I remember my first experience with watching someone die. My sister and I were little. My great grandma, Isabelle Morris, was passing on. I remember seeing her laying on a bed, unresponsive, and I didn’t quite understand what has happening. My dad took Sabrina and I to my aunt’s house to stay while he and my mom went back to the hospital. That was the first time I realized that people die and that you never see them again. It was a weird concept to wrap my little mind around.

On Tuesday, I got a call from my mom at 4:50 a.m. telling me that my grandmother was likely going to pass soon. I live right beside them so it didn’t take me long to get over to their house. As an adult, that was the first time I had watched someone die. While I now understand death and what happens, it’s still a very hard concept to wrap my mind around.

My maternal grandmother doubled as Sabrina and I’s daily baby sitter growing up. While my mom and dad were at work, she and my grandfather watched us. I grew up in Hoaglin Township, and my grandmother lived in town on Franklin Street. It was such a sweet change to be able to play in town after school with the other kids on the block – something you just don’t get in the country.

Eventually, when we were able to baby sit ourselves, my grandma and grandpa moved out to the country beside us. Growing up, my dad would tell us to go play outside, but our young minds would easily get bored living in the middle of nowhere. Grandma’s house was a great place to sneak over to when we wanted to watch TV or eat snacks.

In 2006, at the age of 70 my grandma wanted to get her GED. She had dropped out of high school as a girl to help her mother take care of her brothers. She always felt like she missed out on something by never graduating. I remember going to her house after school and helping her with fractions. She was a humble lady and didn’t mind that a 12 year old was helping her to learn. I enjoyed teaching her and watching her achieve such a feat at 70 years old.

Eventually, as she got older and my grandpa passed on, she moved in with my mom who could provide her the care she needed. I moved into my grandma’s old home. I know I lucked out being so close to my grandma. I lived just over a small hill which made it very easy to see her a lot.

I spent a lot of breakfasts with her, enjoying coffee, and asking her about her day. One thing I am very grateful for is all the chances I got to ask her about her life growing up. My grandpa was in WWII and he died in 2008; I was too young to appreciate the history he was full of, and I often regret not asking him more about the war and his life as a young man. I didn’t make that mistake with my grandma. I asked her everything.

I asked about the civil rights movement, the aftermath of the Great Depression, James Dean (who we both shared a loved for), the women’s rights movement, various presidents, what she did for fun as a kid, and anything that came to mind. Though she couldn’t always answer my questions, I usually got something rich from talking with her.

She loved looking out her window at the birds that sat in a nearby bush. I remember one day I asked her if she ever gets bored. She said not really. So, I asked her what she did all day, and she said, “Watched the birds.” I then asked her what she planned to do tomorrow, and she shrugged and said, “Watch the birds.” That memory always makes me smile. She really loved looking at those birds.

I remember another day when I let Caesar out, and he was swimming in the pond chasing ducks. She turned to me and said, “That’s a weird looking duck!” It made me laugh so hard. She always had way of doing that.

I’m really going to miss walking over and asking her how her day is, what she plans to do with the day, about her life as a girl and listening to her say something totally off topic to whatever I was saying. I’m going to miss sitting out on the porch with her in the summer and how she always said that what ever she was eating at the moment was “the best thing” she ever ate. I’m going to miss her.

I have more memories with her than I have space to write on this page. I’m grateful I took the time to get to know her. I know how much she appreciated me asking about her life growing up. I’m happy that I can say that I have no regrets about the time I spent with her. Too often many of us have too many regrets when a person dies. It’s important to take the time today and tell someone that you love how much they mean to you. You never know when you’ll never see them again.

Watching someone die is weird, but I’m so grateful in the past few days that she was totally at peace with finally being able to move on. On Sunday, she grabbed me with all her weight, threw her arms around me, and told me how much she loved me. That was the last time we talked. I’m glad that she was able to die peacefully in her bed surrounded by people that loved her. She was, indeed, very loved.