She'd been in the hospital for several days for treatment for a GI issue in the hopes that they could correct it without surgery and she'd be able to return home. Unfortunately, the non-surgical route didn't improve her condition, and at age 97, she was unwilling to undergo surgery due mainly to the monumental odds against her during recovery.
Grandmother's surgeon told Dad that if my sister and I could get there by Monday, that should be time enough to visit with her and let her know we loved her before she reached a critical point. However, she and I both pretty much immediately started making plans to get there. Grayson and I talked about it, and I packed a bag and got in his car to drive to South Carolina. I arrived just before midnight Saturday night, and he planned to follow in the van with the kids later if needed.
My sister booked a flight from Wyoming for Sunday morning, arriving in South Carolina early Sunday evening. (My mom was flying in separately from North Carolina a couple of hours later.)
Dad got up Sunday morning at 6:00 and headed straight to the hospital. Since that was 5 a.m. my time, I did NOT get up and go with him at that hour. (If there were any doubt, he's the saint of the family. I've never worn that button.) I got up at 9:00 and arrived at the hospital at 10:15, and although Grandmother had an NG tube (nose > esophagus > stomach), she raised her head from her pillow when I came in and hugged her, and she made some welcoming sounds.
Without going into too much detail, the next several hours were a little tough. It's very difficult to see someone you love so much be virtually incapacitated, in obvious pain, and simultaneously lucid but unable to effectively communicate. I sat on her bed most of that time, holding her left hand, talking to her a little, encouraging her as Dad spoonfed her little bits of crushed ice.
He and I took a walk down to the first-floor cafeteria to grab a bite of lunch at some point, and when we got back to the room, Grandmother had just fallen asleep. It was good to hear her breathing easily, not struggling.
But between 12:30 and 2:00, she just gradually lost steam. Her blood pressure dropped, her respirations slowed, and just after 2:00, I went back and sat with her on the bed.
I picked up her left hand again. Dad picked up her right, and there we stayed for 10 minutes.
We were at her side, each holding one of her hands, as she met Jesus last Sunday, March 29.
She was one-of-a-kind, irreplaceable, one of the great loves of my life.