On letting go

Gam’s in the hospital. Trouble breathing. Pneumonia. Morphine.

Life is shutting down. Things are shutting down.

Bodies once stong are shouting I quit. I’m done. I’m ready.

 “I’m tired,” she said. “I’m ready to go Home.”

I notice my fingers tight around my phone and my teeth grinding.

You’re not ready.

I want to see you again. I want to take more pictures. I want to hold your face in my hands and tell you how amazingly full my life has been, and is, because you have filled it.

That I’ve been mad at you, laughed with you, bragged about you, smiled with you, been-OK-with-life because in the back of my head/heart I knew it wasn’t just me on those bad days, good days, just-days.

Selfishly, I want you to stay.

I want one more time, lots of times.

I want my friends to meet you.

I want to show you where I work, and where I make coffee and where I go outside and stand on the roof when I get stressed.

I want to show you where I run and hike and where the deer live.

I want you to meet my husband.

I’d love for you to meet my kids.

Some people have grandmas. I have a great friend.

Some of us have family. I have you.

Some people feel blessed. I know it deeply.

I’ve had plenty of times.

Sprinkles-on-my-oatmeal times.

OMG-did-you-really-just-say-that times.

Wait-would-you-please-say-that-on-video times.

I-need-you-to-pray-for-me times.

Knowing-I-never-had-to-ask times.

I’m-so-angry-at-you-I-don’t-want-to-talk-to-you times.

Please-don’t-stop-hugging-me times.

There’s only one her–and I got to spend 30 beautiful years knowing that of all the grandmas that have ever been, God gave me Gam. What a gift.

So, about letting go, Gam–

How blessed am I knowing that the reason it hurts to let you go is that you never let go of me?

Times…I hope we’ll have more. But for now, know that it’s OK, and that I know.

Go drink a cup of real coffee. One that doesn’t taste like battery acid, or burnt socks.

Go hug Pop, and eat pizza, and go dancing, and drink Beringer.

Karate chop something. See how many boards you can break.

Take Fluffer for a long walk on the beach.

Make a new kerchief for your hair.

Go crabbing.

Feed the seagulls.

Sing with the Angels. I think you’ll see you were right about the right way to worship Jesus.

Teach Jesus your favorite kata.

Ask Him all your questions.

Dance with Him. I bet he’s got a special pair of egg shakers just for you.

Challenge Him to a game of Scrabble. I’m not sure He will be up for your version, but you can try.

You are the best old soul.

The ‘best old soul of the whole wide world.’

And I am blessed, blessed, blessed to call you Gam.

Thank you Jesus for giving me a ninja for a grandma.


Ninja Trait #4: Diligence (Gam’s Magic Refrigerator)

If I could pick one thing to remember about my grandmother, among the many, it’d be that she was diligent–particularly in the prayer area.

That and the fact that she has a magic refrigerator.

Gam's Magic Refrigerator. I'm #3!

I can’t think of another person in my life who has been so diligent in bugging God for me and about me–even when I was too angry to talk to Him myself.

Big things, little things, in-between things. Things that you don’t think should be significant enough for anyone’s time–yet she’s waking up and laying down and breathing prayers for you. Sometimes in the middle of NCIS. Which is kind of a big deal, if you know Gam.

And, if its important enough, it goes on her refrigerator.

The refrigerator prayer list is reserved for important things. And where you rank is very telling.

Sometimes she’ll call me to say, “Jenny, I put you on my refrigerator. You’re number three right now.” (She wants me to feel honored by that. I always do.)

Big, important things–tho “important” might be a relative term. She won’t put my husband on there; I’ve asked. But she will put strange things one there. Bad weeks at work, fluke illnesses, blind dates.

There was my broken wrist. I took a spill at my friend 30th birthday party–an 80’s themed roller skating fiesta where I face-planted before even completing my first lap around. What was originally guestimated as “you’ll probably need surgery and have a cast for a couple months” (a little disconcerting for someone who types for a living) turned into a few fractures that could be managed with a velcro brace that could be removed to shower. Funny–I told Gam the one thing I was dreading the most was not being able to be fully clean.

An awful burn healed over without needing the skin graft that was talked about–and a bad infection caught before it sent me to the ER.

Losing my license (more on that later) diverted by the weirdest coincidence.

And then there’s my friends. I think she’s picked up on the fact that I feel loved when she loves my friends–so they get Refrigerator Priority. More than I do, actually.

I have a dear childhood friend that had a stroke at age 29. She went straight on the refrigerator to the very top of the list. I know for a fact that Gam prayed for her every day–all day.  She’s doing well now and is expecting her 2nd kiddo soon.

Another friend who experienced a few things no girl should ever have to even hear about–she went right up there, too. Immediately, with no questions asked.

And another–Frankenstein’s Grandaughter.

“What’s your little friend’s name, again?” Gam would ask. “Charlie? Chauncey?”

“It’s Kelsey.”

“Oh. Whatever. She’s on my refrigerator. In great big letters!”

Gam could never remember Kelsey. But she could remember that Kelsey’s great grandma was the lady who wrote Frankenstein. So I don’t know if God gives brownie points when he hears “Please Bless Frankenstein’s Grandaughter”–but that’s how Gam remembered her. And I do believe it worked.

Why wouldn’t it?


In her honor–perhaps even to catch some of the magic refrigerator magic–I’ve started my own Refrigerator List. I hope it works as well.

Let me know if you’d ever like to be on it.

#7 – Gotcha!

Friday morning, Gam was swaggerin’ something fierce. She almost bumped into the wall. As I ran to help her, she breathed big, lifted a clenched fist in the air and shouted, “Gotcha!”

“Gam . . . ,” I asked. “Are you OK? . . . who you talkin’ to?”

They told me it might get this way.

They didn’t tell me that Gam talks to God.

She told me that a few days after the diagnosis, she was sitting in her chair by the window, asking Jesus how in the world she was going to make it through this.

She told him she was scared. She told him she was confused. She told him she felt alone. She asked Him not to leave her.

And then, clear as day, the words: “Gotcha!”

She said she felt the Lord grabbing her hand, and it startled her. She’d never heard God talk out loud before. (And if you’ve seen Gam startle, she startles. Limbs flailing, eyes popping, hanging sideways to the chair for dear life.)

“Gotcha?!” She asked. “What did you say, Lord?”

She was so puzzled that she called her pastor–Pastor Mike.

He laughed. “Pat, we always expect the Lord to speak to us in old King James. But He was talking to you in your language.”

Now, when she swaggers, she’s not so afraid. She braces herself, throws a fist in the air and whispers, “Gotcha!” When she gets winded and confused, she shakes her head and breathes it, too.

It’s a good reminder for her.

It’s a good reminder for me.

Just because we feel alone doesn’t mean we are. Just because we’re frightened does not give us reason. And maybe our worst falls are worth the stumble only to feel the strength in His hand.

And to hear Him speak, after 84 years of listening close, in a language all our own.