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Thank God for Grandmothers

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I’ve experienced the death of loved ones and good friends before. There’s nothing more heart wrenching than saying goodbye, but it’s also a blessing to be able to say those final words.

I remember when the ‘Dean of the Black Press’ Walter Jones, former editor of the Milwaukee Courier passed away. Walter had been sick for a long time, battling cancer. I visited with him the day before he died. During my very brief visit with him, he tried to speak, but no sound came out, he spoke to me with his eyes. It was difficult. Based on what I was feeling and experiencing I could only imagine what his family was going through. I cried for days thinking about my last moments with Walter and wishing he could get the words out he seemed so desperately wanted to say to me. 

And then I remember going to see the glamorous ‘First Lady of the Black Press’, Mattiebelle Woods. Mattiebelle was in a coma the day I went to see her. I just looked at her, speechless and wanting the words in my head to make it to my mouth. They never did. It was like I just didn’t know how. I reached for her hand and held it for a moment and walked away in a daze. It was just too much for me. Mattiebelle would hold on until her grandson arrived at the hospital before making her journey to glory. 

As I write this blog, I’m waiting for my paternal grandmother to make her transition to heaven. 

Last Wednesday, my dear grandma was air lifted from a nursing home in Batesville, MS to a hospital in Memphis, TN. On Thursday afternoon, I was so insanely busy. My deadlines had deadlines. I’d missed a call from my cousin Faith and my sister Gina. Just as I’m exhaling and going over the day’s activities with a colleague, I get another call from my sister Gina. I answer.  She tells me grandma is in the hospital in Memphis, she has a tumor on her brain. It’s bleeding and swelling, she’s unconscious and there’s nothing the doctors can do to help her. I’m breathless; I don’t even feel myself breathing. I feel the tears well up in my eyes and run down my face. In minutes I’ve gone from on top of the world day, meeting all of my deadlines, to grandma is dying.

Gina asks me if I’m okay. All I can say is, I will be. I hang up the phone and begin to weep at my desk and then my phone rings again it’s my husband, calling to ask if my sister reached me. “Are you okay,” he asks. Again, the only thing I can say is, I will be and I tell him that I’ll see him at home soon. 

Grandma and I had a special bond. Funny, I’ve had special bonds with both my grandmothers. Both are named Lucille. I was the first grandchild to each of them. 

My mother’s mom taught me the importance of social justice and serving those in need. She taught me about being a servant leader before the term was made popular.

My father’s mother, Grandma Cooper, was the first person to help me know what it meant to have a personal relationship with Christ. She stressed that I should always help others. As I grew up we became pen pals. Her letters always started with “My Dearest Faithe” and ended with Love Always, Grandma Cooper. Throughout her letters to me there were Bible verses; scriptures, parables and lessons. Grandma Cooper is one of the sweetest people I know.  

I’m in a fog. My thoughts take me to the moment when she had the last stroke that put her in the nursing home some 10 years ago. It took all of my strength to get on a plane to go see her. I remember walking into the nursing home and feeling like I was in a dream. I felt like a little girl going to see my best friend, who didn’t know I was coming. She was paralyzed from the waist down.  Staff lifted her in a crane if you will, from her wheel chair into her bed. It was all too much for me. Just 6 months before she was cooking breakfast for my daughter and me in her kitchen, now she’s in a nursing home paralyzed.

Friday morning I receive another call from my sister Gina saying grandma had another stroke while at the hospital. She was still unconscious and doctors were planning to place her in a hospice. They said there was nothing more they could do for her except to keep her comfortable as she makes her transition.

Since Wednesday, we get daily reports. They range from, “she had a good night” to “she’s not in pain” to “her breathing is slow and infrequent,” and “her blood pressure is normal 128/70, but she’s still unconscious.” Comforting one moment and nerve wracking the next.

I never gave any thought to waiting for someone to die, but that’s what I’m doing now.  I’m just waiting to get the call that she is gone. Over the years I worried that I would get a call and the voice on the other end would say, your grandma died last night during her sleep from old age. Despite that frame of thought, I was not prepared for this.

There’s nothing more we can do, but wait. The words from the hospice nurse are kind but not too comforting. She tells me to, “just call anytime you have questions.”

Really, the only words I want to hear are from my grandma telling me, “You're a trip,” one of her favorite sayings. I want to see the surprise on her face because I walk into her nursing home room, without as much as a call or a letter making an unannounced visit.

I feel at peace knowing that my uncle, her son, has made it to be at grandma’s side. My spirit is at peace knowing she’s on her way to glory and she’ll suffer no more.

I find peace too in being able to pray, thank you God for my grandma. For all the joy she gave me. I love you grandma. On my knees, I pray I love you grandma, I love you!!

I feel at peace knowing that my uncle, her son, has made it to be at grandma’s side. My spirit is at peace knowing she’s on her way to glory and she’ll suffer no more.

I find peace too in being able to pray, thank you God for my grandma.  For all the joy she gave me. I love you grandma.  On my knees, I pray I love you grandma, I love you!!

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Faithe Colas is an expert in public and community relations. She is a partner in Von Communications, a public relations firm and is co-publisher and marketing director of Brain Brawn & Body. You can contact Faithe at


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Guest Tuesday, 23 January 2018