So God Made a Teacher Collection (Sale!) ➔

The last time I saw my grandmother, she lay rigid, a thin sheet pulled to her chin, her gray hair swept away from her face, her ninety-three-year-old skin smooth like porcelain. She had been a beautiful woman once—movie star caliber. Now, she was a fraction of her former size—her body skeletal—withered, birdlike. She lay waiting, her mouth and eyes half open as if she was about to say something.

But we were too late.

Her life stopped in the middle of—a breath, a thought, or maybe it was a dream.

I suppose that’s the way it has to end, that something must remain unfinished even for those lucky enough to have lived a long time.

Hers wasn’t a violent death, but she looked a bit surprised as though she couldn’t believe her days were over.

And the living couldn’t believe it either.

You’ll have to bury her someday, my mom used to say. She’ll outlive me.

But the natural order of life held fast.

A call had come in the morning, saying that my grandmother was ailing—but this report had been received many times before. My mother told the nursing home she would stop by after work. It was hard to believe this day would be different.

But it was.

The nurse’s aide said my grandmother didn’t die alone, that she’d stayed with my grandmother in her final moments.

Mama, I’m sorry, my mother said through tears. I’m sorry I wasn’t here.

I studied my grandmother’s body. Her person remained, but her essence had left. And this gave me comfort.

She had found her way out.

The mumblings of the other residents echoed from the hallway. The nurse pulled the curtain. The air, heavy with the scent of medicine and urine, made this momentous event feel so ordinary. A small radio played on her bedside table. The husband of my grandmother’s roommate excused himself as he entered. He just needed to put his wife’s hat in her closet.

The living had to keep living, putting hats away, and finishing their Sunday visits.

My sister and I looked at each other. So this is how it ends. No trumpets blareNo crowds gather.

The nurse gave us bags to pack what remained of my grandmother’s stuff. She hadn’t taken anything with her to wherever she’d gone.

Or had she?

Perhaps she’d carried her memories. Her hopes. Her dreams.

And what had she left behind? Plastic mirrors. Polyester pants. And purple scarves. The few remnants of what had once been a full life. All of which we bundled in trash bags for Goodwill.


She left more.

Her paintings.

Her poetry.

Her students.

My grandmother was a complicated woman, but she tried to put her light in the world. Born in 1923, she was ahead of her time. She married young and gave birth to my mother at age nineteen. But unlike many women of her generation, she returned to college, earned her Master’s Degree, and sixty credits toward her PhD. She taught English for many years and toiled at her art in her basement studio. At age eighty-six, she self-published a book of poetry with photographs of her paintings.

At her memorial service, I read a poem from her book (I’ve pasted it below). Though she wrote it in 1958, it reads like the musings of a modern day mommy blogger. In her final years, her mind played tricks on her. I’m not sure she understood that I too had gone back to school and had received my Master’s Degree, that I’d written a novel, and that I’d started my blog.

It’s sad that a person’s mind can be stolen from her. Dementia is not a fair disease. It doesn’t play by any rules. It’s hard on the patient and harder on the family members.

I like to imagine that my grandmother has found my grandfather out there in the ether. They’ve hooked up with my paternal grandmother (they’d become good friends as they’d aged). Maybe they’re painting together. Or playing Gin Rummy. Perhaps they’re enjoying a cold coca cola. The football game is on the TV. And my grandfather is relishing in a Philadelphia Eagles’ victory.

But who really knows what happens?

We can all hope for is a little more of this beautiful life.


To do things over when a mistake has been made. To say I love you. To paint, to draw, to dance, to run. To write. To live in the present. To finish as much as we can. To shine light where it’s dark.

My grandmother has gone.

Oh, but she left something else.


She left us, too.

    A Composite In Blue

In Memoriam

Evelyn Chubb


My Teenage Daughter

My teenage daughter thinks I’m such fun,

That is, until some work must be done,

Then grimacing wildly, she calls me unfair,

“You give me too many burdens to bear.”


How slowly the vacuum moves on its way,

In her struggle to still hear the radio play,

Above the din, she makes a mad dash,

Is there by the phone, quick as a flash.

How long she may talk, fades completely from mind,

A half-hour later she’s still deeply entwined,

We finally rule her to “ten-minute” talks,

Rebelling her plight, out the back door she walks.


Returning transformed, I can tell by her smile,

That the boy down the street made her walk so worthwhile;

The greatest grievance she gives me by far,

Is the time I’m kept waiting while chauffeuring her car,

I drop her off her and pick her up there

As she blithely departs with nary a care.


Still, in counting the joys she brings me each day,

Then tells me she loves me in her sweet, special way,

I think of her faults, how meager they seem,

For in facing the facts, my daughter’s a Dream.


With a glance in the mirror to survey this gray hair,

It reminds me what fun we had putting it there.


Heather Christie

Heather Christie is a wife, mother, writer, real estate broker, amateur cook, exercise freak, and avid reader. When she's not selling houses, she's writing books and blogging at She recently completed her MFA and her first novel What The Valley Knows. Her work has appeared on Scary Mommy, Elephant Journal, Mamapedia, The Good Men Project, Grown & Flown,, Bon Bon Break, the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop, Sammichs and Psych Meds, and The Lighter Side of Real Estate. Follow Heather’s Sunday Morning Blog and say hello on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Not Having My Mom Here Never Stops Hurting

In: Grief
Sad woman

Each phase of life since my mom died has brought different struggles, triumphs, and varieties of emotion. I always knew that grief was lifelong and complicated, however, I definitely underestimated the ways in which it changes as time goes on. I remember the beginning years as survival mode. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through each day until that day had passed and I was on to the next one. It was figuring out who I was and what my life was going to become during this awful new normal. Some days were harder than others and...

Keep Reading

Grief Comes in Waves as Our Mother Nears the End of Her Life

In: Grief, Grown Children
Elderly woman holding young woman's hand

“I think we can all agree that this is not fair.” My sister, Kari, was referring to our elderly mother as she addressed my oldest daughter, Chelsea, and me. Chelsea was holding both of her grandmother’s hands with her own as my mother slept fitfully. My mother was terrified of being alone, and this was pretty much the only way she was able to rest. “There is pain that is physical and pain that is psychic,” she continued, “and one is not worse than the other.” Our mother was in mental pain, and we wanted it to stop. When my...

Keep Reading

I’m Not Who I Was Before My Mom Died

In: Grief
Woman looking out window at home

Life after dealing with death is hard. I’m no longer the person I used to be. I’m motherless. This motherless life is hard. I need time to grieve, but I also need time to find myself again. I need time to mourn the life I’ll never have anymore. I need time to process. I need time to process the fact that my mother is gone. I’ll never have new memories. My kids will never have new memories and people expect us to pick ourselves back up. I can’t pick myself back up quickly after losing my mom. I’m still trying...

Keep Reading

You Are the God of Details, but God These Details Don’t Make Sense

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Window open with shutters

That was not the plan. What just happened in there? We walked out a bit defeated. More than a bit. I felt deflated. Things were supposed to be different by now. This wasn’t what I asked for or expected. This wasn’t even what they told me would happen. We cross the street in silence. Headed to the car and as soon as I shut the car door, I could no longer hold it in. I let the tears flow. All this unknown. I don’t understand. This is life. This is foster care. This is what we chose. That doesn’t make...

Keep Reading

Donating Breastmilk Helped My Heart Heal

In: Baby, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Woman with packaged breastmilk, color photo

Dear grieving mama, You know when you lose a baby everything changes, but your body moves forward like nothing happened. It carried that tiny baby long enough to trigger a complicated hormonal cocktail that causes your milk to come in so that little life can continue to grow outside you. But your baby is separated from you in a way nature never intended. There will be no baby snuggles. There won’t be a sleepy, smiley, milk-drunk face looking up at you. But your body doesn’t know that, so your breasts swell and keep swelling with milk that has nowhere to...

Keep Reading

I’ll Always Need My Mother but She Left Me Way Too Soon

In: Grief
Family surrounding woman at end of her life

I married my college sweetheart over a decade ago. I want to ask my mom about marriage. I want to ask her about navigating arguments and personality differences. But she left me way too soon. My first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. My mother had three miscarriages. Her first two were before I was born, and I was her rainbow baby. Her third miscarriage was in the second trimester, after my little brother was born. It devastated her emotionally for several years when I was in elementary school. I want to ask my mom about grief and pregnancy loss. But...

Keep Reading

Have You Sat with the Dying?

In: Grief, Loss
Holding hand at hospital bedside

Have you sat with the dying? Have you seen the loved ones who sit at their bedside night after night, holding their hand? They hold on, afraid to let go, knowing the end is near but so not ready for the last word, the last touch, the last breath of life.  They sit, exhausted beyond exhausted. They know it’s time to let go, but they also wonder how life goes on without them. There was life before them, and there will be life after them, but life after now will never be the same without them.  Have you sat with...

Keep Reading

What Would it Feel Like To Hold Him Today?

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Black and white photo of parents holding toddler

 My breath catches. My heart races. I remember. I remember when they were five and six. When they ran around with my son. I remember now how many years have passed, how long it’s been. I’m watching. Sitting on the outside, peering in. Wondering. Wishing. Tenderly remembering, trying to breathe. One breath. One moment. One day, one minute at a time. The world still spins and time moves on. My other children have grown. But in 10-year-grief, the world stands a bit still. Remembering him. The 5-year-old, toothless smile. Shy hellos to his friends. Missing him. Missing them. Missing that....

Keep Reading

The Mother without a Mother

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Woman with kite on beach

“How is your mom?” My mother looked at me, waiting for my response. Born in a small town in the middle of Kansas, she genuinely wanted to know the answers to the questions she asked, and more importantly, she listened. I stared back—voiceless. I was holding my infant daughter in my arms, bouncing her up and down in that rhythmic, automatic movement that defines the early years of motherhood. Up. Down. Up. Down. I sped up, frantic almost. “She’s good,” I said. The words came out more as an exhale. I cleared my throat. “My mom is good,” I confirmed....

Keep Reading

What They Don’t Tell You about Child Loss

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Couple on dock by lake

What they don’t tell you about child loss . . .  They don’t tell you that you’ll never be the same—not that you won’t ever feel joy or love the life you have—but that it changes you. They don’t tell you about the countless sleepless nights and the not knowing why, holding your thoughts captive and the guilt that threatens to creep in.  They don’t tell you about the hole that can never be filled or replaced mostly because you never ever want it to. You don’t want it to because you hold space for your child, and you don’t...

Keep Reading

Get our FREE phone wallpaper to encourage you as the new school year begins

It's bittersweet for a mother to watch her child grow—but you both are ready to soar.