Friday, December 31, 2010

how will YOU be remembered?

My Grandma {Virginia} Johnson lived 82 years and for that, I am so thankful...





She passed away on December 26th, 2010. She had been battling Alzheimer's for quite some time and was slowly getting worse by the year, and within this last year, she was getting worse by the month. We all hurt deeply watching her slip into a body and mind that wasn't her own. But yet, I still cherished the chance to be able to hug her and tell her that I loved her whenever I could...even if she didn't recognize my voice or my face. I was preparing myself for that day I would be forced to say goodbye.

Growing up, my grandparents' home was my second home...it was the place where all 34 of the Johnson clan would meet for holiday get togethers. A place where my siblings and I would go if we were sick and had to stay home, but my mom had to work. It was a place where almost every Sunday night we would go over to their house after church and have apple slices and popcorn. My grandma loved doing anything she could for her grandkids and there was never a moment where I didn't see that. She rarely sat down and was always doing something for someone.

Grandpa & Grandma with 10 out of their 12 grandkids

On Christmas Day 2010 my parents got a phone call that my grandma wouldn't have much longer to live and so for the rest of Christmas evening they went to be with my grandpa as he prepared to say goodbye to the love of his life...she held on just a little bit longer until 11:45 PM on December 26th. My grandpa and grandma had been married for 60+ years! For my grandpa, she was his world, his everything, and he couldn't imagine life without her...even with her slowly slipping away day by day. It was heartbreaking to watch him try so hard to let her go. She didn't know who this man was that came to feed her for every meal, but yet he still never missed a meal if he could help it. This man loved and adored his wife so much that he never failed to tell her that. He would still hold her hand and call her his bride when he went to visit her. All she could do was stare blankly across the room, but I have no doubt that she still heard those words even if she wasn't able to express her love back.


My mom shared with me, that on Christmas night when they went to be with her during what they thought were her final hours, my grandpa leaned over and whispered in her ear that he was finally OK with letting her go and that he would be fine. Part of me believes that she held on for so long just for her to hear those words...that he would be OK with her leaving him here. To me, that's how she showed him that she loved him. She wanted him to be OK without her.

My grandma was an amazing woman. She was selfless in every way imaginable, tender-hearted, caring, full of adventure (she had to be for all the fishing trips and motor home rides she traveled with my grandpa!), always thought of others and wanted to give to others as much as she could. Her smile and laughter is a memory that will never fade. With the passing of my grandma, I have been asking myself A LOT...how do I want to be remembered? So many special moments and memories have been shared about my grandma and the kind of person she was. She has such an amazing legacy that I am so proud to be her granddaughter...I want to leave the kind of legacy she left. I want to be remembered like that.


I am so thankful I was blessed with 32 years of my life having this wonderful person to call my grandma. She was there when both of my children were born. Her smile would light up when I brought my kids close to her face and would say, "Grandma, these are your great-grandchildren". She loved kids, and in the last years of her life, she often would only smile when there were kids coming to greet her.

I am forever grateful for these pictures...

Grandpa & Grandma with Mikayla
4-22-06

Grandma with Mikayla
10-31-06
Grandpa & Grandma with Austin
9-28-07
Grandma with Austin
2-4-08

Grandma & Grandpa with Mikayla & Austin
1-28-08
Although my heart hurts that I no longer will get to see her here on Earth, I know without a doubt that she is laughing and dancing with Jesus, looking down on all of her family here on Earth smiling and as happy as she could ever be because she no longer has to live in a broken body. She has a new life!

This place was no longer her home...it was time for her to let go.

10 comments:

Patrice said...

Thank you for sharing your grandma! I read word for word with a swelling heart and tears in my eyes...I'm so sorry for your loss. I think your grandma is in a better place as you say, smiling and laughing and happy again.

My beautiful grandma turned 87 yesterday and she has been the biggest and best influence in my life. I am a little fretful as I know there aren't many years left - which sounds morbid, but I hope you know what I mean.

Take good care x

Tara@JustDevineStyle said...

Heidi,
I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I had to go look at some other blogs before I commented I was crying too hard. My Grandmother was such a wonderful caring and patient woman. When she passed I posed the same question to myself. "how will I be remembered?" If I can live up to even half of her Godliness I will be doing okay. Thank you for sharing and I pray your family will find peace in the love of the Lord.
Tara

wagnfun@msn.com said...

I randomly came across your blog & am now crying with love & loss. My 86 yr old gma was recently moved into a home b/c of dementia. Grandpa at 89 can no longer care for her. He spends every minute he can with her- it sounds like your grandparents. Our family often says the movie The Notebook is their life all the way down to him retelling her their story every day. They live & breath for each other.
I only hope my own marriage & legacy can inpact my children the way my grandparents live has mine.
Thank you for sharing your story..
Corby in So Cal.

Kim said...

Beautiful story! Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Heidi, I found a link to your blog on FB and was so touched as I read about your love for your grandma. I knew your grandparents from 2003 through 2008 while my family was at Northside, and they were very, very dear to me. I have so many happy memories of the two of them and always loved the stories that they shared, the way they reached out to me and my family and the love for the Lord and for others that just exuded out of both of them. But more than anything, I was touched by the way your grandpa loved his wife. It was so obvious and so beautiful that I will remember it all of my days.

When we had an art display at the church a few years ago that featured wedding pictures from our church family, Bob & Virginia Johnson's portrait was there and it was stunning, What a handsome couple -- and your grandmother was drop-dead gorgeous in her wedding gown. To me, your grandparents are a wonderful symbol of Christ and His Bride. Your family does have a tremendous legacy! God bless you and yours in these days of grieving and celebrating Virginia's life ~ Lucinda Brown

kbloems27 said...

So sorry for your loss! Thanks for sharing this wonderful story with us.

Kate
www.bloemersfamily.blogspot.com

Russell Family said...

What an amazing tribute to your Grandma, thanks for sharing! I have to admit it did make me cry...like you said she is with Jesus now dancing and watching over all of you! So sorry Heidi! Love ya friend. ;)

Rhonda said...

I'm so sorry for your loss Heidi. I too lost my grandma in 2010 (97 years old). She was my last grand parent.

What a wonderful tribute to her. She looks and sound like a wonderful grandma. Look at her smile. I can only imagine it shining even more now in heaven.

Hugs!

Missy said...

Heidi, I'm sorry to hear about the passing of your grandmother. I enjoyed reading what you said about her. It sounds like she was such a loving, selfless and caring person.
I know you must have wonderful memories of her.
I hope you and your family can have peace and comfort. Again, sorry for your loss.

Kelli said...

What a beautiful way to honor her. She sounds like a beautiful woman and that's so special that you had such a great relationship. I lost my beloved grandmother almost 3 years ago and while I miss her so much, her memories will remain with me forever and I will see her again.

 
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