Carol was 72 years old.
She had a husband, four children and five grandchildren, ages 1 through 11 and she knew she was going to die.
She had taught in public schools for four years and had been a teacher of pre-school children for 30 years. She was active in her church as a choir member for over 40 years and was a youth leader.
As a day care teacher and director, she was guided by the principle that each child was loved as one of her own. The children were kept active, outdoors as much as possible. They had to learn to get along. Whenever several of them had a conflict, it had to be worked out at a “peace bench.” No day was closed until all conflicts had been resolved.
The children were challenged mentally with stories, poems and songs that made a positive point. The stories got more and more meaningful as the children got older. Her love for the children was returned even as the children came home from college and hugged their former day care provider.
Ever the parent, grandmother and teacher, Carol considered her time in hospice as one final teaching opportunity and expression of her values and love for her grandchildren. The following was her written message to each of the grandchildren:
My dear grandchild:
I give you these hands to hold you close with love.
These hands are also for holding you close whenever you are troubled.
Think of me as someone who cares deeply for you, no matter what.
Please love and treat each member of the family with respect.
Family is important.
It’s been comforting watching you grow and become wonderful young people.
Remember you don’t have to be perfect, just keep growing and improving as you travel through life.
You’re not better than anyone, only different.
Being unique is good.
Together we are better, bigger, more fulfilled.
Sharing and giving are great gifts.
Do them willingly.
Do what you can to stay healthy and always keep learning.
The most important things in life are free.
If you’ve got some extra energy, just run around the house a few times.
You can do it with someone else.
When you are sad, just sing or play a happy song; I had one for most things.
When you are angry, take a deep breath.
It helps you relax.
Remember in relationships you can disagree.
But in love, do it politely, and your love will get stronger.
Please make peace if you hurt another.
It’s hard to forgive, but forever comforting.
Give them a hug before leaving or sleeping.
Remember, that’s what the peace bench was, a way to settle differences without regret.
Have patience with others.
They may not be as fast or good as you in some things, but
probably better in other things.
Stimulate your memory.
It’s helped me a great deal in recalling songs, poems, stories, and
Before falling asleep, always tell those close you love them.
Remember I have been and will be proud of you as you march
through your journey in life.
From your Grandma Carol, with Love.