A little over two weeks ago I received a phone call that my grandmother had been taken to the emergency room due to abdominal pain.
I wasn't too concerned as she has been making trips to the hospital for years only to be sent right back home again.
She often had an ice pack on her stomach and no one really knew what to make of it.
We had been told that quite often when seniors are bored or lonely that they make trips to the ER where they get the attention they crave, a hot meal, some conversation and are then sent home.
Wanting to be sure that everything was in fact OK with my gram, I called the ER and spoke with a woman who told me that Gram was laughing and joking around and that she was fine and was being examined by the doctor.
Feeling relieved, I gave her my name and number and asked for someone to call me if there were any problems or if she needed to stay.
She told me not to worry and that she would give my message to her nurse.
We never heard anything and assumed she went home like she always did.
A couple of days later we called her at home to see how she was feeling and left a message on her voice mail.
When she didn't return our call we figured she just didn't get around to it.
Wednesday evening however, I received a call stating that she had been in ICU since the previous week and that she had anywhere from days to hours to live.
To say that I was stunned would be an understatement; and with that, in flooded feelings of panic, anger and guilt.
Anger because no one had bothered to tell me that she was still there. Guilt because I should have just dropped everything and made the two hour drive to go check on her.
I left work early, grabbed two of my daughters and made my way down to lower Bucks County.
When I walked into her room, I was not prepared for what I saw.
My healthy, vibrant and silly grandmother was barely recognizable to me.
I could not believe how much weight she had lost since I last saw her a couple of months ago.
She was frail and weak and we had much trouble understanding her when she spoke whether due to her condition or the morphine she was given to ease her pain.
My Gram was visibly happy to see her great-granddaughters but we could also tell that she was suffering terribly.
My heart shattered into a million pieces when she asked us to "help" her and I didn't know what to do.
She asked us to pray for her and we all placed our hands on my hurting grandmother and asked the Lord for him to ease her pain, give her peace, and bring her home.
We talked to her for a while and when her painful groans became brutally painful for us to hear, we decided we would try, in some way, to take her mind off of her pain by singing to her.
She told us her favorite hymn was "In the Garden."
Every now and again, Gram would sing a word or two as they came to her.
We must have sounded horrible trying to sing that song through our heavy sobs but it was beautiful having her chime in every now and again.
We sang a little more to her until she fell asleep. It was such a relief that she was able to rest from her pain.
Sometime later, we decided it was time to make the trip home. I whispered in her ear that I would be back to see her in the morning. I hated the thought of leaving her alone.
When I arrived the next morning, Gram was still "sleeping" from the night before.
She had been unresponsive and her breathing was quite labored.
I knew that there was not much time left for her here and called my oldest daughter.
I watched my Gram's breathing become slower and slower and her blood pressure would become so low that it no longer registered on the monitor.
I leaned over and told her that Amanda was on her way.
Sure enough, her BP increased and her breathing was a little better.
This happened a couple more times and I was convinced that not only could she hear me, but that she was waiting for one last visit with her oldest great-granddaughter.
When Amanda arrived and began talking to Gram, her BP came up again briefly but sadly, after a short while, my grandmother went home.
The drive home was perhaps the longest two hours of my life.
When I arrived, I wanted nothing more than to crawl into my bed and to cry myself to sleep, but being a creature of habit I went through the mail that was on the table.
To my amazement, there was a Christmas card along with a goofy picture from my Gram.
I still can't figure out how she did it considering she was in the hospital for a week.
The picture was of her dressed in an old-time black and white striped prison costume and wearing huge goofy neon green sunglasses.
I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
What really caught my attention however was the front of the card which simply said, "Peace".
Finally, after years of pain and suffering, my gram was at peace and I can't help but wonder if somehow she knew especially since everyone from PA to VA received their cards and pictures the same day.
That would be so very much like her.
Peace to you Gram, until we see each other once again.