The Gift of Reconciliation, Reunion and How It Will Shape My New Year’s Resolution
In October I wrote a post about the potential of losing a loved one at the holidays.
While I am writing this, my grandmother is still with us. However, she will never be the same. She relies on round the clock care from caretakers. Her dementia has been thrown into overdrive and she does not remember what I have told her five minutes before. It is no longer me that she relies on, but her daytime caretaker for security. While she is still with us, I have lost her.
I have found myself uttering the same cliche phrases many do in situations like this. “It would be a blessing if God takes her,” “She is not living, she is existing,” “She is never going to be any better than she is right now.” After speaking these phrases, I feel the residual guilt as though I am trying to speed up the process. It is not my place to play God. Everything is in His timing. I have prayed that as God sees how devastating this loss of independence has been to her, He would choose to take her home sooner rather than later. He ALWAYS has a plan.
I shared what I am certain was my last Thanksgiving meal with my grandmother this past November. While her dementia has progressed significantly, she had some moments of great understanding and clarity while we shared our meal and time together. I asked her point blank if she was tired and ready to go to Heaven. Her eyes welled up with tears and she confided in me that she was not certain she was going there. I reminded her that she had been to church with me and prayed the salvation prayer. I asked her if she believed that Jesus died on the cross for her sins. She looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said, “Yes, I believe that”. I held back my own tears as I told her she IS going to Heaven. I told her God gave her the gift of Heaven the minute she started believing that Jesus died for her sins. She likely forgot our conversation the minute we returned to her apartment, but I am at peace that she was present during the conversation.
I asked my grandmother a few times when she was at the hospital and rehabilitation facility if she would like to see my mom. She declined each time. My grandmother is my father’s mother. She has always been very critical of my mom, her daughter-in-law. As I became older, I decided it was easier to keep them apart.
While conversing with my grandma at Thanksgiving I brought the subject up again. I told her my mom really wanted to spend time with her. I reminded her that she had declined her previous offers to visit. This time my grandma’s response was, “Well, if she wants to come see me, I guess that would be alright. There is no reason to hold grudges.” I was astounded! As my dear friend and neighbor put it, “She is cleaning up her house before she is ready to go”.
My mom came out from Nevada and we headed over to visit with my grandmother the week after Thanksgiving. They had not seen each other since 2001. Emotional does not adequately describe the scene as we walked into my grandmother’s apartment. She and my mom cried and hugged for a long time.
I could feel the guilt, shame, resentment, bitterness and all other negative emotions wash away with their tears. God blessed me with the gift of seeing them reunite. My mom sent me out of the apartment and they had the opportunity to truly reconcile. My mom now calls her regularly and visits whenever she is in town.
I now feel more prepared to receive the call my grandma is gone. Will it be heartbreaking? Of course, you can never really prepare for loss. But now I am at peace with His timing because of the peace he has brought to my family.
I was able to feel love between the two ladies (both so instrumental in my life) who I didn’t even allow in the same room together for over a decade. That was the most unexpected and beautiful Christmas gift I could have ever received.
This brings me to my New Year’s Resolution. It is quite simply to be more like my mother. I find this ironic since we spend our younger years swearing that we will not become our mothers.
These are the traits I want to emulate:
She Walks The Walk – My mom is a much better Christian than I am even though I introduced her to church. She has a huge heart for others and always tends to naturally do the right thing.
Forgiveness– You could walk up to my mom and throw dirt in her face and she would still have something nice to say to you. She knew every spiteful comment my grandmother has made about her over the years and yet she had no hesitation about seeing her and showing her love. My mom forgives quickly, completely and does not hold grudges. She always encourages me to take the first step if I am at odds with people in my life.
Unconditional Love– Even when I went through the darkest periods of my life and was a terrible person to be around, my mom never gave up on me. She has a servant’s heart and would do anything for anyone. She has never met a stranger and I am certain people who encounter her remember her smile and her heart.
Generosity– For as long as I can remember, my mom has extended invitations to friends or neighbors who do not have anywhere to go for the holidays. While our family may be rather small, the house was always filled to capacity at the holidays.
This has been a life altering year for me. I have experienced many significant changes and more are on their way. If I can live by the four core values I have watched my mom live by so effortlessly, I am certain I can weather any storm.
Were you able to have important conversations with someone you love before their passing?
Have you been given the gift of reconciliation within your own family?
What are your New Year’s Resolutions this year? May I suggest it go something like this?