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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Goodbye Mrs. Gruner

We are grieving today.
Our precious Mrs. Gruner died early this morning.
I just got back from Crestview, and her bed is empty. On it was laid her funeral clothes, and Mr. Gruner sat in the recliner.
We were surprised to find her very sick a week ago today, and this week, it seemed she deteriorated quickly.
This week has been hard.
We fell in love with the Gruners, as you may know by a previous post about them.
In this post we shared how we had a birthday party for her, and we were able to make her last birthday a special one, for us and for her.
To be honest, I really am surprised it was her last.
I was not prepared for this.
How silly does that sound, when we are doing Nursing Home ministry?
I knew all of our friends there would die, and it would be sad.
But I still was not prepared for how difficult the grieving would be.
There are many people at Crestview who have given up...are ready to die...they are openly waiting on death to relieve them.
But not Mrs. Gruner.
She was the most positive person I think I've ever met.
She was somehow, still enjoying life recently, with her sweet husband of 65+ years, even though she suffered MS and was bound to her bed.
She would smile as soon as she saw us, even to the end!
She welcomed the children on to her bed, and let them rumple her covers, and stand in their chairs, looking for the squirrels that would ravage their bird feeder. They named him Sammy the Squirrel.
She would tell me stories of what it was like to meet Mr. Gruner as a girl (at a football game) and fall in love. They married, and Mr. Gruner, like so many others, went off to face World War II. Mrs. Gruner, a young bride, awaited letters, with huge gaps of time in between, not knowing what would happen. I would love to read one of those letters.
She talked about how she had to go to work, and she rode her bicycle to work each day with her baby in the basket. She had to take him to a sitter so she could help provide during the war.
She was a young woman once who feared and loved God.
She chased her children around the yard, like me.
She wiped their noses and taught them their school work.
She loved her husband and served in her church.
She was beautiful. The black and white photo of her and her 5 sisters is stunning. She was the prettiest one of them all.
She suffered from MS, like her mother had.
Her husband never left her side. She needed full time care, so when they moved her into Crestview, Mr. Gruner rented a room in the retirement housing there and just lived in her room every waking moment.
He waited on her, loved her, nursed her, and hardly ever left her.
I visited them many times over this past school year...weekly...and he was only not there one time. He had a doctor's appt. We have visited morning, noon, and evening, and he was always there.
I said before and still say, I want Rusty and I to be them.
Last Saturday, I went and sat with her while Mr. Gruner took my kids into the courtyard to chase squirrels and climb trees for his entertainment.
I read from her old worn Bible, help together precariously with packing tape.
She asked me to read Psalm 23, the Lord is my Shepherd, and I did.
I read other passages to her about heaven.
I wiped her nose and brushed her hair.
It was my privelege to do anything to care for this wonderful woman.
I couldn't sleep last night, and stayed up crying thinking about her leaving Mr. Gruner behind.
I rejoice for Mrs. Gruner. She is with her Savior! What joy!
The kids and I have petitioned the Lord that one day, when we are reunited in heaven, we might be allowed to live next door to the Gruners. We want to share a yard with them, we decided.
I am learning a lot about myself in this.
I have not had to lose many people close to me.
I don't do well with people leaving or dying. I need the Lord to show me how to do this, because more death will come. This is inevitable. It's life.
I am learning that I have not given enough thought to the reality of ETERNITY and that this life is like a weekender. Our real life awaits us. A forever life, worshiping our God around his throne, forever!
I realized that I can't allow one more person in my life to die without knowing for certain what they believe about Jesus. How would I feel right now if I wasn't certain of Mrs. Gruner's salvation? What if I hadn't asked?
I want to be bolder with everyone in my life. The road to salvation is narrow, and the path to destruction is broad. I want to know that I've done all I can to bring people to the narrow path.
We are sad today.
Emma is crying too. She really loved Mrs. Gruner.
I am thankful, beyond words, for having the opportunity to know her.
She's changed me.
We started going to Crestview to bless the lonely, hurting old people.
I had no idea that I would be going to receive a blessing from such wonderful people as she.
Before I left there today, I talked to Mrs. Ramsey.
She can't stop telling me how lonesome she is. She said "every inch" of her hurts. She is so desperate for companionship. She told me she just needs a mother or a daugther. I told her I would adopt her. I would be there for her. She says she has no one. She has a son who visits once every two weeks or so. I've never seen him there. She feels utterly alone.
If anyone else is interested in doing this with us, let me know!
This week I realized how very hard it is, but pretty much everything God has specifically called me to has been hard. The Bible is real clear about this walk not being easy.
But the reward is eternal. What else can we give our time to and say that?
We love you Mrs. Gruner. Hope you're enjoying your welcome home party.


Amy Seay said...

I'm sorry. I said a prayer for Mr. Gruner. I know he'll miss her. I'll be thinking about you guys.

Jon & Sally said...

Such a sweet story.
I've found that aching and missing are treasured feelings...because they mean we've actually LOVED.
What power!
Thanks for loving on her Jenn...for enriching her life and her walk with our King. May He continue to give Mr. Gruner good gifts until he joins the party!
I love you Jenn!
P.s. Thanks too for the stuff about TV. GOOD, good!

Marcus and Meg Asby said...

I thought about Mr. Gruner a lot yesterday . . . I can't imagine how hard that must be; I'm glad your family is mourning with him. And praise Christ that Mrs. Gruner is experiencing ultimate joy.

liz said...

i'm so sorry to hear this.
i'm so glad you and your kids were able to be a friend to her while she was here..and continue to do so with Mr. Gruener.
what a special thing you guys are doing for them and for others.