Early this morning, my precious grandmother West passed away.  We knew the time was very near yesterday, and I am so glad I got the opportunity to kiss her before she left our existence.  I headed there straight after work to spend a few minutes with her.  She was pretty aware until the end, even if her body couldn’t respond.  She’s been mentally ready to leave us for a while, as her heart yearned to be with my grandfather and her sons who have passed away over the years.  She always felt like if she wasn’t able to help another person or offer something to them, then she wasn’t worth anything.  But hopefully she listened to us when we said that just getting to see her face and be in her presence was a tremendous gift.  Louise was a pillar of strength, hope and love for everyone in her very large family.  She gave birth to seven sons in her lifetime, and they went on to have about 23 grandchildren and even more great-grandchildren.  Her spirit and legacy will live on indefinitely.  We miss you very much Louise, but know you are somewhere right now experiencing more love than we could ever imagine.

Through my grandmother’s death experience, as well as my grandfather Ellis a few years back, I’ve become aware of the wonderful organization known as Hospice Care (or palliative care).  These people are really amazing – it is a free service/nonprofit organization that sends out staff trained in caring for the sick and dying.  This often allows people to pass away in the comfort of their own homes, just like my loved ones were able to.  There are different specialties too, some care for the elderly while others care for children.  I rarely say this word, but it’s been a tremendous blessing to have had that service available.  They are also trained to help with the emotions of the people coping with the loss of a loved one.  I just can’t say enough about these giving, caring souls.

As with any death, young or old, we are reminded that our time is short.  Louise lived a big life, full of hard times and good times.  She taught us to have values, love others, and keep a positive attitude.  I am so lucky to have had her in my life!  Love you, Louise.

Louise & Howard West, in the early 1930’s.

Grandma West on her 94th birthday, just a few months ago.