May She Rest in Peace: My maternal grandmother (and last living grandparent) Marilyn Lohwater passed into eternal life January 31, 2013 early in the morning. Fortunately, Kevin and I had gone to visit her the night before. I’d held her hand, prayed for her, told her I loved her, and kissed her goodnight, thinking she’d at least make it to the weekend. Instead, she passed away peacefully that very night with my mom at her side and the Little Sisters of the Poor nearby lifting her up in prayer.
Miracles and Cause for Celebration My grandmother led a remarkable life for many reasons, not the least of which, she had very strong will to live, a deep faith in God, a devout Catholic prayer life, a special devotion to the Blessed Mother, and she lived through a number of serious illnesses and complications during her 89 years on this planet. Here are just some of the miracles and causes for celebration.
Choose Life: My grandmother was a strong pro-life advocate in all senses of the word. For years, she took care of sick and elderly family members and joyfully welcomed each new baby and grandbaby.
She also was very proactive about her own health. She ate nutritious foods, took vitamins, exercised (even when it meant taking an hour long walk around her neighborhood using two canes), kept up an active social life, engaged in some fun hobbies, developed an attitude of gratitude, prayed fervently, enjoyed a good laugh, and never gave up.
When doctors told her that she wouldn’t live less than a year, she was determined to do whatever she could to get better and keep on going. When her oncologist basically told us it was pointless to keep treating her, we fired him and promptly got a physician who would respect the fact that she was still coherent and was not going to give up hope that she would recover.
She would join us at the 40 Days for Life vigils when she was still able to leave the nursing home without too much trouble, but once that became too difficult she’d pray in the Chapel or in her room for the international campaign.
Very Thrifty Since my grandmother lived through the Great Depression and World Wars I and II, she had a special knack for being frugal, reusing, and recycling things. I can remember her re-wetting a paper towel and laying it out to dry. She would reuse aluminum foil. She laughed at expiration dates: those on food and those doctors gave her. She saved little scraps of paper to use for lists, bridge scorecards, or phone numbers. She would pick up things off of her carpet and put them in the trash for the exercise value and to keep from having to vacuum as often once she was getting up there in age.
-5-Her True Colors Grandma loved the color turquoise. She was also a fan of deep brown and dark orange. For a number of years, the one house we returned to no matter where we moved because of my dad’s job was my grandma and grandpa’s split-level in upstate New York. We were always excited to pull into the driveway of the dark brown house with orange trim.
-6-Well-Read My grandmother was one of the first women in our family to go to college at a time when that wasn’t something most women did. She was an active member of the Rochester chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). She absolutely loved to read books, magazines, newspapers, letters…which I’m sure greatly influenced my mom as well as me. Another thing my grandmother and I had in common was our rather atrocious handwriting. I’m not sure exactly what chicken scratch looks like, but one of us probably comes close.
Hope in the Lord Of all of the gifts my grandmother has given us over the years, her faith and hope in the Lord is the one I value the most. She clung to God throughout her life, and though she had a number of life-altering challenges to face, losses to mourn, and illnesses to overcome, she stayed strong in Him.
Lord, thank You for the gift of my grandmother. Help those of us whose lives were touched by hers honor her legacy by drawing ever-closer to You. Amen.