*In honor of Thanksgiving, my students are responding to the prompt below this week. Because I want to share strong mentor text with my kiddos, I began writing the blog below early this morning. By the time I got to the final paragraph, tears were streaming down my cheeks. Writing is such a personal experience. When we are brave enough to share our stories with the world, we heal; we grow; we change.
The small living room buzzed with emotion as my family and I flipped through old photo albums. “Look at this one!” I cried holding up a black and white picture of Grandmother Horn on her wedding day. As we gathered in Eufala’s tiny home in Chillicothe, TX, waiting for her to die, I felt a deep sense of gratitude she would leave this earth surrounded by her loved ones.
My relatives and I chatted about memories from our childhood, and Nora slipped into the back bedroom to check on Grandmother Horn’s oxygen. The hospice nurses came and went throughout the day while we spent the afternoon sharing stories about Grandmother Horn’s life. Nora described how she had to pick cotton as a child, and my Uncle Jimmy told us about the time his family got their first television set. The world changed dramatically during my great-grandmother’s lifetime.
To my surprise, a steady stream of visitors stopped by to visit and express their condolences. We’d hear a knock on the door, and someone would be standing on the porch holding a casserole dish or a salad bowl. The whole town loved my Grandmother Horn, and they wanted to say their final goodbyes. As folks came and went, I worked on my computer putting together a memorial video for the funeral service. I scanned old photos and searched for the perfect music. I wanted the montage to capture the beauty of her life.
The next thing I knew, Nora emerged from Grandmother Horn’s room with tears streaming down her cheeks. Her mother was gone. I rushed to wrap my arms around Nora’s neck, and an overwhelming sense of grief hit me. I wasn't crying because she had died. I was crying because Nora was now an orphan. She no longer had a mother, and I worried our family would never come back to this little house in Chillicothe again. Although I was hurting, it brought me comfort knowing Grandmother Horn was no longer suffering.
The next few hours were a blur as my family and I grieved the loss of an amazing lady. I thought about how lucky we were to have her with us for 94 years. I was thankful for the chance to say goodbye, and I cannot wait to see her again in Heaven.