My Mamaw Had a Baby

She had been my grandmother all of my life. For as long as I could remember. Those days at the end of her life were different than the days of my childhood. I did not run to her and hug her. I did not climb into her lap and learn to draw simple renderings of birds. I did not ask for angel food cake and she did not offer me ice cream. My mother did not take me to see her, but I made time to drive myself to a nursing home in the north end of town.

I would find her speaking to her child. Sometimes in her bed that was one of four in a room and sometimes slouched in a wheelchair making the circuit around the facility. We might go to the cafeteria or we might wheel out into the courtyard, but we always spoke about things as if she had an inclination of what was happening. There were no indications that she did. One week she lost her glasses. The next she lost her teeth. One week, the most disturbing of all the weeks, she lost her baby.

My Mamaw Bonnie, loved everyone she met. Everyone except her baby loved her in return.. It was the kind of love that taught you how to love. The kind of love that once given, took on a life of its own. She made people better versions of themselves. She raised seven children, one of which was my mother that followed her footsteps not only in the way she lived, but into the same halls of that same nursing home. She touched the life of everyone… except that baby.

In truth, it was a baby doll. I am fairly certain we found it eventually in the care of another patient and returned it my grandmother. For all the love she had in her life before, and with all the confusion from dementia setting in, the last years of my mamaw’s life was spent loving that baby. Love. It seems simple and it may be, but every visit there, included that baby. This baby she would speak to without conversation in return. This baby that needed nothing but that garnished all of that love from a saintly woman.

I think of her and my mother at times in heaven. Visiting. Sharing. Speaking of things both of earth and God. My thought is that they are now completely in God, where they would feel most at home, because they were, and are, two of the godliest people I have known in my life. And just as I visited her in her sleeping or waking hours without her knowing, and her not recognizing I was there, I am certain they visit me in mine. Just as I checked on her well being, I am certain those two women still check on me, in this nursing home we call life.

My mamaw had a baby. In the end, that is to what her worldly possessions amounted. In the end, she owned nothing. Her life was not, and will not, be measured by what she had, but by what she meant to, and did for, others. This is success. I miss my grandmother and all those close to me that have passed, and quite frankly, death sucks. It is not really an end for those who die, but it is an end in the way the living can relate to them. That is the hard part.

May we realize that most of our pursuits are as silly as that baby, no matter what we might think of them. May we understand that others care for their pursuits as much as my mamaw cared for that baby. May we love and be loved before we lose the chance.

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