January 19, 2005

A Holy Honor Indeed

My grandmother, Betty Walworth Lemen, passed away last Wednesday in Rancho Mirage, California. She'd been in the hospital for a full month, originally with pneumonia, her health rallying and then failing, making no promises about what the next day would hold.

My brave Aunt Mary Kay, grandma's only daughter stayed by her side every possible minute, working her teaching job during the day and staying at the hospital through the night. My Uncle Gary, Mary Kay's husband and thankfully a pharmacist, stood guard for endless hours too, carefully checking doses -- at least one of which was wrong. My Uncle Bruce, grandma's son, also juggled his day job along with night shifts at the hospital. And Mary Kay's dear friend, Rose, spent days with grandma, keeping her company and singing for her.

You'll never meet anyone more capable, self-sacrificing, and unwilling to impose on you than Mary Kay, but she finally took my mom up on her offer to come from Minnesota and help at the hospital. I'm so proud of mom for the quiet, cheerful way that she cared for her mother-in-law, doing menial tasks to help grandma feel just a little more comfortable and to give the others a chance to rest.

On Monday, mom reported to us that grandma was thanking everyone and basically saying her goodbyes. I jumped on a plane the next morning and arrived at the hospital about 30 hours before grandma passed on.

Our good friend, Grace, used the term "holy honor" for being present when someone dies. It was unspeakably sad to witness grandpa, Mary Kay, and Bruce, tortured by seeing grandma suffer and then grieving their loss when she was gone. As painful as it was, I'm thankful beyond words to have been there. I witnessed a 90 year-old man tearfully giving his last kisses to his bride of 63 years. A holy honor indeed.

Posted January 19, 2005 9:47 PM

i'm so very sorry dave about grandma lemen. i'm so glad you were there for that holy honor. i know you really blessed your family in that way i have seen you do so many times before in my own family.

much love and sadness with you...


Posted by: pache at January 21, 2005 8:02 AM

Thank you for this beautiful remembrance of our mother and grandmother. I too was blessed during this difficult experience. From across our country came family and friends to support us in ways I could not have imagined. Mom gave of herself in every aspect of her life. She loved me unconditionally. David, Thank you for being there for us. I will never forget your contributions to my my mom's final hours. May you venture forward with God's blessings.

Posted by: Bruce Lemen at January 21, 2005 5:36 PM

love you, babe.

Posted by: jen lemen at January 25, 2005 1:28 PM