About nine years before my paternal Grandma (Grama) died, she had a heart attack. The family gathered at her bedside. She spoke elegant and eloquent goodbyes. She was so ready to go to heaven – and then she didn’t die. This made her angry. It took some time for her to accept with peace the extra days God granted her.
As I sat outside the hospital, prepared to say goodbye to Grama, this song was playing in my car: “My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine.... I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death, and praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath.” I was in tears. As much as I didn’t want to say goodbye to Grama, I knew that this song gave voice to her life and faith.
In the years that followed, Grama descended into dementia. When she couldn’t remember us, when she couldn’t remember what year it was or that her husband had died thirty years before, she remembered the name of Jesus. I can still hear her calling out to him as I walked away from my last visit with her.
As a hospice social worker, I often heard the last words that people could remember, held in some worn pathway of their mind. I wonder, with some trepidation, what will my mind hold on to? I hope they will be kind words. I hope I will say, “If ever I loved Thee, My Jesus, ’tis now.”
Kathi Perry, adapted from Fruit of the Vine