larry's grandmother olivia clara (henrichson) ewing died on thursday october 4th, 2007. we rushed off to college station on sunday because it was clear she didn't have much time left, and we wanted to be able to say goodbye. she was largely unresponsive most of the days we visited her, but tuesday was something else entirely. she was making eye contact and tracking us around the room, and seemed to have pulled away the layers of dementia to know exactly who each of us was. we would say "hi gran, it's kristy (or larry, etc)" and she would respond with a pronounced wink as if to say "i know, i see you there, and i love you." she even smiled at several people, including the little girls. gran always winked as another way to say "i love you", so it was quite fitting. it was so amazing to have that last good day with her, when her eyes were filled with clarity and knowing rather than being somewhat clouded by confusion.
on thursday, when it was clear she had only a few hours left, larry and john went to join their father at her side. she died shortly after, with her only child and two of her grandsons holding her and offering comfort. apparently it was an incredibly peaceful death, she just took one last breath then was gone. we all should be so lucky to die peacefully surrounded by those we love.
it's hard to know exactly how to talk to a 2 1/4 year old about death. on the one hand, i wanted to be open and offer a healthy perspective regarding death; yet i didn't want to overwhelm or frighten her unnecessarily. i explained to eva that gran was very very sick, so sick that her body couldn't work anymore, and that gran died. that means she's gone away and we can't talk to her anymore, but we can remember her. despite her usual barrage of questions, eva accepted this matter-of-factly. we sort of followed her lead regarding the viewing, and for a few moments she seemed curious upon seeing gran's body, but was essentially unfazed. she also was able to sit still throughout the funeral and did so with a minimum of outbursts (mostly of the slightly comic toddler variety, not the whiny screaming variety).
gran was an amazing woman, graduating high school at age 13 and going on to receive a master's degree, an unusual feat for the era. she also faced a great amount of hardship and loss, losing her mother when she was very young, losing a newborn daughter and a school-aged son, and losing her husband prematurely. she was a devoted teacher for decades, and loved her family above all else. while it is comforting to know that she is now at peace, she touched so many lives and will be dearly missed.