A Tribute to ‘GG’
The matriarch of our family, my grandmother's birth name is Hazel after her beautiful hazel eyes. We now refer to her as 'GG'. GG is the abbreviation for 'great-grandma', which was first given to
(the 4th generation of my maternal lineage) to distinguish my grandmother from my mother. But GG has now become her official nickname of the family. :-) Jordan
For as long as I can remember, GG has been my rock, my cheerleader, my role model. I have so many fond memories of my life with her, so where do I begin? Is it the first song she taught me, "Away in the manger no crib for His head, the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head...”? Is it her impeccable style (the original Carrie Bradshaw)? Is it how she took good care of my grandfather up until he succumbed to cancer in 1981? OR is it the most vivid memory I still see today-Getting on her knees to say her nightly prayers?
Prior to my grandfather’s death in 1981, GG did everything with my grandfather. After his death I saw this 59 year old beautiful woman evolve, beginning a new chapter of her life and slowly gaining her independence by retiring from her job of 25 years, serving as president of several faith based organizations, joining a travel club, learning to drive, playing golf and even dating! For GG, life began at 59 and she lived the next 14 years of her life to the FULLEST!!! She was always there for all of the major highs and lows of my life ( college graduation, wedding, marriage, divorce, receiving the Right Hand of Fellowship at my church, the purchase of my first home,to name a few).
In 2004, after being diagnosed with dementia, GG came to live with me. GG living with me was an adjustment for us both. But I vowed to give her the same life she gave to me. I registered GG for membership at the local senior center and made sure she was impeccably dressed and participated in every activity from bowling to plays to shopping trips to weekly luncheons and teas. I arranged for the senior bus to pick GG up daily and transport her to the center. On Sunday's we had a routine where we went to church and then to breakfast and then I cooked dinner EVERY Sunday for us to enjoy. On my Monday's off we went shopping and had lots of "GG and me" time. But the time I treasured most was our weekly impromptu bible study. I would peep into GG's room to see if she was asleep only to find her reading her Bible. That prompted me to get my Bible and join her for reading and follow up discussion.
In September of 2008, GG moved to
to live with her daughter, my mother so I only get to see her 4-5 times per year. And with each passing year I see that time and space has caught up with my diva. GG’s physical health had always been great and she always looked 10 to 15 years younger than her actual age so much so that people always thought my mom and I were sisters and GG was our mother! Florida
Fast forward to July, 2011:
On July 25, my mom called to say that she had called an ambulance to take GG to the emergency room. The next telephone call from my mom was to inform me that the doctors wanted my mom to start looking for hospice care for GG. I immediately booked a one way ticket to
! When I arrived at the hospital, I saw a frail woman hooked up to all kinds of machines, with doctors and nurses coming in frequently to check vitals, administer medications and consult with my mom and me. I thought it would be my last visit with GG and I placed a pair of rosary beads around her neck, held her hands and prayed, told her I loved her and kissed her on the forehead as I had done nightly when she lived with me. The next morning my mom and I went to interview hospice centers before driving to the hospital. GG was in so much pain that my mom and I stayed until late into the night to comfort her where possible. Before we left the hospital, I held GG’s hands, prayed, told her I loved her and kissed her on the forehead and then GG opened her eyes and asked, “What time will I see you tomorrow?” I responded, “First thing in the morning!” Orlando
Before I went to bed that night, I asked God to take GG out of her pain, WHATEVER that meant. I could no longer see her suffer. The next morning when my mom and I arrived at the hospital, GG was unhooked from every machine and was sitting in the chair eating breakfast. The day after, the hospice recommendation was changed to ‘rehabilitation’ inpatient care for 3 weeks and then ongoing care as an outpatient. GG checked into a facility near the hospital and had 3 weeks of speech, physical and occupational therapy. Once I felt comfortable with GG’s progress, I returned to DC and told everyone of God’s healing power!!
On September 1, 2011 I received a picture message of GG getting a mani/pedi before going to church that evening to hear Marvin Sapp… Two days later GG and I were enjoying a seafood bake at a Labor Day cookout!
By Tracie Coleman
By Tracie Coleman