Grandma passed away peacefully in her sleep at around one o’clock this morning.
Brandon and I spent the evening with her last night, holding her hand, stroking her hair and telling her we loved her and that we wished her a safe journey. She was experiencing some pain, so we gave her some medication to make her more comfortable. When I went to bed at around 10:30 she was resting peacefully.
Brandon got up at around 1:30 to check on her and came to let me know she had passed. She looked peaceful at the end. She passed away in her sleep, just the way she wanted to.
In the past few days, as it became clear that Grandma was getting closer to the end, I’d say progressively sillier things to try to get her to engage. A favorite (since her sense of humor tended to be on the dark side) was to lean in close to her and ask “Do you want me to punch Brandon in the face?”
Regardless of her mental state at the time, this always stimulated some sort of response from her. Last night, a few hours before she passed, was no different. When I asked, she sort of smiled a little. A little later she smacked me in the face with her hand. Not hard…almost playfully. In the end, the Grandma that I have always loved was still in there, playing jokes and making me laugh.
So…this chapter of my life is officially over. My commitment to keep Grandma at home through the end has been fulfilled. I have a deep sense of gratitude for the time I got to spend with her. I know it’s going to take a lot of time to process the last two and a half years. It’s been an incredible journey, bookended by the death of my Mother and the death of my Grandmother. I put my life on hold and took what had up until that point been a fairly selfish existence and learned how to be selfless.
It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve had an amazing support network of friends, and at the end the amazing folks at Providence Hospice were the anchor that kept me grounded through some emotionally trying times. I’ve also learned that I have strength I never knew I had. We all do, if we trust it.
I’m grateful that my brother was able to be here with me at the end. I know it’s what Grandma wanted, and I’m so thankful for his presence here now.
I want to thank all of the folks who’ve read and commented on my blog. I’ve appreciated your stories, wisdom and support as I’ve navigated this process more than you know.
Hug your loved ones. Hold them close. Tell them you love them but more importantly show them through your actions.
Rob, I just read a bunch of entries and was so glad to get to share in some time and storytelling the other night about Norma and this journey. Your commitment to her and to something outside of getting your own needs met is an inspiration and a call that we all can find a place to give service. Loved her poems and your pictures. Glad the new house was blessed by her spirit. Much love and aloha, Sarah
Thanks so much, Sarah, I’m glad you came over- Thanks so much for the lovely flowers, by the way- very sweet!
How are you holding up at home all alone now? Brandon and Michi appear to have moved on in their travels. Which means you probably have an empty house. Thinking about you today..
Slowly getting used to it. In many ways it’s not much different. She was pretty easy to be around. Still…there’s a lot that’s different, too. I can’t shake the urge to hurry home after work…only to get here and wonder what the rush was. Thanks for thinking about me!
Hello, I was just looking through my list of bookmarked blogs, and wondered how you’re doing, over a month after your Grandma’s passing.
…It’s only been 2 and a half weeks…but I’m doing alright…it’s an adjustment, that’s for sure…
Hi Rob, I don’t know you but someone posted your blog on FB and I just read some of your past entries as well as the current one. Blessings on your dear grandma in her soul’s journey onward, and blessings and comfort to you in this tender time. You are clearly a dear and soulful man and I wishing all goodness for all of your days.
Rob & Brandon: Am sorry about your grandmas passing. Just know that she is with her girls and they are watching over you and are so proud of you. Aunt Norma was the last of the Schmid family and there are only a few first cousins left and I don’t know how many second cousins. I never met you grandmother but once. She and your grandfather came to Iowa in the midst of a November 11th snow storm, I was going to country school at the time and remember them spending the night at our house. She even gave my sister a perm while they were there. I did not know your mother well but did enjoy the time I spent with her in Iowa and Idaho. She reminded me so much of my grandmother Schmid. You and Brandon can feel good about all you have done for grandma, Please know that I am thinking of you and wishing you the best.
Thanks so much Cousin Marge. Please stay in touch!
RIP Norma. What a journey you had together! Thank you for sharing the good and bad with us. I enjoyed every post and your great pictures of her meant a lot too. They really added to your stories. What a wonderful woman she was. I’m sure she’s in a good place. I know you must be feeling both saddened and relieved. When is the funeral?
Thanks for the words, Paula. I don’t think I’m going to have a formal funeral here…I’m saving any services for Utah where the rest of her extended family lives. I may have a party at the house next weekend…more of a celebration of life than anything.
My deepest condolences Rob. It’s a beautiful thing you did and I’m so glad Grandma went the way she wanted to.
“You can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf”. Jon Kabat-Zinn
I am so glad you did this blog, It was wonderful to read and I think it helped you most importantly. As I said before you and she are an incredible and beautiful story, I know where you were, are and will be from personal experience and I am still in awe, I am glad she was able die with dignity and on her terms for which you are responsible, what an amazing gift. You, your grandmother and your family are in my thoughts and prayers..
Thank you, Rob, for sharing your and Norma’s journey.
My thoughts are with you.
I’ve so enjoyed reading your posts, and have marveled at the strength of character, the empathy, and the love that you have in your heart. There are so many elderly people who would be grateful for even a small part of the devotion and care from their loved ones that you showed her. You allowed her grace, dignity, and the opportunity to pass on her own terms, even when it was so difficult for you. My deepest sympathies on your loss, and I know that the sacrifice you have made for her these last two years will be rewarded by the universe ten fold. You are deserving of all the best that life can give.
Thanks so much Angela!
I’ve been so moved by your account of caring for your grandma. She seemed like an amazing woman, and the way you’ve cared for her these past two and a half years has been beautiful and humbling to behold; I know your mother would have been so proud of you. I hope you’ll give yourself the same patient loving care you showed Norma as you transition into the next phase of life without her. Peace to you and thanks so much for sharing this with all of us.
Thanks so much, Gina!
My thoughts and prayer are with you and Brandon, thank you for sharing this journey with your Grandma the last few years. What a blessing you were to her, thank you for everything you did for her and for all of us by sharing your days with her. We are all truely blessed by this. Hugs to you.
Thank you so much, Cinde!
May we all have at least a little of what your Grandma had – love, support, kindness, and a peaceful end to the journey.
Best wishes to you and your brother, and the rest of your family, as your journey continues. May your celebration of your Grandma continue on.
Thank you for sharing her with us, in such a loving way.
Thank you, Frances!
My thoughts are with you at this time of sorrow. You are truly a very special soul. You made her last few years of life so very special. When I was younger I worked as a nursing assistant in a long term care facility, seeing the residents pass on to the next world with no family by their side. You are an inspiration.
Thinking of you,
Thank you Amy!
Love to you and Brandon. Norma was a lucky woman indeed to have you both as her grandsons. And it sounds like the luck went both ways. Take care of yourselves!
Thanks so much, Alyssa!
Rob, I’ve checked my email frequently waiting for word on your Grandma. What a wonderful life she lived, producing and raising, in the process, a caring, creative and unique family!
Norma stayed true to herself, utterly cool and fascinating, and became everyone’s “Grandma”. I like to think of her being reunited with your mom and both of them so proud of you guys.
My deepest prayers, heartfelt condolences, and wishes for peace and happiness in your hearts, as you lay your Grandma to rest and, with pride and joy, celebrate her great life!
Goodbye, Grandma! Happy journey! We will miss you!
Thanks so much for the kind words!
From what you’ve posted about her over the years, it’s easy to see that she was quite an impressive woman. No surprise that her grandson is so utterly cool. I know you’ll miss her, but I can see that you will always celebrate her, too.