My grandmother, Gladys Ferguson, passed away in her sleep early on the morning of December 22, 2019. It was her eighty-sixth birthday.
We knew she was nearing the end; she had left the hospital and entered home hospice care less than two days earlier. But none of us expected it to come quite so soon. We thought we had months, or at least weeks, not just a couple days. But, of course, it happens when it happens, and it’s never easy when it does.
Melissa and I saw her a few times in the weeks leading up to her death. While she was in the hospital, she told us that she really wanted to go home. She did not want to spend her birthday or Christmas in a hospital. And when we saw her on her first full day at home—which also turned out to be her last—she was very happy to be there. She loved her house on the lake, where she had lived for about thirty-five years.
Grandma was one of the most generous people I have ever known. When I was a poor college kid, she would never let me leave her house without accepting at least a twenty-dollar bill . . . whether I wanted to or not. Later, as she lost some of her mobility, she gave me a credit card that was linked to one of her accounts so it would be easier for me to pick up some groceries or perform some other errand for her. Inevitably, she would tell me to take Melissa out to a nice dinner afterwards. “Just put it on my card,” she always said.
She loved the theater and had season tickets in the front row of Box 3 at the Kennedy Center. In recent years, she bought four seats . . . two in the front row for herself and my mom, and two right behind them for Melissa and me. My role, more than anything else, was to play chauffeur and drive the group in and out of the city. Some of the shows weren’t exactly up my alley, but some were . . . and some of the ones I thought I wouldn’t like ended up surprising me. But even when the show wasn’t very good, I always enjoyed the experience and the company.
I sometimes joke that my grandmother loved my wife Melissa more than she loved me. I don’t think that’s really true, but she surely did love Melissa as if she was her own granddaughter. She was a constant supporter of Melissa’s business and art, and always loved to discuss where Melissa had traveled and what foods and restaurants she’d discovered.
Goodbye, Grandma. We will miss you.
In your hands, O Lord,
we humbly entrust Gladys Ferguson.
In this life you embraced her with your tender love;
deliver her now from every evil
and bid her eternal rest.
The old order has passed away:
welcome her into paradise,
where there will be no sorrow, no weeping or pain,
but fullness of peace and joy
with your Son and the Holy Spirit
forever and ever.