January 7, 2011

she just said "thank you"

this short winter break has been quite a time of loss. a few days ago we received the call that my dad's mom is about to go to be with the LORD and my wonderful grandfather, and today we went to see her for the very last time. she has affectionately always been known as "c.c." as the term "grandmother" was too complicated for our toddler selves to say, and a few years ago i got the great privilege of helping to take care of her for an entire summer. saying goodbye today brought on so many emotions, but it also inspired the following words that i'd like to share with you tonight. this is...

she just said "thank you"

we drove to atlanta
to say goodbye
because the nurses said
it was almost that time.

we crept in her room
and sat by her bed,
seeing bruises from her many falls
all over her face and head.

and the nurse helped her walk
so that she wouldn’t fall.
and she just said, “thank you,”
that was all.

she sat in a chair,
the oxygen tubes in her nose.
she looked thinner than ever
in her over-sized clothes.

91 years of wrinkles
were telling stories on her face,
my once sophisticated grandmother,
now moving at a listless pace.

and i helped her drink
some coke through a straw,
and she just said, “thank you,”
that was all.

she was once an english teacher
at a university,
knowing a thousand more words
than either you or me.

but every sign showed
the dementia had run its course,
and the memories had faded rapidly
with a never-ending force.

and today there were only 2 words
that she could recall,
and she just said, “thank you,”
that was all.

i sang her favorite hymns
as she held my hand,
drifting in and out
of here and another land.

but her smile said she knew
the face before her eyes,
and she squeezed my hand
to say she recognized.

but my name she could no longer
remember to call,
and she just said, “thank you,”
that was all.

i kissed her forehead
as we were about to go,
and i said, “c.c., it’s charissa,”
and she said, “i know.”

but i knew in a short time
she would be free from her pain,
and that when we met in heaven
she would remember my name.

and she said, “i love you,”
as we walked toward the hall,
and i just said, “i love you, too,”
and that was all.


  1. What a touching post that brings a torrent of memories flooding into my mind. I had a very similar experience with my grandmother back in 2009, I just wasn't able to be there with her the last few days. I was at church camp where she wanted me to be, reaching kids that she new I'd love. She said please go and I did.

    Even though I'm in tears as I type, this is just beautiful, Charissa. I'm praying for you and your family and know that even though we don't know each other well, I'm here anytime.

  2. Charissa- I have read this and cried. You put into words all that I have been feeling and thinking since we saw CC last week. I know she will feel better and be home soon, but it is hard to see her so different than before. Thank you for writing this. :) Nicola

  3. This brought back a flood of memories from when my Big Mama passed away October 2009. She also suffered from dementia and I also spent our last time together singing to her and telling her how much I loved her. Much love and prayers for you and your family Charissa!

  4. So beautifully written and tearfully read. But you did a wonderful task of trying to actually place words onto your thoughts and emotions, and that's not always easy.
    I'm praying for your CC's peaceful transition, knowing in faith that all will be well. Love to your and your family :) Cayron
    Ephesians 8:38,39

  5. I am so sorry, Charissa for you and your family. Your grandmother came to our house for supper one evening with your parents a few years ago. The dementia had started, but you could definitely tell what kind of lady she had been. She was so polite and so immensely thankful for everything. I thoroughly enjoyed spending the evening with her and know she was such a lucky mother and grandmother to have had all of you caring for her.

    Best wishes and love,

    Judy :)

  6. you all are so amazing! thank you for your constant love and encouragement whether i'm grieving or rejoicing. and more than that, thank you for sharing your stories and your losses with me. i believe our stories are meant to be shared with each other, and that losses and struggles are what make us remember that we're not alone. i'm thankful for the divine privilege of getting peeks into your lives and hearts. i love you all!