Dying with Grace


Saying Good-bye

I said good-bye to my grandmother this weekend.  She lived for 90 years and was the matriarch of our family.  Her death brought many of her children, grandchildren (22), great-grandchildren (49), and relatives and friends together.  It was the first time I was calmly tearful at a funeral service, as opposed to tearfully sad.  I knew Grandma was at peace.  I wasn’t heart-broken.  I was reflective and proud.


I visited my grandmother two weeks ago.  I sat with her in the hospital room, rubbed her favorite lavender oil behind her ears and whispered I love you.  She woke up in pain as the medications wore off.  I fed her jell-o and wondered when the suffering would end.


Peaceful Moments


It was three days later.  I received a call that my Grammie refused food.  She wanted to go home.  Caring for a person in their last days on earth is special. Maybe that sounds odd, but, for me, it was.  I only had a tiny glimpse, but there was such peace in that little room while she rested.


There existed a closeness to the other side. Like I, too, could touch it, maybe blink and feel heaven.  A special peace comes when the mind and body is one. The power of the mind is immense.  It was obvious to me that my grandmother’s mind had made a decision for her earthly body.  She was ready for freedom.

A Life fulfilled

My grandparent’s wedding picture.

I can only hope to have her kind of effect on the world.  A head nurse, a devoted wife, dedicated mother and even care-taker of her in-laws in their last years of life.  Not every moment was perfect.  There were hard times, stressful times, and uncertain times.


There were times when she would clean up on a weekend.  Then four rowdy boys would clamour inside, traipsing mud all over the floors, destroying the sparkling-clean bathroom.  And the nights where she would wait, listening for the footsteps of her children, all 7 of them, on the creeky stairs.  Had they made it home from their evening teenage antics?  She would call their names aloud and pray.


After I had my third child I asked her, “Grandma, how did you do it?”  I was tired with a toddler, non-sleeping infant and a 9-year old.  I couldn’t believe she managed 7.  She told me, “those are the best memories, the greatest times of my life.  When they were all young and we went to the supermarket, or to the beach. I look back fondly on those days.  Cherish them.”

Cherish it Now

Anete Lusina on unspash.com

So, I do.  I take the 12-day vacation in which 6 of us plus the dog drive down the coast.  I pack up everyone and head to Costco, get the play doh out at restaurants and create experiences with my young children.  As an ADHD mom I forget suitcases, make messes and probably yell more than other moms of 3, but I’m still doing it.  I will look back fondly.  I. Will.  Cherish.  This.

Last Sunday I looked out over my cousins’ country property and watched 60 family members soak each other in. I realized why my grandmother was at peace:  she had done meaningful things in her life.  Her career, her marriage, her children and her choices fulfilled her.  If we’re (her family) a worthy legacy, then she made a great impact on this world. And she cherished us. I love you, Grammie.



What moments will you cherish?  How many suitcases will you forget creating memories on this life journey?




Published by Family ADDventures

Nicole Santiago is a learning specialist, student advocate, and founder of Family ADDventures. As a specialist, she assesses and teaches clients (adults and adolescents) to manage and grow their executive functioning skills which include emotional regulation, task initiation, and time management. As an advocate (IEP coach), she is a member of COPAA and ensures inclusive (special) education students receive the most appropriate educational services possible. She often collaborates with OT's, SLP's and neuropsychologists all in the name of student improvement and success. Her practice is located in San Antonio, TX, and everywhere (virtually). The author grew up an army brat and spends time with her three ND children and husband in Puerto Rico whenever possible. She writes about mental health, parenting, education, and entrepreneurship on her blog: FamilyADDventures.com

3 thoughts on “Dying with Grace

  1. Thank you Nicole! I know you are doing the hard work now of raising your children with love. You are happy and will cherish the fruits and joys. Now and always ❤️


  2. Honey – This is very moving, touching, healing and a great tribute to your only earthly grammie. Naturally, very painful for me when I think of the coukd have beens for you and your Nana, but, w God’s love and help, I am feeling that you were so blessed to have those years and final moments to comfort your grammie. She was a fortunate woman to do pretty much everything she wanted to do and have a large family topped her list. I would like to have had another hour w her to try and be her friend but I think now that she is in heaven, she may look to her granddaughters and know I had a little bit to do w who your are and were to her. Daddy and I both know you and Ab are a wonderful combination of us and we both feel proud about that and You Both.

    I am very pleased at your closure written so beautifully, Honey, especially w the backdrop of that large family all from two people in love.

    Love u, Moma Xoxox

    Sent from my iPhone



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