Proving Des Moines is NOT boring

Grandma Pat

It’s tough for me to write a post about Des Moines this week as I wasn’t here. However, I did have one of the most profound experiences of my life on Saturday so I thought I’d write about it and share it with you. I was getting ready celebrate Easter with my husband’s family when my father called to let me know that my Grandma Pat, who had just turned 94, wasn’t doing well. Her heart rate was low and he said that I needed to come to Maine to see her. I assumed that she would be feeling better soon as my grandmother had never really been sick. Up until a year ago, she had been living on her own deep in the woods of Maine but recently she had moved into a condo.

A photo of my grandmother from our trip to London in September 2012

A photo of my grandmother from our trip to London in September 2012

In September we had traveled to London together for a wedding and we spoke regularly on the phone. The last time we spoke on the phone before I traveled to Maine, she said she was feeling a little tired and that she might have lost some of her pep.That was probably the most pessimistic thing that I’d ever heard her say. She was always cheerful and hopeful and ready to laugh. She made everyone around her feel welcomed and she regularly invited people into her home and into her life. She was a joy just to be in the same room with and she had a wonderful sense of humor.

On Saturday morning at 7am my sisters, my parents and I sat with her in her room at the hospital and held her hands and gave her kisses and told her stories. Her eyes were closed but she responded to what we were saying with smiles and nods. She looked uncomfortable and every breath seemed to be painful for her. The nurse gave her a few drops of morphine to relax her diaphragm and a few minutes later her breathing relaxed and slowed down. We all sat by her side and I held her hand and by 8:30am her breathing had stopped completely: she had passed away. I couldn’t believe that she has passed away right before my eyes. I feel so touched that she let me witness her last moments on earth.

I miss her so much already. She was always there–at every holiday and every major event in my life. She always sent cards and called at the right time: she cared so consistently. As I move forward I’ll try to be more like her if I can. I want to be there for my friends and family as much as possible. My move to Des Moines a month and a half ago was a new beginning for me.  My grandmother was so happy for me starting my new life here.  I will miss my phone calls and visits with her terribly. I learned a lot about living from her. She herself moved a few times in her life, and found ways to make each new town and city her own– exploring and working and making lots of friends.  She’s a part of me now and will always be– a part I will carry forward as I continue to explore and make friends and write about this wonderful new city.