March 29, 2012

on my last day I want a party and a parade...

My grandmother was a a huge part of my life, I grew up at her knee and there isn't a week that passes that I don't think of her.I was also with her for her last days and hours on this earth; As old as she was {in her mid 90's } she was rather sharp for an old gal but as the end drew her moments of clarity became less and less frequent until the moment when God called her home. I hold on to those moments as special possibly because I didn't get those moments with my Dad who died in the hospital or my children who perished on the side of a highway in the middle of the night. They open up so many questions for me about life and death and faith...

Have you ever imagined what your last moments on this earth would be like? I imagine God willing I'd be old laying in bed surrounded by all the people who love me- who I love, or some such scenario. Maybe drifting off to a peaceful death in sleep....

When I last saw my grandmother just hours before she passed this is what she told me.  Let me just say this; I wish truly I could  do this story justice, that I could express more eloquently her words, to paint for you a picture of the glint in her eye and the delight in her voice as she told me what I'm going to tell you now. 

When I entered her room she was sitting in her hospital bed straight up, her eyes clear and not the least bit cloudy or confused as they had been. She looked me in the eye saying in a slow but steady voice, "what a lovely party last night"  then she raised her right hand and swept it from left to right across the room showing me what she believed to be party decorations from the previous night.

She looked so darn happy in fact I saw more emotion than I'd seen in a long long time on her face. "A party?"
I asked playing along not wanting to break her mood." Look at the decorations, aren't they beautiful?" she repeated.
" Daddy {my Popa} was here, and The Moores and The Lynches {both old family friends from Brooklyn and others to many to name} were here.
Contented with her memory of the night before she leaned  back in the bed and said,  "it was so much fun and there was music and dancing."

This gave me a few moments to think, my grandmother was telling me she attended a party the night before and every single person she mentioned that attended  was dead except her! My grandmother saw all those people in her bedroom in the house she lived in since 1960, in the same room my grandfather died in when I was six. Tears pricked the back of my eyes and I was overcome with emotion. At that moment I became overwhelmed with the feeling that my grandmother would not live much longer that that day would be her last day.

Then she calmly turns to me and said.
"Do you hear it?"
"Do you hear the parade?" "I so love a parade, don't you?" I nodded as I watched her as her face transform before my eyes and I saw joy.  She strained to here her parade drummers drumming and horns blowing and she smiled and tapped her hands to the beat of the music, her music.

I've seen my share of death. I cry, I mourn but I always always always try to celebrate the life of the person who died. No matter how painful I remember and then I celebrate their life. I remember.

Was there a parade? No
Did Popa and those old friends come to take her Home?
I'd love love love the thought that they may have.

She died three hours later.

I've heard accounts about a white light. On the day I die I'm thinking I want a party and a parade, just like Nana.



  1. What a beautiful story. I want a party and a parade too when my time comes. You were so lucky to be able to be with her that day. I think they did come to take her home, and you know your children and your father were met by loved ones to take them home too. Sending you big giant hugs.

  2. what a beautiful story and a beautiful death. As Catholics, we pray for a peaceful death when we pray The Hail Mary.

  3. I love this story so much. It's like a little gift from those awaiting us at the pearly gates! :)

  4. I am with you - I want the party and the parade! Thank you for sharing your Nana's story.

  5. I opt not to care what happens After, but I try to keep those I love close & loved now. It wasn't always that way, at different times for various reasons, but I am glad it is now.

    I loved reading about your grandmother. ~Mary

  6. Wow, I so agree I want a parade too. I too was very close to my grandmother spent a lot of weekends with her. Miss her much, miss my Mom unbelievable. Thank you for sharing and visiting.

  7. Jen, this is so sweet and I feel like I have an idea of what you saw that day and the joy with which she told you of her party and parade. That's a good way to go out, don't you think?

  8. It was something to see, really I just wasn't sure I could put into words how it was, she was so full of joy when they came!


I'm always interested in what you have to say...
Comments are appreciated!