We improvised with a tissue box. I ravaged the room and found a half-used tissue box. I borrowed a pair of scissors and made a quick incision in the side of the box slightly smaller than my smart phone. And quickly inserted it into the hole.
I remember it like it was last night. I flew into Detroit Metro Airport. And waited patiently as my mom and I drove through the slush and fresh snow that lined the streets. The drive to the Hospice facility where my Grandma laid having the best care felt surreal. Even though I was unsure of what to expect, I remember preparing myself for what was to come.
Two words that resonate to me to this day are strength and rejoice. I realize it might be difficult to include a word like rejoice in a time like this. But, nonetheless, I knew I had to be strong for myself, Grandma and those close to me.
Grandma lived an amazing life. She was an unlikely person used in a series of unlikely events and mission throughout her life. She lived through times of greatest of challenge, but more, she lived in times of greatest triumph. She stood up for movements in her city on the school board and lived through challenges in our family and upbringing. There is not a day that passes that I fail to think of how her strength has affected my life and the lives in her path.
I arrived to the Hospice at 12:28 am. The parking lot was filled with snow and the lights were dim and quickly defining what was to come. As I walked through the front doors, I knew I would look back on this moment for the rest of my life. Not for the sake of others but for the legacy that lives on in me.
As the elevator doors opened, I quickly met family I hadn’t seen in a while. Emotions were dormant yet full of life waiting to let loose at any given moment. The air was thick and heavy yet calm at the same time. It was a moment that could only be felt by being there.
I remember seeing my grandmother laying there helpless yet having the people she loved most by her side. It was a beautiful picture to watch as her entire life flashed before my eyes. It was bittersweet yet felt warming to know [confidently] that her life would live on forever. I miss her everyday. And I knew how I reacted in that moment would define how I look at her life for the rest of my life.
As a few of us listened to some of Grandma’s favorite songs, we sang to her. I can only imagine her as she waved her arms and hands and hummed to her favorite songs in her head. We took the make-shift speaker constructed from a half-used tissue box and filled the room with our voices. It gives me chills even to this day. It is one of the greatest and lasting memories of my Grandma during her last days in this place.
On this day of Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for a tissue box. I’m thankful for a smart phone filled with music. I’m thankful for an attitude of gratefulness and the ability to take a dim and dark moment and allow joy to surface and fill those close to me with a few minutes of joy and comfort as we lost my Grandma just hours later.
Even in the midst of chaos, tragedy and the unknown, there is always room for joy. And I activated it using an old Kleenex tissue box and a few unlikely people in a unlikely situation. I believe we sent Grandma off with a grand entourage and not to mention a chuckle by the display of our broken voices. This is true strength and even more what I am thankful for on this day of Thanksgiving.
Today this is her birthday – 87! I would bet a hundred thousand dollars that she would say, “I’m so thankful to have you as my grandson.” But, Grandma… I’m the one that is thankful. Thank you to all that YOU have instilled into my life and my future that has not even been written. You’re the true rockstar. Happy Birthday Granny!