“At eighty-six my grandpa said there’s angels in the room
All the family gathered ’round knew the time was coming soon
With so much left to say I prayed Lord I ain’t finished
Just give us five more minutes
Time rolls by the clock don’t stop
I wish I had a few more drops
Of the good stuff, the good times
Oh but they just keep on flying
Right on by like it ain’t nothing
Wish I had me a pause button
Moments like those Lord knows I’d hit it
Yeah sometimes this old life will leave you wishing
That you had five more minutes”
I heard this song coming down 285 a couple of weeks ago. The kids were all quietly watching their movie and I was scrolling through the hot country playlist on Spotify. I hadn’t heard it before, and when this verse, the last one came up I cried. First softly, and then big ugly tears as I couldn’t help but have flashbacks of this very same scene.
Two years ago today is so etched in my memory that I can see and hear everything that happened.
My Mamaw was a special lady. She was multi faceted. She had different sides for different people, different moods, and while some would say that made here difficult I think it just made it easier for different people to love her. She had unique relationships with so many. She was fiercely loyal and loved in an over the top kind of way. She was set in her ways, but also very go with the flow when it came to her grandchildren. In that way especially she was extraordinary. I am 100% posisitive that the title she held dearest was “grandmother”. She was incredibly honored to have been made a great-grandmother as well.
My fondest summer memories come from her home, and my aunts. I had my first kiss on her living room couch. The same couch that hid the rolling pin she used for “exercising”. I grew up there, first sitting on Tupperware bowls to reach the table. Eating fiesta corn and fried okra. Then old enough to pick up fast food, arrange my very own children on that table, and eat at the bar with her. I would wake up in the mornings and watch Papaw make oatmeal or honeycomb cereal and watch her put on her face. Her Mary Kay supply was impressive. We would go to church, dressed to the nines, and I would love watching her sing gospel hymns, with her best friend Ms. Nell in the choir.
Like all humans, my sweet Mamaw’s bod failed her eventually. Her health became more than was repairable and in June two years ago a handful of us sat in a small room at Cobb Hospital while a doctor talked to us about possible outcomes.
A few days later we watched as medicine-driven devices were removed and she went to Tranquilty House at Cobb Hospital. I have fond memories of that too as strange as it sounds.
Gail, my uncles mother in law, bringing BBQ and love. Pouring out on us in our time of need.
I remember my Papaw, in so much pain, sitting on the porch of her room while my cousin Grace sang and danced for him to lift his spirits.
My mom and her baby brother laughing into the night over memories and the special teasing kind of relationship they have.
Pollyanna, always smiling, always lifting us up in prayer.
Friends, family, strangers all there. Praying for us, saying goodbye.
My husband came and held me close, taking over all responsibility at home so I could be there for however long it took.
The night of the 18th my mom, and Josh were asleep in the room with Mamaw. My sister, Jennifer, and I went into a small lobby/library area to try and rest. I woke up in the early hours of the morning and for some reason decided to get coffee. As I walked past Mamaw’s room I breathed a prayer for my mom, who was sleeping next to her. I will never forget it, “hold her Lord.” The next few moments are jumbled in my brain, but somehow my mom and her brother woke up, and I went and woke Jennifer. I can’t remember where Papaw, or Polly were but I am sure it was there. We got to be there when she took her very last breath.
The pain in that room could be felt. It was actually tangible. But it was also a sweet release. She was gone, and we missed her so, so much, but as a believing group of family we all knew exactly where she was. The minutes and days that followed were no less painful and gut-wrenching, but I just kept thinking about how she was pain-free, with her mother and brothers and sisters.
Something I think about a lot is how I never actually got to say goodbye. Though I was there at that hospital so many days before, she didn’t hear my voice tell her I love her. I know however that if anyone knew how much she was loved it was Mamaw. Her life was her kids and grandkids. She lived for each and every one of us. How amazing to know you have a very special place in someones heart.
I’m grateful for the time we got at the end with her, and the years I had with her before.
Writing is cathartic for me. It feels good to re-live it, think about it, and be thankful for her life. Losing someone isn’t easy but it’s human. The best way I can think to honor her is to talk about her, make sure people still say her name.
The kids, 5 & 3 still remember their Mamaw. My youngest carries a variation of her name, and there’s not a time that I say, “Lindley” that I don’t think of my sweet Mamaw, Linda Faye Simmons and everything she did for and with her family.