Monday, June 06, 2005a real, sad shame...
I was taking my customary Sunday afternoon nap with my son and my daughter when my wife woke me up:
"Your sister just called," she started, "she said your grandmother is dying."
It took me a few seconds to process what had just been said, but when I got it, the following course of action was clear. I got in my car, picked up my sister and drove the hour long ride to my hometown. Once there, my mother explained that the consequences of my grandmother's cigarette smoking had finally caught up to her: she has a collapsed lung, a dark spot on an X-ray of her "working" lung, as well as serious heart problems.
After being warned by my mother not to give my grandmother any details about the severity of her condition (you see, a conspiracy of silence has started, my family doesn't want to say the word "cancer" because that's how my grandfather, her late husband, died), I made my way to the hospital ICU with my sister.
My sister was the first to be allowed to see my grandmother. As I waited in the waiting room, I wondered if it was appropriate for me to have agreed to "the conspiracy", but quickly dismissed the question since I knew, in the end, my grandmother knows EXACTLY what is going on. You see, she's in the conspiracy too. Say no evil, see no evil, think no evil. I then started praying for an opportunity to bring the Gospel to my grandmother. She had heard the Gospel from my parents, and a saved uncle in my family... I even think I spoke to her about the Gospel years ago. Every time though, she would show little interest, choosing instead to cling to her detestable Romanist idols and pictures of the pope.
When my sister came out of the ICU, I made my way in. My sister was in tears, so I was preparing for a somber, sad conversation. To my surprise though, when I entered the room, my grandmother was sitting up, seemingly in good spirits. For about 20 minutes, I listened to her complain and gripe about everything under heaven: the incompetence of her doctors, the foolishness of some of her children, her ICU roommate...etc... etc. I was a bit surprised at just how bitter and angry my grandmother had become. So, not wanting our conversation to be a complete waste, I asked:
"Grandma, do you pray?"
She pretended not having heard what I said. So I repeated, more loudly;
"Grandma, did you ask God for help through this sickness?"
This time, she just smiled and said:
"Don't worry, Rand, I'm going to be just fine. I'll be home in no time, you'll see."
With that, she hugged me, I told her I would most likely see her again soon, and we said goodbye.
At this point, I had a lot of difficulty understanding why my sister was crying. When we stepped outside, my sister and I compared notes. She told me my grandmother was somber, sad, and fearing death. I couldn't explain how my sister and I could have come out of that room with such a completely different picture of my grandmother's emotional state. Then it dawned on me. I was still dressed in my church clothes. You get it? She probably feared I was going to preach to her, so she gave me the old "I'll be fine, don't you worry." By persuading me that she was going to make it out of this, she probably figured I wouldn't insist on the Gospel.
Well, she didn't persuade me of anything except the extent of her distaste for the Gospel. That being said, I will grant her wish to not be bothered with the Faith. The way I see it, if she, at any point, decides that she does want God, she knows who to ask. If it isn't going to happen, then I will give her as much love and care as I could possibly give. Though it will break my heart, I will hold her hand until we say our final, and terrible goodbye.
I covet your prayers in this most heartbreaking time,