First let me start by saying that this will probably be a rambling mess, but I needed to get these words and thoughts out. Please bear with me...
I didn’t want to wake up this morning. I didn’t want to roll over to find “that message” on my phone, but I had to get moving. There was a message, from my mom, letting me know that they had gotten home safely from the 6 hour drive to and from Ukiah. They had driven down in the rain to sit with my grandma and to say their good-byes. “She knew we were there and we told her we loved her and that we would see her one day… the doctor says she could go anytime. I think she is waiting for everyone to go home and let her go in peace!”, the message read.
|Grandma and her family|
My grandma, Gisella Minahan, was the strongest woman I have ever known. She was born on July 19, 1923. When she was 4, she came to America with her family from Stegersbach, Austria. At the age of 17, she left home to join the Transcontinental Roller Derby Association out of Chicago, IL. Grandma then married my Grandpa Gordon and had four daughters and one amazing son, my dad. Soon, she would find herself a single-mom, raising her 5 children alone. She did what she had to do to provide for her family.
Grandma gave birth to another son, but alone and unmarried, she gave him up for adoption. She carried that pain with her until she was reunited with him almost 40 years later.
|Roller Derby Queen|
Love found her again in my Grandpa Bakker. They had a beautiful daughter together. Grandpa passed away not long after I was born, and Grandma found herself alone again.
Since then, Grandma lived alone, under the watchful, loving eye of my Aunt Anita. She had knee replacement surgeries, lost an eye to cancer (the boys thought her glass eye was totally cool), and her health slowly began to fail her.
|Grandma with my dad|
My Aunt Anita called last night. Most of the family was gathered around Grandma in her small room at the home. She wanted to put me on the speaker phone so I could talk to Grandma. “I love you very much,” were the only words I could get out, tears streaming down my face. I hoped that she had heard me and that she knew just how much she meant to me.
Another message came this morning while I was getting the boys ready for school. “Grandma went to be with the Lord at 1:30 this morning!”, is all it said. The message that I so selfishly didn’t want to receive. I didn’t want her to be gone. Even though I knew that she was no longer in pain or suffering. Even though I knew that she was with her Heavenly Father and all her loved ones who had gone before, I didn’t want to see those words. I wanted to be able to pick up the phone and hear her voice, “Hello, Julie. It’s Grandma.”.
But as my heart is aching, I can find comfort in the fact that I will see her again someday. I know that the same God that stood with his arms wide open to receive Grandma into Paradise this morning, is the same God that is there with wide, open arms to hold and comfort me. We all grieve in different ways, but by giving Him my grief, I’ll find peace.
|Grandma and "the five"|
|Grandma and Papa at our wedding|
|Grandma with Matthew|