Thursday, March 06, 2008

A Tribute to Izola Bartholomew

My husband's grandmother died Tuesday morning. We went as a family to see her on Sunday right after Church. We expected to have the kids sing her songs, assure her of our love, and then go home as usual. Instead, we walked in and found her lying on her bed with an oxygen mask on, struggling for breath. My immediate thought was, "She's dying." The kids were very sad to see her that way. She wasn't coherent, but we told her how much we loved her, talked to the nurse about how she was doing (not good, she hadn't eaten all day), and very sadly left the nursing home. My husband's father, her only child, spent much of Sunday and Monday with her, and her niece and almost-daughter spent more time with her Monday night. Tuesday morning, around 3 a.m., she left this life for a better one. I'm so glad she didn't linger longer.

Izola was a strong woman who was blessed with a long and relatively healthy life. She turned 95 last year, and up until 14 months ago, she was able to live on her own with very little help. A fall made it necessary for her to move to assisted living. Since her only child was out of the country until last July, it fell to DH and his siblings to find and help her settle into a new place. We moved her to assisted living in our town and I became very close to her, taking her to her doctor's appointments, seeing to her needs, and visiting her every night.

At first I visited because the adjustment was so hard for her, then I continued to visit because I loved her and I was part of her security. She loved it when I brought Eliza along, just 2 months old when she moved here. She adored Eliza and they had a special connection. We soon settled into a routine. I would visit with her, trying to come up with interesting things to tell her about the kids or something going on in the world. I'd bring her sections of the newspaper, which she'd devour. I'd ask her about her day and her life and her history. I learned the names of her brothers and sisters and some of her cousins, checked her phone for messages, helped her call her sisters and sister-in-law, then helped her dress for bed and settled her in for the night. I really enjoyed my time with her and was grateful that I could serve her in this way. I felt blessed with extra energy and strength, and honestly, it felt so good to be able to serve her in this way. She protested a bit in the beginning, saying she knew I needed to be with my family and not looking after an old lady, but I told her I wasn't doing anything she wouldn't have done for her own mother. She'd given and given all her life to others; perhaps this was her season to be given to.

Last July, just a few hours before DH's parents were due to get on a plane and return home, and within 12 hours of my father-in-law being released as mission president for my Church, she fell, breaking her hip in the process. DH's parents rushed home and she underwent surgery to replace her hip. The last 8 months of her life have been spent first in rehabilitation and then in a nursing home. Despite the challenge and shock of the surgery, she has recovered fairly well and had a good quality of life. We were grateful DH's parents could be here to help her through her and spend time with her before she passed on.

Thank you for a life well lived, Grandma Bartholomew. I will be singing "Be Still My Soul" at her funeral on Saturday.

Lillian is named after this wonderful woman, and we're grateful they had a chance to know each other. The picture above was taken by Grandma's niece just one week before Grandma fell.

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