The last time I saw my grandma was a couple of weekends ago.
Mom, Dad, Luke and I went down to see her because we knew her time was near.
The Alzheimer’s had really set in at this point in her life. Grandma had
reverted back to a time in her mind when life was simple. She reminded me of
a child who needed nothing more from life than love and laughter.
When we walked in she smiled at us. She knew we were family.
She gave us all a kiss. And she laughed. She shook her head side-to-side and
laughed. She laughed at Dad’s “clodhoppers”, as she called
them. She laughed at Mom and Dad trying to get the swing to recline. She laughed
at the squirrels for being squirrels. She just laughed.
At one point in our visit, when we were in the courtyard, Mom
brought Grandma over to pick a beautiful, purple lilac from its bush. It was
just the start of spring and very few other flowers had started to blossom.
We teased Mom about possibly getting us kicked out of the nursing home for picking
the only flower they had growing. Mom laughed, but Grandma just stared at this
simple little flower. The lilac seemed as precious to Grandma as love itself.
She held onto that lilac for the rest of our time with her. She smiled at Mom,
at us, and kept smelling that single, purple lilac.
I believe that lilac took Grandma back to simple moments in
her life that were very special to her….her younger years with her husband
and her family on the farm…her holiday celebrations where she could hear
laughter spread throughout the house…and the irreplaceable times she spent
with all who were near and dear to her heart.
After a moment, Grandma asked me to smell that purple lilac.
I looked at her, smiled, lifted the lilac to my nose, and I smelled it. I smelled
the simplicity of life. I needed that unforgettable moment with grandma. I needed
to remember how wonderful life can be.
My grandma Holthaus was a strong, hard working lady, who gave
so much of herself to others. She was a very special person whose love and laughter
will be remembered by many, year after year.
Grandma, I will think of you every time I pick a purple lilac.