Death is not the worst thing

Today was kind of a strange day for me. Instead of spending it hanging out with my fellow MTC 4th year buddies I spent it with my sisters, trying to work out what contribution we wanted to make to our grandmother’s funeral on Tuesday. We were very close to my grandparents on mum’s side, and the 4 of us were their only grandchildren. When Grandad died I felt like I had tonnes of memories I wanted to share with people – so many good times to look back on. The memories were so fresh then. But not so with Grandma.

I feel like I’ve actually had two grandmothers in one. The first – the one I love so much, is the Grandma whose house we spent every school holidays at because mum & dad both worked. The Grandma whose house my older sister and I were quarantined to when we had the chicken pox. The Grandma who, along with my Grandad, turned up at our house 6 weeks into their 6 months camper van trip around the country, because they missed us too much. Instead they packed up me and my sisters (I was 10, my sisters 13, 7 & 5) and took us on a 4 week trip to Cairns. Probably the greatest holiday of my life and only 1 of many they took us on over the years.

The other Grandma only appeared 6 years ago. The Alzheimer’s started long before that, but 6 years ago Grandma became an old woman who didn’t know who I was anymore. By the time she died there wasn’t a single person in this world that she recognised.

I’ve heard it said that death is not the worst thing that can happen to a person. For Grandma this is certainly true. She was a woman who loved Jesus and served him with her whole life. Death was the best thing for her.

On Thursday she had surgery to pin a broken femur, and on Tuesday she died from post operative multi-system organ failure. Alzheimer’s may not have killed her, but it took her life from her years ago. It was back then I grieved the loss of my wonderful grandmother. For that reason I don’t feel sad that she died. We lost her 6 years ago and we have grieved for all those years. I do feel sad that the last 6 years are the freshest memories right now. I hope they fade and I start to remember the 24 amazing years before that. But I also don’t want to forget the last 6 years completely, because they remind me of this truth

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed – in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” [1 Corinthians 15:51-54]

When I think about that I feel indescribable joy – because God is good and faithful to his promise. Death is defeated and my Grandma lives! She is raised imperishable with a body and mind that work. Praise Jesus that she is home with him. I look forward to joining them one day.

My Grandma’s 9 lives

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I swear I have the most resilient Grandmother who ever lived.

She is well into her 80’s and quite unwell these days.

When she was 55 she had triple by-pass surgery. About 10 years after that it became evident that her memory loss was more than old age. Alzheimer’s. Now is lives in the dementia ward at a nursing home in Penrith. She is a wanderer and this is a safe place for her to be. Her last nursing home was not as safe. I remember getting a phone call from Mum one day when I was at work saying that Grandma was missing. She had wandered right out the front door and to who knows where. It was hours before she found, bruised and looking very worse for wear, 8kms away from the nursing home.

In the last 10 years, as well as Alzheimer’s she has had falls, illness, been missing, lost her husband of 50 years, and each and every time we think its all going to over she bounces back with incredible strength. And the last week has been no exception.

She has been in hospital with pneumonia and a staph infection. And yet a mere 4 days after going into hospital, she is back out and home at the nursing home. She isn’t walking particularly well, but after 4 days in bed its possible that her brain has forgotten how. On the other hand, based on past experience she’ll be fine again in a few days.

If I was to be completely honest with you I would tell you that I often wonder if the resilience of her body is a good thing or not. Her mind is failing her. She has only 4 grandchildren – me and my 3 sisters. We used to spend every school holidays with her and my grandfather. They were a massive part of our lives. And now she doesn’t know who we are. She floats in and out of recognising my mum (her daughter) and spends most days surrounded by nurses and other patients she doesn’t remember from day to day.

My grandparents served God their whole lives. I don’t know if she is aware of who Jesus is anymore – but I trust that he still keeps her and that when she dies she will go home – to be with her saviour with a mind that won’t fail her anymore.

And so I wonder if its a good thing….. and if its ok for me to wonder…