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  • Abbigale Winslow

Life Lessons at The End

Recently, my grandmother’s cancer has taken a serious turn for the worst. So bad that she already has made arrangements for her funeral, headstone, and I was tasked to write an obituary. While death is a natural part of life, it hits us all with surprise and pain. The last few nights I have been at my grandmother’s bedside rubbing her feet, or feeding her water with a spoon. My poor mother has dedicated her summer and only time off to tending her mother. Death teaches you a few things about human nature, and how we are all so human and all so fragile.

The most obvious lesson I learned by watching my grandmother was that no matter how old, how tired, how sick you become, you still care about how you look and how people perceive you. A struggle has been trying to get my grandmother not to care about how she looks. She is always apologizing for her behavior and how unkempt she must look. But we don’t care. No one cares. All we see is a woman clinging to life. Now more than ever, I see how important our bodies are to us not just as women but as humans. That is a concern and pride we always keep with us. I have resolved to be kinder to myself and work on my imperfections with patients. I get to have this body for a long time, and ultimately it determines how rough the journey.

I also have realized how our lives are in God’s hands. I use to selfishly pray that my grandmother would live long enough to make it to my wedding. Now, I pray that the Lord in his mercy will take her home soon. It’s been many nights that my grandfather will call and have us rush over for her “last hours” that turn into just another long night. As the days turn into weeks, I am reminded that we in the end are nothing. That God has his hand continually over us and His will for us will be done. I take a lot of peace in that. Faith isn’t faith unless it is all you are holding onto. I can see how true that is now. My new goal is to excerpt deeper faith.

Lastly, I have been faced with the realized that being kind does matter. From elementary to high school I had mixed feelings on kindness. Believe me—I always tried to be kind, but I sometimes felt discouraged. If anything, I struggled to know the balance between being taken advantage of and being kind. I left high school wondering if it really mattered how we treated people that likely I’d never see again. My grandmother set me straight on that.

The Relief Society in our ward gave my grandmother a collection of notes from the ladies in our neighborhood. Every note mentioned my grandmother’s kindness, whit, and loving demeanor. I read every single one of them to her from the inch-thick book. When we were done I set the book on the counter and hugged her around the shoulders. She was brushing off tears from her eyes when she looked at me.

“Abbi, it is always worth it to be kind. Never forget that,” she said. “Sometimes all someone needs is a smile or a kind word. We can always give that.”

I have thought about her words almost every day. Now, more than every being kind matters. It matters because it is your kindness, loving demeanor and personality that people will cherish your memory by. I have been striving to leave that smile and kind word wherever I go now.

I laugh at how little I know about life. I haven’t experienced anything near what others have. But I hope this post can lift others with some thoughts from seeing my grandmother’s struggle.

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