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A TIME OUT AND A "TOODLE-OO!"

Jennifer Shumway

July 11, 2012

When my grandma was ninety years old, she was diagnosed with lung cancer and given three months to live. A month later, soon after her husband of seventy years passed away, she decided that her last wish was to reunite all the girls in her family—every daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter. When she learned about the Time Out for Women program, she decided it would be the perfect excuse for her to see all her female posterity gathered together, and she insisted on paying for everyone’s ticket to make sure we would all be there.

Grandma got to Salt Lake City on a Friday afternoon after a long drive with my aunt Monte, and even though her frail ninety-year-old body was tired, she met all her girls with warmth and joy, hugging each one of us and calling us by name. When it was time to go to the first Time Out for Women meeting, we bundled her up and took her across the street. She was in a wheelchair and hooked up to an oxygen tank, but she had a huge fan club of adoring women fawning all over her. When we arrived, we all sat together, eagerly awaiting the first speaker and basking in the excitement of being together again. Because Grandma was going blind, she couldn’t see the stage or screens, but when I looked over at her during the event, I saw that even though she often had her eyes closed, she wore a peaceful smile on her face, just happy to be with everyone.

After a while, her daughters decided to take her back to the hotel to rest. On the way out, they heard her speaking in her soft, barely audible voice. They stopped and asked her what she wanted, and she said softly, “Sheri Dew—I want to hear Sheri Dew.” So they brought her back in, and our little, loving group felt complete again.

The next morning, we all gathered in her room for breakfast and prayer, eager to start another edifying day. Since she was the oldest, we let her pick who would offer the prayer, and she decided she wanted to do it. In her quiet little voice she offered the sweetest prayer. It was so simple yet so sincere, thanking our Heavenly Father for letting us be together. There was not a dry eye in the room.

Before Time Out for Women was over, Aunt Monte decided that she and Grandma had better leave so they wouldn’t be traveling through bad weather in the dark. With tears in our eyes, we gathered around her wheelchair, gave her a group hug, and told her how we much we loved her. Grandma hugged us again and told us she loved us. They wheeled her into the elevator and we all waved. Grandma never said “goodbye”; she always said “toodle-oo.” So instead of saying goodbye, we blew her kisses and called, “Toodle-oo!” The doors shut and we all shed a few tears, knowing that this would be the last time we saw her.

This morning I got a call that Grandma had passed away peacefully in her sleep. She was a remarkable woman who served so many people through her life, and I’m thankful for the time I had to be with her at Time Out for Women. I know that she hung on because she wanted so much to see all her girls at the sisters’ reunion; Grandma always cherished her family more than anything else in this world. Time Out for Women helped make her last few weeks even sweeter, and helped us make memories that can never be erased from our minds and hearts. And thinking about my grandma now, finally reunited with my grandpa and her loved ones, I treasure the life-changing moments we spent together that weekend.

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