Thursday, March 12, 2015

Hearbreaking beauty

Last Sunday my brother and his family and my little family all gathered at my Mama's house to celebrate a few birthdays.  We found out that my grandma had also suffered a stroke that morning back in Montana and was in the ICU.  She was 92 so things never look very good at that point.  As we talked and checked our air miles we realized that three of us could fly to Montana to be with our extended family there, and help make arrangements if necessary.  So my Mama, my brother and I, packed our things late Sunday night and then flew out first thing Monday morning.

We arrived at the Bozeman hospital and through tears, sat in with the hospice meetings and went in to see Grammy.  They didn't think she would make it very long.  We held her frail little hands that didn't look anything like Grammy's hands anymore (I'd never seen her without nail polish) and stroked her soft cheek and told her that we loved her.  She didn't open her eyes and we cried...but we got to be there.  It was heartbreaking. She passed away late last night, shortly after we had landed back home.

I should be doing a million other things like unpacking, laundry, sleeping... but I had to share the photos I took this past week.  For some reason, I didn't bring my camera.  I don't know why... I just didn't.  But I had my phone and I took a lot of photos of things that I wanted to remember, and things that held memories for me and then edited them on the plane ride home last night.  I hope you don't mind if I share those with you as I remember my Grammy this morning.  It's kind of how I process.  I loved her so very much and knew that she loved me.  I'll see her in heaven someday so that's what I'm focusing on today.  She always called me Sashie or Darlin'.  I'll miss that.  I'll miss a lot of things about her and her house like the way it smelled and her cinnamon rolls.  It was strange being there without her in the kitchen snapping her fingers and being her cute self.

 It was heartbreaking taking home a few mementos of her to hold dear.  But also beautiful in an odd way.  I got a couple of her cameras for my collection and I love that she took baby pictures of my Mama and Auntie with one of them.  I got to bring home a stack of her pretty hankies.  A lady always carries a pretty hanky... and she always had a few up her sleeve.  Butterflies remind me of her, as she had them all over her house.  I took one off her door and it will hang in my home now.
We found her pretty charm bracelet while we were there.  One time she told me about every single charm... I wish I could remember them all. But I can't.  That's heartbreaking. 
  I loved this doorknob.  It was on her porch where we would sometimes sit and visit.  I'd listen to her tell my Mama about who had married who, divorced, had babies and who had died. I always loved quietly listening in to those talks.  I think I'll frame this photo someday.

 Yesterday, I was feeling stir-crazy after hospice meetings, funeral home meetings and talking about all the details that go along with impending death, so I dragged my brother around the town that my Grammy spent nearly her entire life in, and the same town that my Mama grew up in.  I have so many memories there from my childhood... my cousins and I rode bikes and little motorcycles everywhere.  We got into trouble together and had the best times.

 I snapped this from the car.  It was far more beautiful than this photo.
 I love the Montana countryside... it seeps into my bones and fills my heart.  It was just what I needed and my brother Jake and I had time to talk and even laugh together.  That felt like a good way to honor Grammy. I'm pretty sure the ranchers were laughing at me photographing their barbed wire and hay and hopping ditches for that perfect shot.  The town has a population of about 200-300 so we were pretty obviously not from around there.

We got to eat breakfast at the tavern.  That totally made my day.  My Mama said, "Oh gosh I hope I don't see anyone I know," and my brother said, "Mom, it's 10 o'clock on a Tuesday."  There was a little pause then Mama said, "Yeah. It could happen."  We laughed ourselves silly over that one.  I'd never been inside the Tavern so my Uncle made sure we went in through the bar entrance just for me... and there were a few cowboys sipping coffee in there.  I loved that.
 On the first morning there, we were sitting in Grammy's kitchen and suddenly a huge herd of cows came tromping down the main street.  I was dying!!  My Uncle and Mama laughed their heads off at my excitement as I ran out into Grammy's front yard to snap photos! Apparently the ranchers do this a few times a year when they have to get the cattle from one pasture to the other and it's totally normal, according to Mama.  They do it very quickly, sometimes on four-wheelers and sometimes on horses.  The cowboys laughed at me standing there snapping photos on my phone but I was so happy.

 This is the grain barn that my cousins and I played around as kids but weren't supposed to.

 This was the creek my Mama almost drowned in when she was a little girl and forbid me to ever go in...   Pretty sure my cousins and I pushed that boundary a time or two and came home with wet ankles and feet... Ha.
 Everyone waves as they pass you.  No matter what.  I was waving at them all like what must have looked like a happy lunatic. hahaha! I miss that Montana friendliness so much. I wish people in my town waved.
 I'll be framing this.... (In fact I'm still considering closing my Etsy shop but am thinking about having one last party with a few of these special photos for sale.  Stay tuned.)

 It was about this point that Jake was like, "How many more photos is Sash going to take?"  He had no idea. But he was a very good little brother and wandered all over with me, dutifully holding my latte every time I needed to take a photo and then smiling for as many selfies as I wanted him to take with me. Love that guy.
 Might have to frame this too.
 I found my dream truck.

 Those mountains are so comforting to me.  I grew up looking at them so in the midst of heartbreak, it felt so good to be cradled by the beautiful familiar.

 Jaker... Jakey... Jakey-poo... big Jake...Officer McJakey. My little big brother, Jake.  I love him so, and couldn't have imagined this trip without him there. He hugged me when I was crying and though it was under sad circumstances that we were all there, it was so much fun to be with my Mama and brother and laugh late into the night telling stories. 

 This is the gate to Grammy's house.  There is an alley between my Auntie's house and Grammy's house so I've gone through this gate millions of times my entire life.  Running back and forth between the houses was a huge part of our family gatherings there.
 My cousin handcuffed me to this fence once.  My Daddy wasn't very pleased and you can still see the spot where he pulled the bottom of the fence out of the ground to set me free.  We laughed our heads off about that, and how my cousin rode his bike off as fast as his legs could carry him because he knew he was going to get his hide tanned when they caught up to him.  (If you grew up in the country you know what getting your hide tanned feels like. Ha!) We laughed about a lot of old stories... like that time when I was about 11 and my cousin taught me how to ride a motorcycle with a clutch and then I promptly forgot.  I kept ramming into the side of Grammy's house... until my Uncle showed up out of nowhere, put his hands on the handlebars, and said, "I think that's about enough young lady."  He never yelled at me but he had that voice... and man, I just knew.  Haha.
This was the Methodist church where my Mama had her first communion.  There are about a million other stories and memories and it seems like everyone in town is a cousin or relative.

I can't believe that I'll never walk into her house again, breathe deeply because no place on earth smells like Grammy's house, and see her waiting to hug me. I'll hug her in Heaven and I'll love her always.  So glad she was my Grammy.   
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  1. Oh, Sasha. This was beatifuly heartbreaking. I read every word, and giggled over your stories, and sighed over your photos, and cried over your sadness. I lost my Gramma a few years ago to Alzheimers, which actually stole her away from us a few years before she passed. I still miss her every day. I went through a rough patch with my job a little bit a go, and wished nothing more than to be sitting in her kitchen at the table, having a heart to heart with her about it. I send you all my love and prayers.

    <3 B

    1. Thank you so much girl... and did you see that you won the Heartcrafted Co giveaway?

  2. So sorry for your loss! You have wonderful memories and took some beautiful pictures. My 84 yr old father died unexpectedly just one month ago! And my lovely Mother died five years ago, she was ill yet in a big way it was unexpected. When you talked about holding your Grammy's hands and stroking her cheek and her being unaware and unable to speak back it brought back those last days with my Mom. Cherish your memories and hold on tight, time goes by so quickly! I miss my parents so deeply it still hurts! Take care of yourself in these next days and months! Again, sorry for you loss!

  3. Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos, I have really enjoyed looking at them and reading your memories. It's so important to have treasured memories and it sounds like you have a lot of your Grammy and that's so good. Sending love. Margaret (Buckinghamshire, England)

  4. You have wonderful sympathies to your family.

  5. Awe, what a precious post! I so hope that when I'm gone from this earth that my Grans will have such precious memories of me. Blessings to you during this time of grief. Hugs!

  6. What a beautiful tribute to a woman who is such a strong part of your foundation. Thank you for sharing your memories with us. I am sorry for your loss.

  7. I am so sorry for your loss of your special grandma, she sounds amazing. Your photos illustrate a beautiful story of a beautiful woman you loved so much.

  8. you have a wonderful legacy sasha. as a native of montana, i LOVE taking pics of fences, cattle, and more.... no matter the looks! and YES. everyone waves! it's pretty cool. am thinking you were in the whitehall/bozeman area? just a guess. but it's all beautiful, and your photos are wonderful... i enjoyed it very much. God bless your family's hurting hearts as you all grieve the loss of grandma, and may His comfort ever be strong in your hearts.

  9. Thank you for posting your picture memories! Very fitting, as we say final goodbyes to my husband's Nana this weekend. It's sad to lose grandparents...there is a certain kind of "magic" with them, that every grandkid understands. Yours sounded like a super lady!!! My sympathy to you. Holly Davis

  10. Dear sweet precious friend and sister-in-CHRIST: Lifting you up in prayer. May the sweet HOLY SPIRIT comfort you as only He can. May the LORD's peace and presence surround each of you in the days ahead. Your Grammy sounds like a wonderful lady and you have been blessed with such wonderful memories of the times you spend together. Thankful you'll see her again in heaven! Love and blessings to each of you from Oklahoma! :o)

  11. Thank you for taking us home with you and letting us relive your memories. I pray that , on those sad days, you will be able to quickly recall sweet memories that bring a smile to your face and fill your heart with joy. May God bring comfort and peace, as only He can, during this time! Heaven...the thoughts of meeting all of those whom we hold dear, warms my being to the very core.

  12. Sasha, I'm so sorry about your Grammy. It sounds as if you found much comfort and love with your mom and brother. Your photographs are beautiful, and so heartfelt. The one of the hankies reminds me of my Grandma. She used to embroider pillowcases and when she passed away, my aunt gave some of them to me and I cherish them. Grandmas are so special and it is so, so hard when they leave us. God bless your Grammy. I hope the wonderful memories of her give you and your family much comfort and peace.

  13. I am so sorry Sasha. What a comfort to know your Grammy is with her Savior now and that you will see her again. What a blessing to have such a precious Grammy and wonderful memories. So glad you were able to spend time with family before she passed. What a sacred time. How true what you said about the smell of her house!! Beautiful photos to remember such a precious time.

  14. Oh Sasha - Bitter-Sweet! The loss of a very dear one and yet old and new memories with loved ones still here! I am so sorry for you and your family's loss here on earth, but rejoice with you all that you WILL one day be reunited! Thank you for sharing your special memories and beautiful pictures! I can't wait to see what you do with them on your Etsy shop :) Praying for you in your time of loss!! Love ya!

  15. Loved the cows coming through town! Seriously how amazingly cool is that!! God timed that little nugget just for your joy I guarantee it! So sorry about your grandma. I remember that pain like it was yesterday. Even though they are OLD it's never easy to let them go! Hugs friend.

  16. {{{hugs}}}
    I send you my condolences as well.

  17. Aww, Sasha, I am so sorry about Irene. She was just so fun and kind. I know you will miss her and your mom will miss just the pure true fact she isn't there. Grief is hard but normal and real and what a blessing she is with our Lord and Savior now. Hopng all is going well with you guys. I love the pics you posted of home, gosh I miss it there, Your Mama is right, 10 am at the tavern not at all impossible to run into people you know....that made me giggle when I read it. I could just see her face when she said that. Keep in touch please...I love You..Tina

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