It’s 7:15 AM and the phone is ringing. Raelyn has been in bed with us for about 15 minutes, having woken up early on a Monday. Grand; just grand. Jenn scans the phone and tells me it’s my Mom as she hands me the handset. I groggily mouth “good morning” after hitting the Talk button.
Mom is on the other end, her voice shaky, apologizing for waking me. She lets me know that my great grandmother, Alice Leist, has just passed away, most likely from a stroke. I offer my sympathy and my Mom says that she had been suffering for some time and that her death is probably a good thing. I voice my agreement and tell my Mom I love her and that I’m thinking of her.
We briefly discuss funeral plans and whether or not we will attend. My extended family, grandparents mostly, live in Michigan and I’m here in Atlanta. Mom tells me that Gramma Strand says that me and my brothers shouldn’t feel obligated to come. I tell Mom to call me back when she know more about the details. She agrees and we say our goodbyes.
The one part of our conversation that sticks with me is a very heartfelt “Thank you” that my Mom shared with me. She was thanking me for visiting Michigan in the Fall to convene for a five generation picture. My great grandmother, grandmother, mother, myself and Raelyn were all photographed together. We used the photos as Christmas presents for Mom, Gramma Strand and Gramma Leist – all digitally printed and nicely framed. The photos were a hit and I really made a great connection with my Mom for having visited Michigan and getting the picture.
I can’t tell you how much I’m going to miss my Gramma Leist. She was always like an older version of my Gramma Strand: kind, funny, always baking, always so eager to listen to us talk about our interests. I used to love her little house by Garver Lake, with its metal rowboat and simple dock. We’d go over there and feast on butterscotch candy and whatever pie she had just baked and then visit my great uncle Wendell’s golf course.
I have some wonderful memories of that time and of my Gramma Leist. I’m going to miss her, but I know it’s for the best. I’m just glad I was able to see her one last time before she passed. She got to meet my wife and my daughter and we have that awesome photo to commemorate the amazing, albeit brief, time when they’re were five generations of us all in one place.
I love you, Gramma Leist. I’ll miss you.
UPDATE: My folks local paper, the Newnan Times-Herald, ran the five generation photo today. Apparently, my Mom had sent them the picture around New Year’s and they said it would be published within 2-3 weeks. It’s an act of Divine Intervention that it was published today.
UPDATE II: Here’s a link to her obituary notice.