Sunday, July 10, 2011

June 10, 2011

On June 10, 2011 I went to visit an old woman. I walked in and saw a frail woman lying in an hospital bed. I saw a woman who was dying. This was not the woman I went to see.

The woman I went to see was a woman of strungth, a woman of faith, a woman who raised six children and was the glue that kept her family together. The woman I went to see was a champion back-scratcher who always said the right words to those in need. Not that those words were always what one wanted to hear, but that those words were the most constructive and appropriate words that one needed to hear.

The woman I went to see wasn't thin and dying, but a woman who was full of life, vivacious and unwavering. She was a woman who was full of life, full of love and made those around her better because of it. The woman I went to see was surrounded by family in the best of times, as well as when times weren't so good. The woman I saw was surrounded by family and hospice workers.

One of the best things I've ever heard about this woman was the following: She was very easy to love. That was the woman I went to see. A matriarch of her family, proud, strong and firm in her beliefs. A woman who welcomed me into her family with open arms. A woman so full of love that it was never a doubt. Her name was Margaret K. Hirst, but I knew her as Grandma Hirst.

On June 11, 2011 she finally let go the ties to her life on earth. Even as she left this life, she had gotten one thing that she loved so dearly; Her family had come together, under one roof.

I remember as a child going to Saturday barbecues, Sunday dinners, Holiday meals. I remember the chaos of having so many grandchildren around, the red punch made with ginger-ale and a frozen mix of some kind floating in the punch bowl. I remember back stratches and hugs. I remember trips to the Chesapeake bay, to a cabin that smelled of old times and boiling crab. I remember how our family dog, Shiloh, used to lay at her feet as if saying "I am your protector." I'd like to think that somewhere on that other side, he's laying at her feet now, not having to protect her-simply enjoying her company.

The woman I went to see on June 10, 2011 was not the woman I saw. No, I think that the woman I saw on June 10, 2011 was more than I could expect to see. Laying in her bed she wasn't just Grandma Hirst, she was the matriarch, the mother, the grandmother, the great-grandmother, the friend, the shepherd, and the guardian to her family. I won't forget Margaret K. Hirst, my grandmother. I don't think that anyone whose life she touched will either. The old woman I went to see was not the old woman that I saw, not at all.

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