Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Grandma's Arms

I never had the chance to know my Grandma Arlene. She passed away when my Dad was 19 years old. My Grandfather remarried my Grandma Lois before I was born. Grandma has given us grandkids a wonderful album of photos and written history of our family. Through the pages of this book, I have enjoyed learning about my Dad's life. Dad has always told me that I resembled his mother in some ways. Although I never knew her, I believe we have a lot in common. Grandma loved to care for babies. When my dad was growing up, his mother would often care for foster babies. The last baby that Grandma took under her wing was Kathy. Most of the babies only stayed for a few months, but due to an eye condition, Kathy was not a candidate for adoption. Grandma Arlene cared for Kathy for five years. It looked like Kathy would be a permanent part of the family until one tragic day. A new case worker was assigned to Kathy. One day, she showed up, unnanounced, and took Kathy from Grandma's arms. She was never seen again. My Dad remembers his mothers pain and saddness.
Less than one year later, my Grandma became very sick. A few weeks later, Grandma Arlene passed away. The Doctors believed she died of a blood disease, but others wondered if she died of a broken heart.

I used to remember this story and think "how awful! I can't imagine what it'd be like to have my child suddenly taken from me...without notice, without a chance to say goodbye, or 'prepare her for the road'." Although Kathy was alive, she became like dead to Grandma, being the only mother Kathy had ever known. Yesterday I realized that I fully understand Grandma's heart and I know what her arms felt like. I know what it feels like to have my child torn from my arms without warning. I am no stranger to watching my hopes and dreams shatter before my eyes. I believe Grandma probably stood there confused and helpless. I am sure that the days, weeks, and months to follow were filled with memories. Her home, like mine, was filled with Kathy's fingerprints, laughter, singing, and play. Everything was the way Kathy left it. Nothing was missing...except Kathy, except Ashley. As a mother...our days are spent fixing things...kissing the hurt away, nursing the sick back to health, feeding hungry tummies, resolving conflict, bathing dirty bodies, praying away the nightmares, comforting the broken hearts, fixing the boo-boos with bandaids, putting the tower that fell over back together...Each day as I stand in the empty shadow of my life trying to hold up the weight of my broken heart...I hurt so badly because I realize that there is nothing I can do to fix this hurt. As a friend of mine says "this is a wound that only Heaven can heal." It makes me feel trapped and helpless. I can imagine that Grandma felt very much like I do, even though Kathy was still alive somewhere. Although I never met my Grandma, I have a deep connection with her...There are days when I feel like I too could die from a broken heart.

For years I have dreamed of someday caring for foster babies like Grandma did. I hope that someday I will be able to do that. Thinking of Grandma Arlene in heaven makes me wonder if maybe she is mothering my Ashley for me until I get there. I hope she is....


  1. Oh, Wendy. My heart hurts for you as the tears well up in my eyes and I, too, know there is nothing we can do to stop this hurt. May Jesus grant you peace amidst this turmoil, as I know of nothing else in all the world that could help. I'm still lifting you up.

  2. Wendy only God can heal your broken heart and may not be till Eternity but for now He shares in your pain. He has come to give you life and light so Look Up to Him and He will give you springs of living water! When we are in the desert as you are it causes ones roots to go down deeper in search of life-giving moisture. Don't let heat from the desert make you bitter but reaching Higher toward God. Remember Ashley dancing for Jesus. My prayers are still with you.

  3. That is a beautiful picture of how your grandma was. What a legacy she has left. Very sad. My grandmother went through something very simslar and she never got over it. It was the reason that she adored me so much. She had 2 other grandkids that were my gae and were m y uncle's kids. His wife was a drug addict and he died at 24 from lukemia. The state took the kids from their mother and placed them with a family who wanted to adopt the...and they did. The adoptive family told my grandmother that the kids had been through enough and they wanted them to have a "new" life and have nothing to do with our family. In that moment they were gone and she was heart broken. They are now 39 and 41 and I have no idea what their new names were . i have thought many times about trying to hire someone to find them but it is too costly. My hope is that they are christians and we will meet in glory.
    God bless you wendy and thank you for sharing that beautiful story about your grandma. I think of you nearly everytime I look at my own girls and this woman...why her daughter. only God knows dear sister. He will make it all make sense and even tht will not really make your journey any easier...still praying