My grandmother has been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for the last several years of her life, and her passing last week has honestly been long-expected. Nonetheless, it was with a great deal of sorrow that her family gathered together to release her into the Lord’s hands over the weekend. She is survived by five children, thirteen grandchildren, and too many great-grandchildren to count (including one more on the way we discovered this weekend, congratulations, Catina!) Nearly everyone on my mother’s side of the family gathered to say goodbye to a woman I called Gramma. I’ll carry in my heart many years of coming to see my grandparents, Faye and Bud Gibbs, in Cedar Rapids for Thanksgiving and summer visits. I consider it a blessing that Vivian and I were able to come and see grandma one more time just a week or two before her passing.
The weekend itself was also a real blessing from the Lord, since we were all able to arrive before any serious winter storms hit the Midwest. Mom, Dad, and Jonathan flew in on Friday to pick up their estranged Chrysler from Nathan and travel across Iowa. Vivian and I joined them the day after, arriving in time to catch up with family at the Visiting at Cedar Memorial before going to dinner at Valley View Baptist Church. My cousin-in-law Arlan cooked up some sloppy joes for everyone made with (surprise!) venison he’d hunted down himself. My cousin Barb also brought a bunch of cookies she’d received at a cookie exchange, and I was able to work off the sugar high by giving “airplane” rides to a number of little second cousins running around.
On the day of the funeral, most of us gathered at the Spring House restaurant for a big meal together, having some greasy breakfast and diner-type food before heading on to the church. The service was very lovely, and I was elected to capture video of the ceremony from a convenient perch in the balcony. I’m hoping to put together a DVD with video from the funeral and other activities over the weekend for anybody who wants one. A brief ice storm passed over Iowa toward the end of the day, sending most of us out to our cars to chisel them free after gathering for a few group photos. The cold snap temporarily froze the latch shut on my car door, and it kept most of us indoors for the night. We were fortunately able to get home safely.
It was a difficult, mournful weekend for those of us gathered together in Iowa over the weekend. It gives me comfort, though, to know that my grandmother been released from her sickness at last and is now in the arms of the Lord. We’ll miss you Gramma, and hold you dear in our hearts on this side of Heaven. We’ll all be reunited once again someday.