Maybe tonight, my Grandma Africa will see Jesus. She really is not my grandmother, but I claim her. She is Brendan's grandma by blood. Marilyn's mother. However, she is my grandma, cause I love her like my own grandma and I know she loves me that much too. She is Hunter and Taylor's great-grandma as well as others....she has several grandkids and great-grands....and she even has 2 great-great grandkids!
Bernice Ziemann or Wanda B. Ellis Ziemann will be 96 or 97 this August. I can't remember right at this moment. Over a year ago, she fell and broke her hip and had to go to the nursing home. She has been there ever since. Up until then, she was living with Lowell and Marilyn at Indian Hammock and we enjoyed her company on visits into town, or family stuff. Several years ago, Grandpa went to see Jesus and then a few years later, Grandma came to live in Florida.
When she went to stay at the Nursing home, I went to see her each morning and I would take her coffee. I would stop there on my way into school. I believe I became a regular. I would stop at the 7-11 and get her the HOUSE blend. I tried a few other flavors but the HOUSE blend became her favorite. Some mornings, she was just too tired to wake up, but other days, she would enjoy that coffee. I would stop on the way home too, and maybe feed her or help feed her and steal some chocolate or bring her a cheeseburger from McDonald's. Some days she was not in pain...others were harder. Slowly, she healed but we knew she would never really walk again.
I remember one visit when I followed her into physical therapy and she was being quite a stinker. She did not want to participate and yet, she wanted to walk again. We all knew, she was getting a little harder to take care of and being in the loving care of the people there was best.
She never wanted to watch TV. She always wanted to go home, and she loved to have visitors. She also loved orange slices, licorice, and chocolate. She would get her hair done each Friday and loved to sing at the church service in the dining hall each Sunday. She also kept her quick wit for most of the time. One time during an Easter thing last year, she was suppose to put this Easter Bonnet on her head that was made for her. She looked at me and said, "I am NOT wearing that ugly thing, make it disappear".
Last March, April, and May were very hard months for me personally and seeing her each day, being able to visit with her, even if it was only for 10 min, was a delight and a treat. I would read her psalms and tell her about my day. I don't think she ever fully understood that my heart was breaking, but being able to just share my day with her and then read to her, would lift me up EACH time. There were many nights, when I curled up next to her in her bed and just laid there....not wanting to go home, not wanting to face my own struggles. She would laugh at me and call me silly, but she would tell me she loved me and that is all I needed.
This may seem strange, but at the time....I was mourning the loss of, well, I was mourning the possible loss of my marriage...and with it ...I was deceived to believe that I would loose my grandma..her, and my family.....too....the 'n' laws. Now, that did not happen and I know now and realize that probably would NOT of really happened, but when a family is broken, there are changes that do occur. Sometimes it just can't be helped. There is usually a 'new kind of normal'. If that makes sense........anyway, I would sit by Grandma's bed and look in her eyes and tell myself, "you are my grandma and I won't let anyone tell me otherwise". Most of the time she was sound asleep -- but those little moments with her and God...well, it just sustained me.
God used her.
Little by little, the visits would get farther apart as summer came, we moved, and then I started a new job. My drive to work was no longer in the path of the nursing home. By the time I would be able to see her, she was asleep.
Since Christmas, visits were harder, she began to forget more, and she was not 'herself' as often. She sleeps more, eats less, and our lives just got busy again. Visits were here and there. We celebrated her birthday....then everyone came for Christmas and we got to celebrate that. She was so tickled. Visits were harder, as you want to remember her as she was.
Like, when Bren and I were in college. We, Brendan and I, ate at her house every Thursday night. She always made tenderloin and we became spoiled! I was always in my Kohl's uniform as I went straight to work from supper and then Brendan did laundry. It became a weekly habit for several years. Then we moved to Florida, and each summer and winter her home, with Grandpa, became our headquarters. We had the entire basement to live in for a week or two as we visited and ran all around Wisconsin.
Right before Grandpa went to heaven, she had broken her back and he was having some surgery and Brendan and I happened to be there in the middle of it. I was taking Grandpa to his doctor appointments before his surgery and trying to get Grandma to the doctor as well. I will never forget as we were in one of the many doctor's offices and the nurse said, and "who is this lady?"....And Grandpa said, "she is our grand-daughter".....and he never explained it was by marriage or I was the wife of their grandson. I loved that moment....it was so sweet.
I can't tell you how many times I have relieved that memory over and over in my mind in the past 10 years....it meant a lot.
In college, Grandma and Grandpa had LOTS of advice for the two of us....and Grandma was always worried about something. You see, Marilyn and Lowell were in Florida while Brendan and I were still in college and therefore, she worried. I remember being told, 'now don't say anything to grandma about that - she will just worry'. Worry. Worry -- or pray. That woman was a prayer warrior. She loved her bible and little by little stories would be shared about Africa and their ministry.
Those are all memories, I treasure.
It blessed me so. I prayed tonight that...tonight she would see her husband again, and the HOST of angels and saints that are there in heaven because of the work God did through her obedience. I prayed that she would just peacefully slip away. She has been asking God to take her home for several months now...maybe tonight it will happen. Even if it is not tonight....I know it will be in HIS timing.
HIS timing is perfect. She has led a wonderful life. She made a difference...her light has shined so bright for so long. I can't wait for her to be present with HIM.....
Lord, thank you for my grandma. Thank you for our coffee chats, and for the times I could crawl up into her bed and just be close to her. Thank you for giving me such a sweet grandma to love and cherish for the past....um....30 years....it seems so hard to believe it has been that long. Lord, give me a dream tonight -- or a vision into heaven...let me see her dancing with you and Grandpa....if it is YOUR will.
Thank you Lord for letting me say good bye to her yesterday.
Thank you Lord for Grandma Africa.