Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Into the Light

26 Mar 1995: Helen Carter celebrated her 68th birthday with two of her favorite people:
Jacob (age 3) and Sarah (age 5)

Last night someone very special passed from this life and into the next.  My ex-husband's grandmother, Helen Carter, passed away just 11 days before her 84th birthday. 

2 June 1989: Helen (age 62) and my grandmother, Alta Haley (age 83), were with Mark and me on our wedding day.

It's almost impossible to imagine that she is no longer here with us.  Helen was a huge part of our lives from the earliest beginnings of our family.  

When Mark's mother left their family when Mark was just 4 months old, Helen stepped in and raised him.  No one ever loved her children and grandchildren more fiercely than Helen Carter did. 

Helen fell in love with her first great grandchild, Sarah (6 weeks old here, on 8 Dec 1989)

My children never knew a world without their Great Grandma Carter.  As far as they were concerned, the sun rose and set on Great Grandma.  She absolutely felt the same way.  They knew she would gladly die for them if necessary. 

Helen fell in love again when Jacob came into the world.
This picture was taken on 25 June 1992, the day before Jacob's first birthday.

Helen's joy tripled when Dylan was born  when she was 70, in 1997.

Helen was very much a hands-on grandma.  She loved when the kids came to visit and spent nearly every moment with them, playing dolls, drawing pictures, cuddling them on her lap, watching them play in her pool, taking walks, looking at old photographs, letting them comb her long gray hair, preparing their favorite foods, and pounding on her old organ while they sang off-key at the top of their lungs.
16 Apr 1993: Helen plays "horsey" with 3-year-old Sarah and 21-month-old Jacob.

She also opened her home to my extended family on a regular basis.  My parents, my siblings and their spouses, and my nieces and nephews knew Helen's home well, for we met there often to celebrate birthdays and holidays with a barbecue and pool party.  We always felt comfortable and welcome.  As my sister Karla says, Helen always treated our family as if we were part of her family.

15 Aug 1999- With Great Grandma at the hospital after her first stroke:
Sarah (age 9), Helen (age 72), Jacob (age 8), and Dylan (age 2).

Helen had her first stroke in 1999 at the age of 72.  She recovered quickly from the first one, but over the years more strokes gradually took from her the health and freedom she valued.  She began to wonder why the Lord didn't just call her home.  She was longing to rejoin the loved ones who had gone before her.

Thankfully, we were able to travel to Mesa on Saturday to spend some time saying good-bye to this special lady.  She was on morphine, her breathing labored as she slipped in and out of wakefulness, but she tried valiantly to open her eyes and focus on the family she was so soon to leave for awhile.  She seemed tiny and frail and very, very tired.

27 Oct 2001: Helen (age 74) with her firstborn son, Tim (Mark's dad),
at Sarah's 12th birthday party.

We feel Helen's absence deeply, but I am so glad for her!  I can just see her walking into the light and being embraced by her husband Lyle and her son Tim, who died in April 2009 at the age of 61.  I can imagine her happiness at being reunited with her parents, her two brothers, and her younger sister Kathryn.  She had outlived them all and missed them greatly.

I know Helen has found her hard-earned joy and freedom, surrounded by those she loves.  We'll miss you, Grandma, but we know the day will come when you'll be waiting to greet us on the other side of the veil.  After all, families are forever.  We will all be together again!

1 comment:

Grandma Honey said...

We were studying about Ruth yesterday in YWs and I thought of you and this post. I am impressed that you have such honor for Mark's grandmother even after the marriage ended.

It was fun seeing pictures of the kids through the years. What sweet memories.