My grandmother passed away on Sunday morning around 2:30, right after the time change. Mercedes Dorothy (Bloom) Wolner was taken into the arms of her Master to find peace, joy, and restoration for her body. Her parting wish was that all of us would “be happy” because she was happy to be going to see Jesus. Even while dying, her only thought was for us. This was the way she lived her life: serving her husband, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren with every fiber of her being. When she departed, the small community of St. James, Minnesota and everyone else who was ever touched by her loving heart (a heart that flowed through her soft, gentle hands) came out in droves to offer their sympathy and to honor the memory of a truly exceptional woman. With her death, she gave us all one final gift, drawing us together as a family to celebrate her life.
She was a dove. I cannot really express what she meant to me, because I am only now, in her absence, truly realizing it to the fullest degree, and my soul groans within me in the wake of this loss. Even as far away as she lived for most of my life, she still was able to express her love in powerful ways that evade description. Her smiles contained fountains of unconditional love and joyful pride in each member of her family. Her eyes twinkled with life and strength. Her arms warmed the very core of me every time she gave me a hug. Her home was always a safe haven from the troubles of the world.
The last time I spoke to her was a rain-soaked Wednesday evening last week. Though she was slipping away and seemed to know it, she focused all of her energy upon talking to me. For those five minutes, I was the only one in her universe. She told me she loved me and that she was going to Jesus soon. I told her I loved her and that she inspired me.
Saturday, I saw her again. This time for the last time. She was silent there, lying on the hospital bed in a morphine-induced sleep. I sat next to her, holding her hand in mine. Those same soft hands that had served four generations of my family rested limply in my own. A few hours later she was gone.