Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Greatest

Lots has been written on Facebook, Twitter, text messages, and emails today, but I wanted to take a second to share here.  The greatest woman to grace the world passed away this morning.  My great grandmother, Mildred Elsie Bentley.  She was 100 years old.  And the world will never be the same.

I just got back from a multi-city vacation (more on that later) which ended in Arkansas visiting the family.  Last Saturday I went down to Levy to see my Mamaw B, as she was so lovingly called.  She had taken to sleeping a lot more, so I had been warned that she might be resting and that it was possible she wouldn't recognize me.  When I walked in, she was sitting in her usual chair.  I leaned in for hug and kiss, and she asked me to sit in her chair with her.  I told her I'd pop a squat on the bench next to her instead.  I held her hand for the next hour while we alternated listening to the stories floating about the room and just being together in perfect quietness.  She asked about New York and if I still loved it.  She asked about Selby and my mom.  And when it was time for her to lie back down, I walked her into her bedroom.

Through tears I hugged and kissed her.  She gently touched my cheek, looked me in the eye, and said, "I pray for you and your happiness every day.  I want you to know that."  I knew in that moment, it would be the last words we spoke... and it was beautiful.

Last night I was told that she didn't have much more time with us, and my dad promised he'd call when the time came.  I didn't sleep well and finally dozed off around 4am.  Oddly enough at 9:05am I popped awake - the dog, thirst, or nature didn't wake me.  It was peaceful and I just laid there thinking about my fabulous Mamaw B just like she often was in the picture above.  At 9:30 my dad rang.  She had passed about 10 minutes before.  I will forever believe that the Universe woke me to allow me to savor the last few minutes this world would have her.

I've spent the day in reflection.  I loved her so much.  She was full of love, life, and beauty.  She prayed every single day for each of her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great great grandchildren by name.  She made the best peanut butter cookies and chicken/dumplings.  I remember her laughter as my grandpa taught me how to bait a fishing hook at Shoal Bay and her singing "What A Friend We Have In Jesus".  I will always cherish the conversations we had about "As The World Turns" and "Young and the Restless" until she quit watching the latter.  And I will forever be proud to be the liberal following in her Democratic footsteps...

She was the greatest.
Some things are meant to be, the tide turning endlessly,
The way it takes hold of me, no matter what I do, 
And some things will never die, the promise of who you are, 
The memories when I am far from you. 
All my life, I've lived for loving you; let me go now.
I love you, Mamaw B.  I hope I can live up to being a fraction of the woman you were.


  1. I remember you talking about her while we were at the IHop last Saturday! I believe God allowed you to wake up to savor those last moments...she was probably doing the same thing..thinking over her last times with all her loved ones. She is resting peacefully now and getting to see her precious Lord that she loved so much and all her loved ones that passed before her. Rest easy knowing she is so happy and at peace now!!

  2. So sorry for your loss - your Mawmaw B sounds like one amazing lady! So glad you got to have that recent visit with her.

  3. Thank you Joy for such a wonderful description of her. She has truly left a wonderful legacy behind through her family. Although I wasn't blessed to know her as long as others, I will always cherish how happy she always was and how she would always tell me she loved me. I was able to be with her in some of her last time here and will always remember how peaceful and loving she was even then. It was such a blessing to be able to help her a little during that time. I know I will miss her and hope that each of her grandchildren and great grandchildren will strive to be more like her. Such an amazing lady.

  4. Beautiful post. Forgive my forwardness, but I have one small edit:

    "I loved her so much. She was full of love, life, and beauty."

    "I love her so much. She was full of love, life, and beauty."

    She may not be with you in our current form, but her presence and spirit will always be felt; the love is never in a past tense. xo.