and were divided into a “girls bus” and a “boys bus”. Of course, your grandma was on the “girls bus” with us girls.

    With an openness and willingness that engaged us all, she spent almost two hours listening to all the questions teenaged girls have about boys and life and growing up. She answered each question frankly and with all the detail and information we were afraid to ask in our follow up questions.

    Your grandma laughed with us and prayed with us on that rickety church bus. It has been at least 25 years since I rode that bus with your mom and your grandma, but I remember your grandma for her joy in hanging out with us youth.

    Leslie

    • That was such an awesome memory to share with us, Leslie! I remember that night as well! She would be so happy to know you remembered that time and her enthusiasm for sharing her faith with the church youth. She lived a life that was an open book, and that night was proof!

  4. Hannah, Rachel, and Rylon–

    I too was in Girl Scouts with your mom growing up and I have such wonderful memories of your Grandma. I moved to Washington in the 7th grade and didn’t know anyone and Girl Scouts was the first thing my Mom found for me that was something familiar from where we’d lived before. I remember Kathy and how much ENERGY and love and fun and honesty and patience she was full of! We had so many misadventures as a Girl Scout troop–especially when it came to camping! It seemed like every trip we went on had some horrible downpour of rain and I remember your grandmother always being so cheerful–which must have been hard with a bunch of complaining, hormonal girls like we all were in junior high.

    My clearest memory of your grandmother though was when I saw her at a friend’s wedding when your mom was pregnant with Hannah, her first grandchild. She was so JOY filled at the prospect of getting to be a grandmother and she glowed in the way that pregnant women are said to glow–that’s how excited she obviously was about this new grandbaby. I remember her wanting to jump up and get things for your mom, to take care of her, to mother her as she herself became a mother. In fact, that is the memory of her that I hold very close–at the time I was a long, long ways from having my own children yet, but I remembered thinking how I hoped my mother would be just as excited when it came her turn to be a grandmother. I now have 4 children of my own…and now I fully understand that love that your grandmother had for your mom…and for each of you…

    • Marie, One of the things I know my mom always had such a soft spot for were her Girl Scouts. She LOVED being an influence on the lives of all of her girls. I’m so glad you shared about those days! I also remember that wedding reception. There was nothing more that my mom loved than being a grandma and the anticipation of her first grandchild was incredible. It was such a special time between us as mother and daughter and it was really neat to see it from your perspective.

    • I can still remember her coming into my hospital room on her birthday and telling me the exciting news that your little guy had arrived! She was so excited that she was getting not one, but TWO babies on her birthday! You made her day!

  5. Kathy taught me the song “Last kiss” and whenever I hear it(tothis day) I sing it loud and clear for us both. Several months after my own Mom died Kathy called me and we talked for about 2 hours. She was not in any hurry to get off the phone…she was happy to listen and remember with me. She was a great friend all through my High school years. I was the one with the car so we took off many a Sat. eve to cruise the gut. She passed away 3 days after one of my Great Nephews was born so I can always remember how long it has been.
    God’s Blessings to you all

    • Shirley, It is always so fun to hear stories from those who “knew her when…” You know, I have 2 teenagers now and I can only hope that they are forming the kind of friendships that you and mom had. Feel free to send along more of those memories! ~Vicki

  6. I remember standing on a plastic bucket with a cup of coffee in my hand talking to Kathy. Did it almost every morning. One of us would call the other and say “meet you at the fence”. We could talk about anything. How we loved our kids and husbands even when they drove us nuts. We ruled Girl Scouts. I remember at day camp when we did a skit. With one of us sitting behind the other, we became one. I can’t remember who’s arms and who’s legs but the picture in my mind always makes me laugh. She always had time to just talk. I was honored to be considered one of her friends. I can see pieces of her in her grandchildren. A smile. The shape of a face. Eyes. Nose. What a wonderful thing to see her in their faces.

    • Thank you so much Barbara! I remember you guys talking at the fence too! I have several pictures of “Camper Kathy”! I’ll have to send them along to you!

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