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Her Amazing Journey A family’s experiences with the impending death of a loved one, showing God’s grace and surprising purposes.


Her Amazing Journey G R AC E G R I G G E T T I NG E R

April - July 2013 Katherine’s Place • Fayetteville, Arkansas by

Elizabeth Peters



On April 14, 2013 - Grandma Grace Ettinger, 102 years old, suffered a heart attack and was taken to the hospital. She was diagnosed with aortic dissection and registered with Hospice with a prognosis of 2 days to 2 weeks. Back at her cozy room at Katherine’s Place, her family, friends, and acquaintances responded to the news.


Thursday: April 18, 2013 ce,

My Dearest Gra

away I knew u. ent we met, right From the mom ’s to look after yo ine er th Ka to e m t gh ou br d Go That any ways my heart in so m You have blessed ch passing day ea th wi ul so y to m And brought joy t face e see your swee ornings to com m e e” th ac in Gr up ing t I ge y Amaz life stories of “M And to hear the tching you sew you quilt and wa ago. I loved watching emories of long m t ea gr all of your And listening to ur pain, or how great yo e going through u’r yo at wh ter No mat complain been one to ever You have never th th the utmost fai life brings you wi ace” Gr ing az You accept what Am y makes you “M And that is what so true and your values for your family e lov l na itio u nd Your unco I look up to yo the reasons that Are only two of ce d ran a good ra a good fight, an e to face fac rd Lo e th t You have fought ee m you’re ready to at th ow kn I d An hand kes you by the And when He ta ly Gates ar Pe e th h roug and leads you th my child, ne do ying, “Well I imagine Him sa e” Amazing Grac Welcome home, er know than you will ev I love you more ve to go ha u yo en wh sad e And I will be so at we have to fac life of rt pa ath is a e” ac Gr But although de ing az y heart, “My Am You will live in m h the other side that when I reac ing ow kn in rt I find comfo r, we shall abide Together, foreve

Love Always, ne’s Place) l (CNA at Katheri Teresa Bardwel


Mother’s Day came early to Katherine’s Place... It wasn’t planned that way, but here’s how it happened. Last night I slept in Mom’s chair close enough to her bed so I could hear her breathe. And she did breathe- she rested well all night. Teresa (mom’s caretaker) came in early with two handwritten pages slightly damp from the cold rain. “I wrote a poem for you, Grace” she said, and read “My Amazing Grace”. It ‘s a wonderful thing to see caregiving the way it should be. Teresa has adopted my mom as her mom, and treats her with dignity, love and efficiency. Mom, meanwhile, gives Teresa appreciation and gratitude with a good supply of stories from her past seasoned with a dash of humor, and prays for her just as she prays for her own daughters.

All day long different family members took turns talking to Grams, and sometimes we all talked at once. There was no sense of endings or finality, it was just like it always is when we get together, laughter and concerns, joking and seriousness all mixed up like a giant tossed salad. Grandma gets the prize for talking the most. It was an emotional afternoon as we listened another time to her advice, memories and her heart for each of us. Meanwhile we were all silently wondering how that big heart of hers was holding together inside her frail frame. Jasmine painted her nails a shiny pale pink. Amy gave her sips of ice water. Jeff videotaped stories. Marti read cards that had arrived in today’s mail, and I read her Andrea’s beautifully


written letter. Ellen arranged her pillows. Valerie took pictures. Debbie checked her meds and vitals. Marian arranged the flowers. And mom- mom delighted us all with her sparkly blue eyes and attempts to smile. That was Mother‘s Day coming early, because May will be too late. Every one of us knows that something special is happening here. God told the angels to shake out the welcome mat, and blessings are fluttering around everywhere. FACEBOOK POSTS Martha Nokes Zwonitzer We love you Gramdma Grace! Thank you for always treating me and my girls as family! My girls ask about you almost every day. Thank you for the blessing you have been in their lives! Missy McPherson What a blessing for you to have this time. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Jennifer Anne-Herr Peters Please tell Grandma Grace how much we love her. We also love you so much!

Vicki Rossmeisl L Liz, You are such a strong person. Thank you for sharing. Denise Brooks Wisse What a beautiful legacy. So glad you could all be there with her. Thank you for sharing. You are all in my prayers.

Helga Clark That is a beautiful Story Liz, our Love is with all of you.

Shuvawn irish Sweet Liz, this is beautiful. Please tell Grandma Grace that the whole Sweet family loves her.

Kelli Michele Awwww, Liz, you help us all to enjoy your beautiful visit!

June Ettinger Family: This is a message to put in our Ancestry books!

Gordon L. Whitbeck She was bright in the early evening, telling her stories to Bonnie and I. Very peaceful with her.

Denise Owen So sweet. The legacy will live on in the lives of all of us. She touches so many people still. Bless you, Grandma Grace as you await your entry into the arms of Jesus. We will all miss you when you go, but are so glad to pray for you as you wait, just as you have prayed for us.

Annette Rosemann Tell Aunt Grace she is in my prayers. She will soon be up there with Mom and the rest of her sisters. I wish I could be there but it’s too far to travel for me now. Knee trouble again. Bless you all.


Kenneth Carol Flynn Grace Ettinger, What a special blessing and example you’ve been to our family. You have a special place in our hearts. We’re praying for you.

Jan Stacy What a blessing she was is and is to our family. Please tell her.

Friday: April 19, 2013

As we visit with Grandma Grace these days, in the back of our minds are questions. What is this about? What is going to happen next?

The fact is that Grandma suffered a heart attack last Sunday, evidently a good hard jolt. Teresa gave me a few of the particulars and it sounded to me like that evening could very well have been the end of Grandma’s amazing journey. I remember over two years ago when Grandma fell and broke her hip and crawled to the living room to call Marian. A broken hip is often a death notice for a patriarch of her age. That event could have spelled the end of Grandma’s amazing journey. The point is, she is traveling her amazing journey according to God’s timetable. She is still with us. Question: Why? Something is going on here, and since we are her family and friends, we really should think about this. God is at work, and is it for her benefit, or is it for ours. If it is for our benefit, what is it? We all have heard how Grandma prays for all of us. Her son-in-law, Dan, wrote to her today, “I don’t want to even imagine where we and so many

others would be if not for your constant prayers.” And Grandma doesn’t just repeat, “God bless so and so…”, she is specifically praying that each of us follow Him according to His will for our individual lives. We might conclude that Grandma’s work is prayer for our spiritual well being. Evidently that work is not finished, because she is still falling asleep with prayers streaming upward. An email sent to Grandma from great granddaughter Sarah expresses this understanding of Grandma’s role: It’s hard to believe that our family could be forever changed in just a short amount of time. I’m frightened to imagine how the loss of your prayer will increase our vulnerability to attacks from the deceiver. But I rest in the peace that our family loves The Lord. And that even now we run to the place that you have always taught us to go. We choose to seek The Lord.” 9

If you are reading this and following Grandma’s amazing journey, I challenge you to proclaim her journey of prayer a success. She is praying for YOU. Get on your knees and talk to your Lord, tell Him that you are ready to believe, ready to obey, ready to serve, ready to repent, ready to love, ready to forgive, ready to… you fill in the blanks. Then, cement your prayer of commitment in time and space, in here and

now. Make it real and permanent. Write an email to Grandma telling what you have done, that her prayers for YOU have been accomplished, that her devotion and determination have made an impact in eternity. And begin today, in this moment in time, your OWN amazing journey. Because this family and this community and this world needs another “Amazing Grace”.

FACEBOOK POSTS Brian Flynn Wow. So well said. Grace has been a family friend, prayer warrior, dedicated example of God’s love, and so much more. My grandmother also Grace, shared a keen and kindred spirit with your Grace. God even used Grace’s horseback ride a few years ago to begin yet another facet of ministry that we use our horses for here at Abundant Life Ranch. Seniors come out and lead, feed, groom, love, and occasionally ride some of our senior horses. The effect on both humans and horses has been amazing. Thank you Grace, for your faithfulness and willingness to follow our Lord through this journey he has us on. May God Bless you and keep you.


Tonja Millet Brian, love your comment and learning how Grandma Grace’s faith impacted your horse ministry We love horses, too, and have shared some great moments with Grandma Grace on horseback. Blessings. Heather Chase Senter Wow, Liz... such a profound thought that she may be intentionally delaying her heart’s desire and longing for a specific person’s benefit. So sacrificial nad characteristic of the way she’s livedher life... I hope each person deeply reflects on this to release her to heaven...

Saturday: April 20, 2013

Birthdays for Valerie and Megan, Grandma helps blow out the candles.

Sunday: April 21, 2013

Places in the heart... Grandma Grace loves the Ozark hills where she was born and raised‌ In the past couple years, we have taken her on day trips on back roads just to watch the road unroll ahead with scenic views and showers of dogwood in the spring, red maples in the fall. That is her comfort zone, her home, her heart. There are others places in her heart that are also dear. Nauvoo, IL was the location of their ancestral house with the German hospitality inscription

in the gable. There, they lived in a home with rooms like musical chairs, occupied for short times by a host of family, boarders, foster children and visitors. Grandma poured her heart into the worn wooden structure, transforming it with hard work, fresh linens, and pretty dishes. The pinnacle of Grandma’s living quarters was the house in Hazelwood, MO. She was able to custom build a home with an apartment in the lower walk-out level that was dedicated 11

Places in the heart... to missionaries who were traveling through and needed a plea for a night or a month or so. She thrived by sharing spaces and lemon pies with those whom she considered the elite of the Lord. Another nook in her heart is Kejabe, Kenya, Africa. She and Grandpa braved a new world in their elder years to host a guest home, warming it with a new fireplace and their signature hospitality. Among the people they blessed there were missionaries, travelers, and most of all, “Brown Jim”, with whom they kept contact for many years after. In the last quarter of her life, her grandson Anthony Scott, was instrumental in establishing a Christian adventure camp in the hill country of Texas. She drove in with the Scott


family on the rocky road the first night the Lord took ownership of the property in order to impact countless young lives. She watched and prayed through the years as the camp developed, nearly went under, then revived to become the success it has become. Camp Eagle has a chunk of Grandma’s heart. On her 101st birthday, we took Grandma on a “pilgrimage” to Camp Eagle so she could enjoy the results of her prayers for so many years. Today, she still has that longing to return and see all the new things that have happened at Camp. “I wish I could go one more time, “ she said. “I wish you could, too”, I said. “I guess it would take a miracle to get me there,” she said. “Yes, it would”, is all I could reply. Tonight Grandma Grace sleeps at a place called Katherine’s Place.

Through the last couple of days, more than 50 people have come to say hello from great distances, bringing their children, dropping their daily responsibilities, expending themselves for a few minutes with a frail old woman. Something happened here, and they have been blessed. Grandma’s room became hallowed ground. There was room for everyone to squeeze in this

afternoon when spontaneously, they shared in prayer, sang a hymn together and read Scripture. As they leave, family by family, one by one, they go away with a place in their own heart - An assisted living facility in Arkansas - where they shared a unique experience none will forget.

FACEBOOK POSTS Annette Rosemann I remember visiting Nauvoo when I was a kid, centuries ago. I remember having fun there. Glen S. Jones Beautiful, Liz!


EMAIL Dear Grandma Grace, I just read Liz’ description of everyone’s visit with you at Katherine’s Place and it makes me want to be a little bird on the windowsill soaking it all in. It is apparent that your influence and love has permeated into so many lives...including mine! What a sweet thing it’s been to spend time with everyone at family reunions and to get to see that the beauty of the Millet~Ettinger crew is way more than skin deep. And it’s been a blessing to have you as my adopted grandmother after my own Grandma Irish passed away at the age of 99. It’s even more of a blessing that some of the people that we count as near and dear to us are directly related to you. Without you, there wouldn’t be them! I used to joke about somehow worming our way into the Millet and Ettinger family and, who knows, it may happen someday; however, until then, we count it all joy to know you and to be part of this time in your life. You are an amazing woman! With much love, Shuvawn Sweet • Dear Grandma Grace, It’s hard to believe that our family could be forever changed in just a short amount of time. I’m frightened to imagine how the loss of your prayer will increase our vulnerability to attacks from the deceiver. But I rest in the peace that our family loves The Lord. And that even now we run to the place that you have always taught us to go. We choose to seek The Lord. He will provide what we need. Thank you for continuing to make Christ our focus. Because without that focus, we trip into chaos. Grandma, I love you! I couldn’t be more proud to call you my great grandma. Sarah Ettinger • I have thought a great deal about you this morning and prayed for you often. As I did, a letter I wrote to you back in January of 2012 came to mind. I have updated it a little. “Personally, I wish to thank you for your love and for your Godly life, which has meant so much to so many. Your patient persistence over 102 years is such an incredible testimony of God’s blessing on your life. Your name, Grace, truly says it all. It sort of terrifies me to think of living that long. “Over twenty-six years ago you and Pop sat in our living room on Club Hill and approved my marriage to


LoEtta after the Lord had seen fit to take our precious Joyce to Himself three years earlier. Can you believe that I got to my 29th anniversary and now have gotten back to 26? I remember the fabulous bouquet of exotic flowers I brought to Joyce on our last anniversary and how embarrassed she was that she had forgotten the date. What else could we expect since she was so sick? “May the Lord continue to richly bless you in your remaining days, as you minister so faithfully in prayer for all of us. Many of your grand children and great grand children serve Him long term or short term in various places in the world, following your stellar example of witness to the world. Your heritage will roll on to eternity.” I can just imagine the celebration that awaits you as you step into God’s presence and are greeted by the throngs who will call you blessed. Your son always, Bill Millet • Liz - how long has it been? I believe that it has to have been over 15 years since I saw “Grace”. But what I remember that of a woman very advanced in years but somehow transcending those years - a vibrant woman of strong belief. I really can’t articulate what it well. But her name does describe much of what I saw and felt – God’s grace in human form. A blessing.” Missy McPherson • Being one of the members of the clan that married into the Millets, I feel honored to have had an opportunity to get to know you. You are an amazing woman with such a giving and beautiful heart. I hope in your final time that you are able to be as comfortable as you can be. Love, Jennifer Millet • I find myself praying for you and your family everyday. As I care for my Mom I realize we are walking in similar paths. Mom is still with me and we are doing it daily. She has little mini strokes from time to time. We smile and laugh out loud and talk about many things. Know that everyday, as I care for my Mom...I am also thinking of you, dear friend and will continue to hold all of you close. We are His, Edna Blake Grandma Grace, Though I only saw you in person a few times, I saw the influence of your wise counsel, your fervent prayer, and your life of serving your Savior many, many

times. Your granddaughter Jennifer is like a sister to me, and I have been able to share you as my “Grandma by proxy” when I was discouraged in the life of ministry and in the challenging path of being a wife and mother. Hearing of your life and how your faith was multiplied through the generations of your family and beyond is like marching orders for those of us who get weary in the fight. I praise God for the mighty power of His Spirit displayed in you, and I am challenged to seek more of that Spirit in my own life. With love, Michelle Owens • Hello Grandma Grace. We love you and are thinking of you. Sandy Bridgeman • Grandma Grace, I have many wonderful memories of you out here at Camp Eagle, riding the zip line, getting thrown off a horse, and family reunions but my favorite memory is of you sitting in the nurses station looking out the window. when I stopped into ask you how you where doing you told me you where doing well. When I asked i you where boarded you said “No, I am praying for every child that walks by”. I asked what you where praying and you said “If I’m here or not I pray these kids are safe and that have salvation” Ever since than when people ask me how the can pray for camp I simply say “SAFETY and SALVATION”. We Love you Grandma! Many of the staff said to say hello! Anthony Scott • Grandma Grace, I sit here miles away from Arkansas and Texas wondering what I can do or even say… but I am reminded of your great testimony of the power of prayer. Prayer has almost become cliche in our Christian world that when something terrible happens or people do not know what to do they often utter the words, “I’ll pray for you.” It is often that these words are said without even actually praying for the person or events that are occurring. As I think of you, I am so humbly reminded of how prayer truly is powerful. Prayer is not some words said in haste or afterthought but an outpouring of our heart to the One who created us. I have seen this witnessed in your life and how grateful I am to have such a prayer warrior in my family. I know that through moving to Indiana, Camille getting cancer, and losing Greg that there were many prayers said in spite of our family. I know that

prayers were not only said in the bad times but also in the good times. I know it is by no mistake that the Lord led me to marry such a Godly man that truly desires to serve him in everything he does by being in full time ministry as a pastor. I thank you for always praying for each and everyone of us in our family and for being a transparent example of what it means to truly love and serve the Lord in everything. Even now as your time on earth is coming to an end you are still serving him in your attitude and witness toward others around you. Thank you for always pursuing your children, grandchildren, and even great grandchildren. I have lots of fond memories with you but one time I will never forget is when you came to stay with us in our house in Plano, TX. You told us so many stories about Nauvoo, your travels to different places, and your testimony of sharing the Lord with others. They were so exciting and inspiring to hear. As Christians, we know this is not the end but only the great beginning of praising the Lord forever with those who have gone before. Naomi Snyder (Millet) • Mother Grace, I pray for your comfort and to have a GREAT trip home. Now some things I may not have told you, and for that I apologize. First and foremost know that I love you very much! You are the kindest, greatest mother-in-law EVER! I remember most how wonderful it was to have you live with us for 12 great years, it was a sad day when you moved, but we wanted you to do as you wished. You are always willing to give very wise advise and counsel, but only when asked and never forced your opinions, even if you disagree you don’t say so. You never interfered with the way we raised Anthony and Jennifer or the choices we made and I’m sure you saw some things you would have done differently. None-the-less you kept it to yourself, and I’m sure prayed about it. I don’t want to even imagine where we and so many others would be if not for your constant prayers. One final word, but FAR from least. I couldn’t be more blessed to be marred to one of your wonderful daughters, you did an amazing job raising your children. I’m just glad Ellen said yes and so did you and Pop, I’m grateful and amazed that she is still putting up with me. Well, that’s certainly not all, but all for now. I’ll see you and Pop at home. Love, Dan


Monday: April 22, 2013

A 103rd Birthday Party? Shall we plan her 103rd birthday party? Grandma Grace is an enigma. This morning she slipped into slow motion and barely spoke. Her eyes were heavy, she would only accept a few sips of liquids, and we had to put our face right next to hers to see if she was breathing. A blanket of quiet draped the day. In the afternoon two hospice caregivers arrived to see what they could do to make her comfortable. They were rearranging her bed when Rebecca (caregiver from Katherine’s Place) came in with her 11 year old son. “Grace, you asked about Kaleb, and here he is!” Grandma looked up and her blue eyes smiled, “My, you have grown taller!”, she said. Kaleb talked with her for a few minutes and his mom said they needed to leave. “Goodbye, Miss Grace”, he said and leaned over an gave her a kiss. Then Tracy (she took care of Grams when she first arrived at Katherine’s Place two years ago) came in with 16

her two teens. Another grand reunion, lots of visiting, and Grandma Grace, though not exactly lively, managed to visit and talk and respond. Tracy’s son told me he had spent hours at a time with Grandma, listening to her stories, especially those about Africa. Around his wrist are four brightly colored bands, one for each of the four African children he gave support to. He hopes to visit Africa some day. Now there were 8 to 10 people in the room again, others coming in and out. Ellen brought her a cozy pink bed jacket to keep her warm and Jasmine showed off her curly new hairdo. Debbie fed her a little soup, Abby brought in baby Tim to play, then we took one more 5th-generation picture because Abby leaves in the morning. You can see in the picture below, Grandma was beaming. The hospice case manager talked with us about what to expect, and basically said nobody knows what to expect. So there it is. If you figure it out, let us know….


Grace is loving the attention from those who love her so much!

Carla Nodurfth She’s really having a party:)

Helga Clark Grandma looks so happy.

Denise Owen Precious. The visitors keep her thinking. And she is still praying even while she is seeming to be aslepp. My Daddy would open his eyes and keep talking to Jesus.

Kenneth Carol Flynn What a beautiful family. So happy they are with you. We love you

June Ettinger What a beautiful picture. Wish I was there for the party! I can tell Grandma

Vicki Rossmeisl Beautiful picture! It was Grandma Grace who gave me the courage to do the zip-line


Wednesday: April 24, 2013

Another day in her amazing journey... To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2) CONTEXT: Grandma Grace had her heart attack about a week ago, and was sent back from the hospital in the care of Hospice. 8:00 am Big box waiting to be opened: roses from Eden. “Tell her thank you and how pretty they are”, she asked. Breakfast tray arrived, Grams sat up and ate without coaxing. Not much, but more than usual. 10:00 am Teresa and Racheal said Grams asked to get her hair done with Delilah at the in-house beauty salon. REALLY? She wanted to get dressed, so they put her in bright pinks and sat her in her wheelchair. 11:00 am Beauty Salon- We all went along for the spa experience, Marian, Valerie and Jasmine, Debbie, Liz, Ellen


Delilah, really surprised to see her, but went to work making Grams beautiful

12:30 pm Grams back in bed, really tired. We left for lunch. 3:00 pm Grams sitting up, listening to the news and weather with earphones. WHAT? 5:00 pm Dinner tray arrived. She ate all her soup, again without nudging, and all by herself. 5:30 pm Gordon and Bonnie come for a visit, Valerie shows her video of Camp Eagle’s new zip line on an iPad, She says again that she wishes she could see all the new things at Camp Eagle. We show her how the iPhone works with pictures, video, email and phone. “Oh, Really?” she says. 7:30 pm She’s really tired, back in her nightie, ready to turn off the lights for the day.

Marian and I talked with the head nurse here about Grams’ condition. She told us the usual: She could go at any time, she could last a while longer. Asking for more detail, she said with her particular physical conditions, Grandma Grace might have a heart or kidney or lung crisis that would take her quickly. BUTthen again, she might last for weeks. We asked her about taking her out for a spring drive to see the dogwoods and she said that would be a great thing to do, if Grace wanted to and felt like she could do it. It seemed to me, and I’ve seen this attitude in my mother before; that

she assessed her situation, and said to herself, “As long as I’m still here, I might as well get going”. She’s never been one to sit back and be waited on. Her independence is valuable to her, and she was glad to get just a bit back today. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. (Lamentations 3:22-25)

FACEBOOK POSTS Jeff Millet Living up to her name - as always - she is the picture of Grace and strength abundant. I couldn’t be more proud of her or be more thrilled that she has rebounded - even if its only for a time. DEFINITELY take her for a drive to see the Dogwoods she loves. My hope is that she will keep on going like the Energizer Bunny until her Lord calls for her grand final exit and allows her to come roaring in, skid to a stop in a cloud of dust and drop gently into her grave with a big contented smile on her face for having squeezed every last drop of “living” out

of her life here on earth while looking forward toher life ever after with her Lord and Savior. Heather Chase Senter I loved reading this, Liz... It’s an honor to be even a distant relation to someone as spectacular as she... Ross Johnson Liz, thank you so much for your recent posts of your mom’s journey. It has been a blessing to follow with you from a distance. We are praying for you and the family.


Thursday: April 25, 2013

Out for a drive...

We’re doing it! Pray for our afternoon drive in the Ozark hills.


Teresa and Racheal, just two of the angels God has sent ot Grandma in these days.

FACEBOOK POSTS Teresa Bardwell She loaded up in Ellen’s rig with the girls and away they went to view the blooming dogwoods... Love it!!

Valerie Chism It was worth the sneeze. Jeff Millet Angels indeed!

Missy McPherson Wow Liz. You guys are awesome.


Friday: April 26, 2013

The Horse Story Today Ellen found a wonderful leather horse in an antique store, and we decided mom would like it as well as flowers. So Ellen brought it in to her, and that started another story. It seems Graces’s papa bought her older sister a horse, because she was his favorite daughter. It was a former race horse, they named it Beauty. After several years, it was old and tired. One day, papa hooked him up to the spring wagon and told Grace to go to town for the mail. Beauty plodded long, and Grace was aggravated, she couldn’t get that horse to pick up his head and move along. About that time, another horse and buggy caught up to her wagon. As it was about to pass them, Beauty picked up his ears, lifted his head, and took off running. Beauty wouldn’t let the buggy pass. Up and around a bend, the buggy made a turn off another road, and the driver hollered to Grace, “That’s quite a horse you have there!” Grace replied, “You should have seen him five minutes ago. “. The buggy faded out of sight and Beauty faded back to a plodding walk, head drooping. 22

The house doctor came in today, and we all mobbed him to ask what he thought about Grandma’s condition. He talked a few technicalities with Debbie regarding medications and fluids and blood pressure, but the conclusion was still the same: Grace has conditions that are not “recoverable”. And science can’t predict a timetable. He asked a bit about the family, and looked at the picture quilt with kids, grand kids and all. After he left, we sat around talking about going home or staying a few more days. The doctor came back and went into Grace’s room. Debbie was in there, and I went to the door to see what he wanted. “I would like to ask Grace something,” he said, you don’t need to stay. As I turned to leave, I heard him ask her, “Grace, would you pray a blessing over me?”

FACEBOOK POSTS Kristen Ettinger Thankful for every last one of them...

Susan Berthold Amazing Grace

Ross Johnson phenomenal.

Carrie Allen Chase DeSalvo I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m humbled at her passion for prayer..

Annette Rosemann I appreciate the updates on Aunt Grace. I remember when I used to go to her house when I was a kid. Joyce was my hero then although I was crazy about Marion too. I have many fond memories of growing up in Missouri and Aunt Grace was one of them. I also remember Henny Penny. I know Aunt Grace wouldn’t remember her but I know Mary Lou does. They fixed her for dinner. Strange thing to remember isn’t it?

I didn’t hear her prayer, but he was with her several minutes, and then hurried away. Jasmine asked me later why he asked her to pray a blessing. I told her it is because he evidently really believes that prayer is powerful, and felt he had

Casey Weeks Amazing! These are great memories! She keeps making more! I wish the whole family the best! Diana Verdensky Full of grace, the Lord is with you Grace. Jenni Green Millet Love hearing her stories! thanks for posting :)

a need for it. When I was saying goodnight to mom, she asked me what that doctor’s name is so she could pray for him again. That’s our Grandma Grace...


Saturday: April 27, 2013


A quiet day It has rained for two days, and a soft mist is hanging low over the Ozark hills behind Katherine’s Place. Last night was not good. Grandma Grace was in distress at 2 am with dizziness and vomiting. I called the nurse, who gave her meds for nausea and something else to help her relax and sleep. She was shivering so I layered Amy’s cozy throw over her. The incident left her fragile and limp all day. Thankfully, Rebecca and Teresa were here today, and pampered her all day. Ellen and Valerie and I suspended our plans to return home. Grandma is so happy to have her daughters with her, none of us can leave. Marti is coming tomorrow. What’s a couple of weeks in a lifetime of family? Later in the day, an email came from Grace’s sister, Lucy. I read to her: “Grace, You are a beautiful person, inside and out. You were such a loving sister to have included me in your life as I grew up without a mother. Thank you for that. It means the world to me. Some of the things I will always remember is how wonderful a cook you were, and how we shared the love of antiques. I remember an auction in

Nauvoo we went to and there was this piece I wanted in the worst way, but you bid on it and I let you get it...that’s just the kind of sister I am!! I have always admired the energy you always have...I will miss you.... but at 93, it won’t be for long....Love you...your little sis...Lucy” Grams experienced FaceTime for the first time and was absolutely amazed that she could SEE Craig Chism while he talked to her. She’ s seen her world progress from caring for her little sisters in the candlelight of a country cabin to being cared for by a host of loving family and friends with the latest in innovative technology. From one human being he (GOD) created all races of people and made them live throughout the whole earth. He himself fixed beforehand the exact times and the limits of the places where they would live. He did this so that they would look for him, and perhaps find him as they felt around for him. Yet God is actually not far from any one of us; (Acts 17:26, 27 ) Valerie is with Grams tonight. We hope it will be a quiet night. 25

Sunday: April 28, 2013

Two weeks ago...

Two weeks ago today Grandma Grace had a heart attack… We wonder… was there a misdiagnosis… have all your prayers brought a miracle… how long can an indefatigable mindset overrule a failing physical condition… does the presence of loving people bring healing… how long can a 102 year old body with a damaged heart can be sustained… Please comment if you have any insight for us, because we all seem to be in denial here; and I think Grandma Grace is too. We were talking about the new baby coming soon in the Scott family, and she said “I haven’t finished her smocked dress …. yet”. It’s Sunday, so Valerie played a podcast of our own Rene Schlaepfer’s message from Twin Lakes Church for Grandma. Grandma is being exposed to so much communication technology that she is taking it for granted now… Jeff and family spent some time with her this evening on FaceTime. When Marti came today, we showed her pictures of 26

grandkids on the iPad. In the morning, now she gets the weather from the Weather Channel App instead of the TV. And as often as you all send emails or write comments on these posts, we read them to her. (And by the way, If I haven’t already told you… she always says to tell you “Thank You”) She’s heard from her only sister, from old friends from Hope Church, from grandchildren and great grandchildren, and from good friends. After we read the message, she often launches into a story or memory concerning that person. It’s a beautiful day, Grams asked if she could go out in the courtyard a bit. Teresa and Rebecca got her all comfortable in a wheelchair, and Ellen rolled her outside. It was tiring, but she really enjoyed the fresh air and a peek at the spirea and triple tulips blooming. Now, she’s all tucked into her cozy bed. Her vitals are holding steady, there is a faced bit of pink in her cheeks, and best of all, she is usually up for a clever reply

and a little laugh, or of course… one of her legendary stories. It just doesn’t fit the picture of a dying woman… Jasmine asked me today, “If someone is going to die, why doesn’t God just take them right away?” We talked about how God has put us all together in a “body”, a “family” of believers, and sometimes what God is doing is not about the person being affected, but about others in the family… Grandma

Grace is being blessed with a clear mind and her family close beside her in these days. And all of us, her family, friends, acquaintances… are learning new lessons in faith each day from her patience, endurance and sweet spirit. So- please, by all means, keep on sending those greetings. She loves the news about your lives- really, she does! She continues to live - through all of you. FACEBOOK POSTS Laurie Schlaepfer Thank you for the updates, Aunt Liz! We are looking daily for any little piece of news from Katherines’ Place! Jenni Green Millet Okay, we have got to figure out how to do Face time! Mary Lou Buchta It seems like that God cherishes Aunt Graces’ prayers and she must still have work to do. Jan Stacy Well, I can tell a few stories... I remember at church, Ed’s watch would go off at 12 o’clock shartp and when everyone finally figured outwho and what it was they just ignored it and let hte preaching go on! I also have a little black doll that Grace made when they were doing some mission trips to Afica. I just saw it a little while ago when I was looking for something else. Lots of good memories!!


Tuesday: April 30, 2013

Only God knows...

The hospice chaplain visited today, and he had a lot to say about heaven. Remarking on Grandma Graces longevity, he said, “Only God knows when her time will come, and He ain’t talking.” He said Grandma told him on his first visit that she was ready to go, but here she is, content to stay around for a while. It’s a balance you rarely see, either a person will long for “the Lord to take me”, or will lament that they are “not ready for heaven yet…” But Grandma Grace seems to have one foot in heaven and the other planted here with us.

We decided that tomorrow we’ll take a day away, and visit the International Festival at Silver Dollar City. “You should go!”, Grandma insisted. “I want you girls to have a good time while you’re here”. Debbie said we should take lots of pictures and bring them back to show her, because she is living these days through us.. Today we went to a Thrift Store, and came back with our finds. She wanted to be shown every little thing we bought. “Did you see any skirts?”, she wanted to know… Ellen bought her a soft and fuzzy blue bed jacket, and put it on her to keep her warm.

FACEBOOK POSTS Lois Lanham -Liz, I am so enjoying your journals of such a beautiful story. Your writing is so descriptive; I feel like I am witnessing first-hand the love and tenderness surrounding your mom as you and your family walk this journey with her. Thank you so much for sharing. It is truly beautiful. Brooke Chase Owen -This is such a beautiful picture of so many things-


family, heaven, God, a life well- lived... Thank you for sharing. Annette Rosemann -I really appreciate your info on Aunt Grace. I just wish I could be there too. Thanks so much. Susan Berthold -Wow, thank-you so much. I sent your post to family who don't follow facebook.

But Grandma was not so perky today, slept a lot, didn’t talk as much. I asked her how she felt, and she said, “Just tired”. I’ve been working on my computer in a back office, and one of the nurses came through. “You should know that we here at Katherine’s Place are really impressed with your family and how you are taking care of your mom/ grandma. It’s the way it should be, but unfortunately, we don’t see many cases of all the family rallying around. But of course, Miss Grace is really special to us, too. We just love her.” With Grandma’s vitals holding steady, the nurses and hospice are telling us she might be around a while yet. (Then

they tell us something could happen at any moment, as well). It looks like Valerie and Jasmine will leave for home with Ellen on Thursday. Ellen is going to take care of some business, then return the following week, maybe Tuesday. If all is the same, I will probably make the two day trip home when she returns. But it’s still one day at a time. If it was up to us, we would love to circle around her when the Lord says, “come”. We want her to know she’s not alone in her amazing journey- the Lord, of course, is always by her side; and her daughters are there to help her in the chariot.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

FACEBOOK POSTS Jeff Millet Wonderful. Why not re-evaluate? She’s encountered a few miracles in her time. Perhaps God has yet another in store for her. It would certainly be fitting for one of her faith. Helga Clark That is so very true ! Susan Berthold WOW! I love you Aunt Grace!


Susan Berthold Liz, PLEASE email or post the video of dinner! Is it on You Tube? It will bring wonderful memories for many of us who have been to Kijabe! Camille Bridgman Millet - wish I had been there to partake with you. Reminds me of when I was in Kenya. Valerie Chism - ‘twas delicious and delightful!

Another chapter... Another chapter in the book of Grandma Grace’s amazing journey. Last night Debbie fixed us an authentic African dinner, with all kinds of dishes I can’t spell, like “ungali”, which we called “Oh golly!” I made a three minute video of her explaining each dish (with our irreverent remarks) so we could show Grandma later. She is having a lot of trouble with her eyes in the last few days, with seeing well and with pain, but we held the iPhone close and she watched. I had to keep stopping and starting, because she wanted to ask about the food, some of which she remembered from her years in Kenya. We (myself, Marian, Marti, Ellen, Debbie, Valerie and Jasmine) went to Silver Dollar City today. After a really beautiful day outdoors, we tumbled into Grams room with pictures, descriptions, videos, and stories from the day. The rest of Katherine’s Place was quiet and dark, but her room was bubbling with conversation. By the time everyone left, Grandma pretty much felt like she had been out for the day, too. Those of you who read these posts about these days with Grandma Grace,

I need you to pray that we will have some understanding of how she is doing physically. She is under the care of hospice, and by the very nature of that wonderful organization, they are limited to palliative care. My concern is that Grandma may be a special situation. Her condition does not seem to be deteriorating, and I would really like to see a reevaluation, but of course, hospice does not function that way. Tomorrow I’m going to see if we can get a doctor to take another look. Common sense and diagnosis has concluded that this 102+ woman won’t last long, but everyone around her is really wondering about that. By the way, we visited the quilt shop at Silver Dollar City, and Ellen, who is ALWAYS bringing something back to mom, found a ribboned pincushion and scissor set to keep around the neck. She draped it around her, and Grams thought it was really a handy tool. Who knows, maybe she will actually use it yet. One of the nurses here keeps saying, “I don’t think her ladder to heaven is finished yet!” 31

Friday, May 3, 2013

FACEBOOK POSTS Camille Bridgman Millet- LOVE that mental picture. Tell Grace how much I love her! Mary Lou Buchta Amen...give her our love


Diana Verdensky - Prays for peace go out to all. What a blessing for you to have this time. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Photo of the day... Marti pulled out a box of pictures that all of you have sent in the past year, and showing them to Grandma. You might be surprised how much each of you are thought about and fondly remembered. Marti pulled out a picture of Nate and his dog, and Grandma turned her head to say, “You tell Nathan that I’m not leaving until he gets a wife!” Oh-ho! Now we know what is going on here! (Nate don’t be mad, you know she’s a matchmaker at heart!) Another up and down night and day. Troubles with those aching knees, she got a pain pill at 5 am, but was still hurting later when Ellen, Valerie and Jasmine came in to say goodbye. Valerie had a parting gift that she bought at Silver Dollar City. It is a 24” square of rice and flaxseed stitched into 4” partitions between soft flannel. She put it in the microwave for 2 minutes, and laid it over Grandma’s knees. I wished you could have seen the relief sweep over her body. We’ll be using it a lot, not only for pain (hopefully she will get a cortisone injection soon) but also just the warmth on her skin and bones. Grandma had another pain issue later, and was given morphine by mouth. She was in that semi-sleep state when Bonnie Whitlock and her granddaughter came for a visit. Bonnie

whispered “Hi Grace” in her good ear. Grandma opened her eyes with difficulty and responded with a very weak, “Hello”. Bonnie introduced her granddaughter, who came up close to Grandma’s bedside. “Well hello!,” Grams then couldn’t resist the charm of a child, and carried on a lively interchange with her. It is a wonderful thing to watch, how this woman continually puts aside her physical limitations in order to show genuine concern and interest to others. She illustrates in real time these principles given to us in the New Testament: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” Romans 12:9-13 I don’t have a photo of the day. Keep instead in your mind the picture of Grandma Grace emerging from a groggy state of morphine- and smiling at a child because she can’t keep God’s love cooped up inside. 33

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A gift for Grace Psalm 73: 26 “My flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever” Grandma Grace’s knees are giving her trouble. Valerie’s microwave flannel pad gives the most relief, and we have been warming it every 3-4 hours. Our amazing nurse, Cheryl wrote up an order for a Cortisone injection with a big note asking for timely response and an in-house visit. She told us even if they could get a doctor to make a house call, it would take a week to get the supplies through the ordering system. “Probably a week from Monday would be a possibility”’ she said. About 9 am, a doctor came in Grams’ room, unpacked his medical bag, and explained he had come to give the injection. Take heart, Americathere is still a caring practitioner who FACEBOOK POSTS Jan Stacy She is always thinking of others! You just gotta love a woman that always think os others first. Love her!! Helga Clark - YOu are the Best, Liz. Jeff Millet ‘ Thanks Liz for your steadfast chronicles. Susan Berthold - Thank you Liz for bringing tears of “closeness”...


will make a compassionate call on a Sunday morning, bringing his own supplies and equipment. Without any fanfare, he completed the injection and patted Grams’ shoulder, telling her she should feel some relief very soon. And he was goneGrandma is very appreciative of the care she is given. “Those CNA’s, “ she said, referring especially to Rebecca, Teresa and Rachel, “They work so hard. And- “ she added from her store of aged wisdom, “Some people have a job, and some people have a ministry”. It seems each day is getting a bit quieter. She slept most of the day today. Occasionally, she talks in her sleep, or from her dreams, and it is always about people- “Ellen!” She almost shouted last night, “what are you doing with all those books?” She’s

called out other names: Jeff, Lucy, and some I can’t make out. One time it was, “Ben- is he here, I thought he was still at school”. It’s another evidence that her practice of prayer is continuing in a semi-conscious state. At times, I’ve been glad nobody can read my mind. But for Grandma, I think we can see what is on hers! She tells us often to thank everyone who has sent letters, cards, flowers, and emails that we read to her. She’s watched Valerie’s hummingbirds from an emailed video; laughed at Sue B’s picture from the Spice Shop with

her favorite seasoning, Beau Monde; listened to fiddle music sent through iTunes from Jeff; smelled the gently opening rose, the first of the spring, from Marian’s garden. Thanks to all of you who are accompanying her on this last part of her amazing journey. PS- Grams just woke up, 5:30 pm. “Oh, goodness, did I sleep all day?” She asked. “Pretty much” was the reply. “Well, I’m just no good “, she said disgustedly. “Did you tell that doctor thank you for coming in?”


Monday, May 6, 2013

A Psalm of last days Praise God as time stands still.

Praise God as vigor is diminished.

Between interrupted sleep and long uneventful hours, minutes seem like quarter hours and hours seem like afternoons. Emotions bounce from panic to sadness to delight to contentedness and back again to near to tears. Microwaving the heating pad takes two minutes, and the seconds tick off so slowly, everything seems to be moving in s-l-o-w-m-o-t-i-o-n…

Most of my mind on mom’s smallest most intimate needs. “You should have been a nurse”, she said as I soaked her dry eyes with a warm cloth, carefully, because her skin is so delicate it might tear. I’m thinking, “Never! I couldn’t do this if it wasn’t YOU.” Not that I’m the only one- all the sisters have done the same, as well as granddaughters and of course, her very attentive caregivers

I’ve been here 20 days, living in the assisted living facility, using mom’s shower, working on my computer in a back room, doing my laundry and walking the folded clothes out to the trunk of my car. Wearing the same clothes, sick of McDonalds food, can’t remember what my house looks like.

at Katherine’s Place.


Praise God as questions remain questions.

Praise God to know who I am.

Illogically, I think if I leave she will die. As long as I’m here, she lives. But I can’t stay forever. How long should I stay, why am I here, how can I leave, what is so important that I should leave… I am over-thinking this. Life crowds in and make demands of responsibilities and appointments. There really isn’t time to sit at the bedside of a dying mother. One can’t be expected to cancel

But I can’t go home. Just the thought of leaving, knowing I will NEVER see her alive again… I am unable to make that decision. I’m so blessed to be here. It is a privilege, a gift to do exactly what I want to do. I am content to sit with her and sleep by her bed, letting her know she is not alone. It is for me, it is for her, it is for the inestimable value of family. It is for God, who ordained a

everything. She is receiving loving care and there is nothing that can be done to change the inevitable end. This is not a tradition required by our American culture. There are nursing homes, hospice facilities, many types of terminal care.

holy manner of living. It is for… love.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.


FACEBOOK POSTS Jenni Green Millet -Love and hugs to you Liz! Thank you for posting. I am so glad she isn’t alone and has you and the others there to care for her. It is a beautiful visual testament of the love of God poured out through others. Valerie Chism - Reminds me of Anne Voscamp’s statement that”ALL is grace.” Each moment is offering us gifts to be recognized and to be thankful for...the heavy ones and the light ones. June Ettinger - THANKS SO MUCH, Liz, for writing this beautiful letter to us all. It made me cry as I knew it was coming from your heart. You will never regret the time spent with Mom. This is an extra precious time that is building memories that can only be captured NOW. You are so faithful in keeping us informed. You’ll never know how much it is appreciated by each family member - especially we who live too far away to be there. I am copying each letter and putting it in my book of memories - my ancestry book. My love to each one of you. Steve Wolcott - Thanks Aunt Liz for sharing from your heart. Betty Hamilton - Beautiful. Shawn Bridgman - Never apologize for doing the right thing...blessings to all in this bittersweet time! Sarah Ettinger Chills!- That’s a beautiful psalm. Mary Lou Buchta - Liz I so understand... for I miss my mom so much, your Aunt Bonnie and it has been over 14 years. But I have the memories of those times with her...those precious moments without regret. I miss my dad as well, both gone in just a few months from each other... but we have hope...knowing we will see them again..not frail...but in a way our minds cannot fathom. Praise the LORD for hope and GOD bless you and your whole family.


Jeff Millet- The apologies should perhaps be made to people like you from people like me who are not quite as selfless as you. YOU - along with my aunts Marian, Martha and Ellen, and my cousins Debbie and Valerie, along with her caregivers Rebecca, Teresa, Rachel and friends like Bonnie and Gordon, and others I am overlooking, are a ALL heroes to me. You are there representing our family as living examples of the Christian values Grandma Grace has toiled her whole life to instill in us all. You all are her greatest living legacy and the foundation and future of our family. Even though she’s physically weak, I suspect that spiritually she’s as strong as an ox, and more than willing to lend you as much of her stamina as you need. The kind that comes through her daily prayers for us all. Thank you Liz for your tireless, gracious efforts. Cindy Booker Millet - Love you Liz! I so appreciate your genuine honesty! That is what draws so many people to you! Jan Stacy- Oh cherish those moments however long or short they are. I miss my mom quite often and wish I had more of those moments!! You can never get time back so you just stay as long as you want!! Laurie Schlaepfer- It gives me great comfort to know you are there!! Missy McPherson- Liz - thank you for sharing this. God is blessing you and through you others as you participate in this part of your mother’s life. You know me all too well - I always wonder at the reason and purpose and what it all means ... but I believe that God i...See More Camille Bridgman Millet- I am so glad you are able to be there with her and hope that I can do the same for my own mom someday. Your heartfelt words made the tears flow.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Time travelling

Grace, born in 1910 in a cabin in the Ozarks, is a real live time traveller. Communication was face to face or hand written letters that might take a week or more to reach its destination.

“How, then,” asked Grams of the neighbor, “did you know she said that?” Recalling the incident, Grams laughs, “She was caught in her own lie!”

In Nauvoo, we had a wooden wall phone with a long black earpiece on a cord, a couple of round metal ringers, and a mouthpiece mounted in the middle. If it rang, we had to listen for OUR ring, which was three longs and a short. The neighbor who often listened in on the “party” line told Grams that she was mad at the lady up the bLock. “She said I am a nosy neighbor!”, she complained. “ I never listen in”.

Fast forward to 2013, smart phones, and FaceTime. A couple of you have connected and talked to Grandma Grace using FaceTime. She was mystified at first, then delighted. But it is hard for her to see the small screen, and difficult to hear as well. Today, Jen solved that with a cord and adapter to the TV. Now Grams can see a larger picture and hear using the earphones already remotely connected. We tested


the system by bringing up a new video of the zipline at Camp Eagle. “Oh, my goodness,” she exclaimed, watching four simultaneous flyers coast over the treetops.

Later, two aides brought a portable weighing contraption into the room. “We’re going to weigh you, Miss Grace,” they told her, and proceeded to roll her onto a large blue pad, then clip it onto a hoist. “What can you get for me, “

We kidded her about hooking her in, how easy it would be, and all she’d have to do is enjoy the ride. After all, she was 90 when Anthony put her on the old zip line and sent her flying.

Grams joked, “10 cents a pound?” I took one look at her dangling in midair, and decided the Lord put her in training for Camp Eagle’s new zip line.

FACEBOOK Valerie Chism - Looks to me like you’re ready to zip! I’ll go with you! Mary Lou Buchta -- her so much


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Steady. Stable. For by me thy days shall be multiplied, and the years of thy life shall be increased. Prov. 9:11 Grandma missed the glory train. She was sick for weeks and weeks with dizziness, diarrhea, and vomiting. She contracted C-Dif. She had a heart attack, and was sent to the hospital. We sisters got the dreaded phone call, preparing our hearts the for inevitable. Grams pulled through the crisis she says was the worst pain she’ s ever known. “ I hope I never have to go through that again”, she says. We learned a new term: “Aortic dissection”. Wikipedia states,” Aortic dissections resulting in rupture have an 80% mortality rate, and 50% of patients die before they even reach the hospital. The risk of death is high in untreated aortic dissection. While the risk is very high in the first 24 hours of the event, those that survive the initial event still have an elevated mortality. 75% of those with ascending aortic dissection who are not treated die within 2 weeks. Grandma Grace is 102 and a half and medical logic placed her into hospice care. That was 26 days ago. As you all know,Grandma Grace is not one to lay around and wait for

the inevitable. She possesses a great deal of fortitude, and has survived tuberculosis, a botched C-Section, a broken hip at age 100, and who knows what else. Her physical heart will fail at some point in the future, but for now, she is stable again. Frail, weak, but stable. Day by day, we have watched the blood pressure levels, the oxygen levels, and the kidney output. Steady. Stable. Her color is good, her mind is sharp, her spirit is dependably buoyant. The smoke from the engine of the glory train fades into the distance, day by day. I wrote the following five days after her heart attack: “Tonight Grandma Grace sleeps at a place called Katherine’s Place… Through the last couple of days, more than 50 people have come to say hello from great distances, bringing their children, dropping their daily responsibilities, expending themselves for a few minutes with an frail old woman. Something happened here, and they have been blessed. Grandma’s room became hallowed ground. There was room for everyone to squeeze in this afternoon, when spontaneously, they shared in prayer, sang a hymn together and read Scripture.” Since that weekend, family and friends have made a visit, spoken


through FaceTime, and sent email messages. Local friends have dropped in for pleasant visits, brought in babies and grandchildren, some have quietly come in and asked for prayer. We should never underestimate unrecognized effect of love. Perhaps, in addition to Grandma Grace ‘s own indomitability, the enormous outpouring of attention and care from her devoted family and friends and caregivers has been noted by the Lord who numbers our days. In Isaiah 38, there is a recorded incident of extra years of life extended to Hezekiah. God


does interact in the lives of His people, especially to those who have the faith to ask. We who have witnessed this amazing journey of Grandma Grace should not be amazed at this most recent incident. What we should we amazed at, is that God has granted us a bit more of her. Until that glory train comes by again, (and it could still be soon), Grandma’s prayers and presence continue to nourish all of us who know her. Praise God from who all blessings flow.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Unexpected Visitors

1. Grandma Grace was settled and sleepy after breakfast when there was a knock on the door. “I just dropped in to see Grace a minute, “ she said. She reminded Grace that her mother, Wilma, had shared the Cottonwood Wing. “The day that my Mom passed, well, I can hardly talk about it,” she said. “My family are Christians, and they all came in that day, and we sang to her, all day. “ She wiped her eyes. “That was about a year ago.” “The reason I came in, she continued, “is that I remembered how much Grace loved missions. I am going on a missions trip to Haiti, leaving in a week. I came to ask Grace to pray for our work and safety.”

introducing herself to me as a friend from Nicodemus Church. The boys came in a bit shyly. Grandma Grace remembered that the mom rode horses. “My sons ride more than I do now”, she said. “Tell Miss Grace about your ride the other day, “ she said to the five year old. That was all the direction he needed. He pulled off his riding boots, and slipped in beside Grams’ chair. Usually Grams tells the stories, but today she listened. “I was ridin’ Lucky, (later described as a very old, opinionated, shoeless horse) and we got to the creek, and he laid down in the water!”

All this was repeated into Grandma Grace’s best ear loudly. “ I will be praying,” she said simply with a nod. 2. A young woman with a teenage boy and a five year old boy, both in cowboy boots were waiting for Grandma Grace to get comfortable in her chair. The mom came in brightly, 43

He took a big breath and continued, “I had to jump off him so he wouldn’t roll over me!” Grandma Grace was really enjoying this yarn. “Sounds like you knew what to do,” she said. “Yup, and later, after I was riding him again, that Lucky, he took me in the thorns,”. We asked him all about that narrow escape, and Grandma put in her two cents worth about stubborn horses. 3. Everybody was busy, busy with the food tray, busy with the blood pressure machine, busy taking our the trash. We hardly noticed when a young girl holding a baby squeezed beside Grandma’s bed. “Miss Grace, it’s Selena. I was your CNA a while back, remember?” Grandma nodded. “I wanted to show you my baby! This is Eva.” She plopped the plump, beribboned baby girl on Gram’s bed.

Grandma Grace lit up like a chandelier, and started playing with the baby “Can I keep her,” she laughed. The baby snuggled right under the blankets with Grams, all the while giggling and bobbing her pink headband. 4. Bev Knoner, just back with her husband from a missions trip in the area where Debbie and Steve Wolcott worked, (the Ssese Islands) came in to talk about what they did there. Grandma Grace lit up with memories and ended up storytelling instead of listening. Some of the best years of her life!

Unexpected disguise?




Saturday: May 11, 2013

Of brown serge and brogans “Growing up we had to wear brogans. They were clunky, brown high topped shoes, and mine never fit very well. Once we were walking down Main Street between Cass and Easton. There were shops on both sides of the street, and I saw a window with 44

shoes. There was a pair of black patent leather shoes with straps. They were shiny, and I wanted them, but I was told they weren’t practical. “I remember my first pair of new shoes. They took a group of us from the City

Gospel Mission (in St. Louis) down to the Enna Jetick factory. Our feet were measured and we were given shoes. I don’t remember choosing them, we would have been too embarrassed to say what we liked. “When I worked at the Washington University library, I only owned one dress. It was brown serge. When it was dirty I washed it by hand at night and pressed it in the morning. A lady there gave me two dresses in a bag and said maybe I knew somebody who could use them. I gave them to my sister Pearl, because I didn’t think they were for me.” As I listen to my mother’s stories, I think about the way God crafted her life. She is cut from cloth that isn’t available anymore. She made choices about humility, patience and faith when circumstances were almost unbearable. Listening to her, I don’t think she is aware of the courage and spirit she showed to overcome attitudes of despair, anger, depression,or lethargy that might have given her an entirely different character. She could have accepted an attitude of fatalism, waiting on fate or others

to alleviate her distress. At the other extreme, she could have had confidence in her own abilities and character to seek success on her own. But she is “Grace”. And it was her acceptance of God’s grace that nurtured those qualities of the Spirit that we see in her these days. It was a life-long process of accepting her circumstances as God’s schooling, believing that He is good. She looked beyond her reality to an eternal destination, and chose to follow God. She hopes and prays that we have done the same. My Dad used to say he was obviously not a proud man. How did we know that? “Because God gives grace to the humble!”, he would laugh, quoting the verse from James. The grace bestowed upon Grace’s humble life is so evident now, as she is given honor by those who know her, love by those who have been nurtured by her, and respect from many, something she never would have imagined as a girl wearing ill-fitting, clunky brogans. And heaven is still ahead! 45

Saturday night, May 11, 2013

FACEBOOK POSTS Mary Lou Buchta - I sent Aunt Lucy pictures of Aunt Grace drinking her malt and the one with the horses...she was so too. Liz Peters -We’ll try to call her tomorrow

and see if they can hear each other. Two plucky, great ladies- your mom, too! Mary Lou Buchta- Aunt Lucy could hear me OK but will having a garage/porch sale tomorrow....

How many ways to say, “Mother”? A sister-mother relationship Today, I called my Aunt Lucy, (Grandma Grace’s youngest sister) who is 93 and lives in Missouri. If you remember the story, their mother died when Grace was 13 and Lucy would have been a toddler of two and a half. It was a crazy conversation. Lucy can’t talk very loud, and mom can’t hear very well, so I had to be the go between. The Grigg girls tried to one-up each other with one liners. “Grace, I had a garage sale today, and I got $40!” “Really? I haven’t got 40 cents!” “You want me to send it to you?” “No, I don’t need a thing.” “Well, how are you doing?”

sister’s voice, even ever so faintly. They exchanged small talk for a while through me listening to Lucy, then shouting in Grandma’s best ear. Aunt Lucy, out of breath from talking, finally said, “Give her a big hug for me. And tell her “Happy Mother’s Day,” because she’s the only mother I’ve ever had. “ A niece- mother relationship My beloved cousin Jerry has told me, oh so many times that “Aunt Grace was like a mother to me.” Grandma Grace had that way of taking in others who needed nurturing. And she did it so matter-of -factly, not expecting anything in return. Jerry wrote a couple of weeks ago, “We’re asking Jesus to take away the C-Diff and to touch your frail body with healing from Him. He has plans for you, and we all need you.”

“Getting in as much trouble as I can!” Grandma’s eyes lit up hearing her 46

A homeless child-mother relationship It was a snowy Thanksgiving night, and

a county official knocked on the door to ask Grace to take in two homeless boys. “No, “ she replied, “I have girls, and I don’t think it’s a good idea.” When told they had no place to take these two, Grace couldn’t turn them away. Larry and Terry lived with us as family for several years. An African house helper- mother relationship Grandpa Ed and Grandma Grace hosted a guest house for AIM in Kenya, and “adopted” a young African known as “Brown Jim”. In their usual hospitable way, they brought him into their kitchen, and over Grandma’s hot rolls and coffee, talked about the Lord. Long after they returned to the states, Brown Jim continued to write to them, and they arranged to send sermon tapes to him for Bible study. A son and daughter- mother relationship Grace and Ed had one son and five

daughters, spread out from 1930 to 1952. It was like having several families, because some children had left home when younger ones were born. From a diary Grace wrote in the mid-50’s, we see into the heart of this Christian mother: “I once told the Lord, “Use all my children.” He gave them to me, I give them back. We have tried in our feeble way to place the Lord first in our lives. The Lord has been with us, and I ‘m sure He will continue to be. We shall count it all well if we see our children walking in His statutes and in His will for them. My prayer is that perhaps my children won’t have to be dealt with as I, that they may learn their lessons an easier way, but learn them they must to have true spirituality. “

Mother’s Day has come to Katherine’s Place, and the bed in Room 105 is the seat of honor.


Sunday, May 12, 2013 MOTHER’S DAY

How to say goodbye Tomorrow I will sit on Grandma Grace’s bedside and let her know I am going home to Florida. She defies all the logic that dictates her demise. Today, she ate lunch with us in the dining room, dressed in her lively blue jacket and scarf, with matching earrings Ellen put on her. (I named Ellen “Auntie Bling” years ago for her attention to accessories.)

We ate “chicken ala king”, a dish that Grandma Grace served in her Tea Room at Nauvoo in the early 60’s, and fresh tender asparagus. Normally, Grams sniffs at her lunch tray, takes a bite or two and waves her bony hand dismissing the tray. “I don’t want anymore, “she says wearily, while we try to coax a couple more bites. Today, she finished everything on her colorful

FACEBOOK POSTS Mary Lou Buchta - Tell Aunt Grace Happy Mother’s Day...I have been calling Aunt Lucy and reading the wonderful words from Liz. Thanks Liz for the updates and the wonderful pictures you paint. Jim Booker - I’m so lucky to have you as my cousin. Love all of you. HAPPY MOTHERS DAY. Jenni Green Millet - Please tell Grandma


Happy Mother’s Day from us! And Happy Mother’s day to you, Marian, Marti, Ellen and Debbie too. Not sure who else is still there. Shawn Bridgman - Oh how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand His decisions and His ways! Rom. 11:33

plate. We dished up a small serving of the warm blackberry pie and added a scoop of ice cream, and she ate all that too. Debbie brought a dinner guest, a pastor from Bunia who is taking a class at John Brown University. It seemed like old times again in the Ettinger house; good food on pretty dishes, and an extra plate at the table. Just a month ago, we arrived with expectations of planning a memorial service. Now we are seriously wondering about a 103rd birthday party. Grandma never used a computer or owned an iPhone. But she’s really enjoying the technology of FaceTime. She chatted with Jeff and family, (using the wireless headphone and watching the TV), and chuckled at seeing all their dogs. Then Valerie called, and she talked with her and the girls while they sat on the parking lot at Starbucks. It’s still a bit confusing, though. When we played a video from Jen Mitroff, she thought she was back

on FaceTime, and kept waving back to the boys! Before our Mother‘s Day party was over, the African pastor took Grandma’s hand and prayed for her. He asked for a blessing, and for strength for her frail body. He closed by asking God to be present in this place, so that God’s glory would shine. From all I have seen this past month, that prayer was answered before it was even offered. And now I can go home. The memorial service can be planned another time.


Monday, May 14, 2013

Shadows of death, glimmers of heaven My mother’s hands are thin and bony, she can’t keep them warm. The nurse has to rub her finger briskly before taking the oxygen measurement to get a reading. As I sat beside her to say goodbye, she gripped my hands in hers and said, “Your hands are so warm!’ “I am sorry I have to go. “ “I wish you could stay. I hate to see you leave. I don’t know if I’ll ever see you again.“ “I think you will. You have been stable for weeks now. I will come back in about a month.” I paused, then plunged ahead with the words that must be said. “And if the Lord comes for you before that, you’re ready to go. “


“Yes, “ she said, “I am. I’ve been thinking about the 23rd Psalm,” she said, and started to recite it. I joined in with her and together we quoted the words as a duet:

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

“That part about the shadow of death”, she said, “ I’ve been thinking a lot about that. I wonder if I will be able to see what I’ve escaped,” she said. “Because it says the shadow, but He will walk with me through the valley. “Then I will see Ed and Joyce and Jim and Paul and Greg. And my mother. “ She paused. “ I think I will see my father there. He told me when he died, ‘I don’t know what the Lord will do with me, I’ve run from Him all my life‘. When my sister stayed with me, she said she heard Papa praying in the night. So I think he believed in God, but wasn’t obedient. “ She clung to my hands. We sat in silence a few minutes. “I hope all my grandchildren and great grandchildren will accept the Lord. I hope they will be obedient to Him. I keep praying for all of them. “

“I know you do, mom. And God will keep after them”. We exchanged more personal words, and I kissed her withered forehead. Ellen came in and mom prayed for safety as we drive, and a blessing on our lives. We drove away in the morning shadows with the glimmer of sun arising.

FACEBOOK POSTS Heather Chase Senter- Tears stream down my face.... How I wish I could keep this perspective when saturated in the shallow, competitive, busyness of life... To live each day like she lives.... I will miss your daily updates, Liz. Susan Berthold My heart is heavy for you Liz as you travel home with your beautiful thoughts.


Wednesday June 5, 2013

Another ultimatum... I was home less than three weeks, when I got the dreaded phone call. We’ve approached my mother’s hospice experience one day at a time. It’s impossible to plan for an uncertain future. In the process, we’ve discovered the meaning of these words: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” (Annie Dillard) Sunday evening, Missy and I arrived at Grandma Grace’s bedside after a day on the road from St. Louis. We just missed Jeff, driving back to Dallas after spending a few hours with her. We met Marian, Debbie, Ellen; and Marti (just arrived yesterday from Florida). Grandma was happy as could be that all her daughters were with her, and we spent time chattering with one another, and writing on a whiteboard to Grandma, who cannot hear at all. Abruptly, Grandma blurted out to me, “Did they tell you I was going to kick the bucket?” Stunned for only a moment, I burst out laughing with her. Much later, I realized how philosophically deep was her countrified quip. Think how fearless, how at peace, how humble 52

and cheerful one must be to make that expression! There are hours that seem to be her last hours. Her congestive cough is deep and rough. She sleeps deeply and long. There are painful times of dizziness, dry heaving, excruciating leg pains. Then a moment of grace interrupts. A visitor stands beside her bed, she opens those blue eyes, and weakly says, “hi”. Still thinking of you first. Today I spent an hour and a half setting up my iPad with your emails and Facebook comments for her to read. Then she would tell me what she wanted to say to you. I am living her life with her, as a great grandson tells her he is at Kejabe, where she and Grandpa Ed lived for a while. Pictures of great

grandchildren fill her with delight. A great-niece and her daughter tell of their trip to Haiti. Bunches of hugs are emailed and posted.

news! Lucy is on her way down to see you. I talked her into coming down this weekend. We will leave Friday morning-” (Kim Wiley)

Then this from her niece; “Hi Aunt I was doing my devotions and praying...I of course thought of you...and I was talking to God about you and asked Him what work you still had to do for Him here. The words that came to mind was pray... our country is in big trouble and God listens to a righteous person like yourself...James 5:16 comes to mind...The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man (woman)avails much. So we are in desperate need of your prayers...many hugs and much love.” (Marilou Buchta)

“My sister!”, she said to Brittany (CNA) with excitement. “She’s coming - what day is this?” Grandma Grace is counting the days and I’m counting my blessings. I am a witness to grace personified. “Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there”. (Annie Dillard)

She was tucked in for night and sleeping when Brittany came to check on her. Since she woke up, I just had to pick up the whiteboard and dash off one more email just received. “Good

FACEBOOK POSTS Mary Lou Buchta -I am so happy that Aunt Lucy will be able to visit. She was so happy to know when Aunt Grace was able to take a trip to see the countryside with you girls before...and now she will be able to see her only sister. May God bless each moment for both of them. Annette Rosemann -It will be so wonderful to have the sisters reunited again. I wish Mom were joining them. I’m sure Aunt Grace will once again be reunited with Bonnie, Pearl,

Annette Rosemann -Liz, thanks so much for keeping the family posted about Aunt Grace. I missed it so much when you went home. It is so appreciated. Mary Lou Buchta -I have to agree...we felt a big empty hole open up...but now you are back...I was so glad that Jeff posted as well....we love you all.


Friday, June 7, 2013

Rachel’s youngest boy, Verden, visited Grams today. She got lots of hugs. He was leaving and Grams waved him back. “You know what- right at this very minute, my granddaughter and her husband are in an airplane over the ocean on their way to Africa! What do you think of that!” She got another hug.

Sisters Everyone on the Cottonwood wing of Katherine’s Place knew Grandma Grace’s sister was coming today. I think Grandma felt like I did as a kid on Christmas Eve, and the hours of the day were filled with happy anticipation. Grandma last visited with Lucy on her 100th birthday. They talked briefly on the phone a few times, but communication was difficult. Grandma still cannot hear, and she is getting drops, preparing for a procedure to clear her ears scheduled for Sunday. I asked the floor nurse, Kristie, if she could possibly check 54

Grace’s ears and see if the drops had worked enough to clear her ears today, so she might be able to hear her sister’s voice. She thought it might be a possibility. A bunch of us gathered around, including Teresa and Rachel, who were off the clock, but wanted to know if Grace would get her hearing back. Despite all the positive wellwishers, Kristie was unable to restore her hearing, but held out hope for some restoration later. So we cleaned off the whiteboards again, and found the markers. Grace still beamed. Her enthusiasm was

contagious. The other residents and

shoes in my suitcase that are not going

the caregivers and the family all shared

to be worn this trip.”

in her expectation. It was sort of like sitting on the bleachers at the ball game, watching your favorite player, participating in a shared optimism.

Kim and Mike Riley brought Lucy in a wheelchair, and rolled her into Grace’s room. Lucy nearly bounced from her chair and Grace reached out her arms. Christmas morning dawned

Somewhere in the back of my mind I


am thinking, “I have a black dress and





June 55

Friday June 7, 2013 We sat around and chatted and wrote on the whiteboards for a while, reminiscing about horses and road trips, houses and cousins. Then Grace wanted her neighbors at Katherine’s Place to meet Lucy. I was reminded again that absolutely everything about my mother has to do with everyone else. She had to share the joy.

And Lucy. She lives in her own apartment and drives her own car. What can be said, but that these Grigg girls, with their matching blue-eyed sparkles, also match wits and smiles; good will and true grit. At 93 and soon to be 103, they are lightning bolts of inspiration.

FACEBOOK POSTS Mary Lou Buchta- Liz, thank you for this wonderful chapter in the Grigg adventures. It was like being there with you. To read your words, and see the elation in the eyes of these sisters made me feel a part of their visit. You have been such a blessing to the rest of the family who cannot be there with you physically, but can share these moments through you. Annette Rosemann- I agree with Mary Lou 100%. Kenneth Carol Flynn -What a blessing for you and your family to witness this! Helga Clark -They look so happy together, great picture Mary Lou Buchta Praise the Lord...Aunt Lucy was able to visit Aunt Grace...I am so glad and happy for both of them. They


are both precious to me...sisters in family and sisters in faith. Can’t get any better than that. Thank you for the pictures Liz. Shawn Bridgman -That is a precious pic. Oh my the stories both of them could probably tell!! Christie Neal -Gosh Grandma, can’t tell you how it warms my heart to see you surrounded by those who love you!!! You’ve impacted so many lives and continue to do so everyday. It’s been so long since I’ve seen you but you are in my thoughts and prayers so often. Much love!!! Keep shining His beautiful light!! Annette Rosemann - Thank you Liz for this wonderful picture. I’ll place it my album on my computer. Oh, I just wish I could be there too.

Saturday, June 8, 2013 After a pleasant day visiting with Lucy, Grandma Grace was ready for a nap about 3 in the afternoon. I told her Lucy would be back around 5 with her daughter Kim and husband Mike to say hello. then, I said, we were going out for supper. “Where is my purse?” She asked. “Do I have enough money?” “You mean you want to go out?” I spelled out incredulously. “It’s not often my sister is here,” she said. So- with special thanks to Teresa for getting a new oxygen tank and getting Mary Lou Buchta - Looks like hospice was left behind for a while...glad they have had their time them both so much.

her ready, Grandma Grace joined the group at the 60 yr old resturant, Venesian Inn, at Tontitown. The table was a bounty of giant warm yeast rolls, Italian specialties and fresh salad. She did’t come to eat, however. She came to sit beside her “baby sister”. She was tired, almost too tired to smile. By the time we were heading back to Katherine’s Place, she had signs of distress and I was worried. Finally in her bed again, the last thing she said was, “Tell everybody thank you for taking me along today”. You shoulda been there!

Shuvawn Irish Sweet - Unbelievable! I want to be like her when I grow up.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Moving On... Grandma Grace has been dying from false assumptions. Put aside pneumonia, C-Dif, aortic dissection, and congestive heart failure. Something like one of those will surely take her when God says, “Come!” But the recent threat to her vitality is more about false expectations. Grandma has a strong faith and knowledge of God. However, none of us are past the point of spiritual and self discovery, including myself and my dear mother. Scroll back to April 14. After months of digestive tract problems and urinary tract infections, she fought C-Dif, and had been temporarily moved from her Cottonwood room to a quarantined area. All this culminated in a heart attack, an experience Grace recalls as the most agony she’s ever experienced. Her prognosis was an aortic dissection, and that condition resulted in her placement in Hospice.

CONVERSATION 1: “Mom, I’m here, and so are Ellen, Marian and Marti. “ “They said I had a heart attack. And I won’t last” “Well, at least right now your blood pressure and oxygen are good!” She just shook her head. Challenge: Experienced professionals issue a death notice based upon CT scans, MRA results and the fact that the subject is 102 and in poor medical condition. Prognosis; 2 days to 2 weeks. Assumption: Death is imminent. Historical record: After 2 months, Grandma Grace is not only alive, but all vital signs are stable; BP 110/65, oxygen levels steady in the high 90’s, unconstricted breathing (with oxygen). Even with stress of a bout of pneumonia, and the fatigue after drives in the country, her vitals were stable. The dissection in the aorta didn’t rupture. Discovery: God trumps science.


CONVERSATION 2: “How do you feel, Mom?” “ OK.” “I think you are doing pretty good!” “Well, I won’t be here much longer.” “Why do you say that?” “Those two ladies were here today from Hospice to bathe me. With Dad, it was just a few weeks after they helped him that he was gone.” Challenge: Compassionate individuals from an honored institution administer palliative care and resources. Curative initiatives are not provided. Assumption: Death is imminent. Experiential data: When simple curative medications were indicated for pneumonia or bronchitis, Grandma’s family had to bypass Hospice and find a doctor who would prescribe the necessary prescriptions.

CONVERSATION 3: “Mom, I have to go home today. “ “I hope I will see you again. I don’t think it will be long.” “Why do you think that?” “I’m over 100 already, and people don’t live much more than that.” Challenge: Society’s statistics reflect an average life span of 81 for an American white female. Grace is approaching 103. Assumption: Death is imminent. Personal history: Grandma Grace has outlived her husband, two of her six children, one of her grandchildren, most all her old friends, and four of her five sisters. Discovery: God numbers our days.

Discovery: Hospice is meant to serve the dying, not to nurse the living. It is not a diagnosis, but a service. Continued...


Truth is, since Grace’s heart attack, each time she has bounced back into stable health, no one was more surprised than she. Somewhere in her brain, she thought she wasn’t going to make it. She is ready to go, she is at peace with God and everything else, she is tired of the drudgery of living with impaired sight and hearing, legs that don’t walk, and a dizzy head. But God hasn’t called her yet. And to her credit, there are no complaints or whining. Meanwhile, she is dispensing joy daily. Anyone who comes to comfort her leaves with a lightened heart. I asked her why she thought God has kept her with us. “I don’t know, “ she shrugs.


Next week, Hospice will possibly discharge Grace Ettinger. I sat with the nurse last Friday discussing her status, and she said that Grace’s condition probably no longer warrants the coverage. Ellen’s response to this was to tell Grandma that she was going to the office at Katherine’s Place to reserve the room for her 103rd birthday party, August 3-4. “You think I’ll be here?” Grandma asks. Ellen said, “Yes”. Grandma replied, “OK.” You’re invited, make your plans. No black attire allowed.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Another Crisis “As your days, so shall your strength be” Gary and I had lunch with his Dad at the Heron House, and spent a few hours visiting with him. Ellen called from mom’s bedside. She has been unresponsive, and hasn’t eaten or drunk for two days. Ellen’s going to try getting a juice into her. She said a nurse came in and wanted to give mom something for pain, and Ellen declined. Mom prefers the ability to communicate over a mandate for sleep. Gary and I stopped on the hour ride home to get a Dairy Queen. We ate inside, and when we got into the car again, my phone had four missed calls. “Ellen?” I asked, and heard tears. She put the phone to Mom’s ear, and I heard her say, gasping for breath, “Liz, I love you. Tell Your children I’m praying for them. “ Ellen told me she had come out of a sound sleep reciting the 23rd Psalm and calling for her girls. She would say a few words, then fall asleep again. Over the next few hours, mom came in and out of consciousness, and

continued saying last words. Her heart spoke of family and those in need. Texts and calls crossed from Arkansas to Florida. The Hospice nurse was present, advising the family of the next steps that might be necessary.

Meanwhile, mom’s vitals were monitored. Her oxygen level remained high, blood pressure low, but at acceptable levels. At 6 o’clock, mom heard her vitals announced, and said aloud, “Am I still alive? It takes a long time to die. “ Ellen called me back in the evening. “We’re going to get some thing to eat. I just reminded mom that she Invited Yvonne Repplinger to her birthday party, and told her she’d better be there. “ “OK,” Grandma said, and closed her eyes again.


FACEBOOK POSTS June 9 Shuvawn Irish Sweet -Doug and I will be driving back from vacation those days... I think we’ll take a detour and come celebrate a birthday


Christie Neal -That’s good stuff Liz:)

holds our lives in His hands, as you know. Only He knows the day and the hour. Aunt Grace has a reason for being here in God’s great scheme of things, so I say God bless you and her and know that God surely has a plan for Aunt Grace’s life still, and we are blessed by it as well.

Jenni Green Millet- I love it! We’ll be there!

Liz Peters- Mary Lou, what a story! Wish we could sit down together and talk.

Mary Lou Buchta Liz, My husband was supposed to die, twice, 9 years ago with a brain hemorrhage, stoke which left him paralyzed on right side, blind, not be able even couldn’t swallow. Then he got even worse, with blood clots in both lungs and down down his right leg. He was then supposed to be go on dialysis, and respirator. They said 2nd bout was worse than first and didn’t know if he would ever be taken off of them. When we put praise music on in his room, everything when back to normal. We watched on his monitor and had other check to be sure. We kept praise music on day and night. We kept hearing God say, Jerry will have many miracles. That the shadow of death was just a shadow. God brought us to scriptures to encourage and sustain us so that we could continue. Jerry is not paralyzed, he has 1/2 vision in both eyes and can hear in his right ear. He can do quite a bit of the things he did before. God’s promise was that he would be almost the same, but not quite. That was 9 years ago. God

Missy McPherson- Liz - as always, your eloquence is amazing. God too is amazing Mary Lou Buchta- Liz, it sure would be good to sit and talk over a nice cup of tea. The whole episode of Jerry’s trauma, I said, everywhere I looked, God was there. From the moment Jerry said he had a bad headache to the time he was able to come home. God is real and He more than willing to help us even before we ask. He was also there when I took care of Mom which is another story that is amazing. Kenneth Carol Flynn- The Lord has blessed her as she has served Him. June 14 Hello to Grandma from Kenya! Steve, Debbie, Jon, Brian, Mikayla and I are all here safely and doing well. TCA Mission Africa 2013


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Sunday: July 7, 2013

Peeking through the garden gate The invitations have gone out for Grandma Grace’s birthday party and RSVPs are coming in. I miss my mom these days, more than I ever have in my life. She can’t hear me on the phone, but can say a few words to me. Everyday I go to bed thinking about her in her cozy room, and hope she is comfortable. Every morning I wake up wishing I could look over to her bed from the recliner and say, “Hi, Mom!”. It was such a privilege to be with her daily for over a month. Today is Sunday. Our pastor talked about the “End of the World as we Know it”, reminding us of the reality of eternity, the prospect of standing before the Throne of God, considering our lives in the light of His presence. He pleaded with us to be sure of our faith and be aware of how we live that faith out in the days we have here on earth. The very moment Gary and I walked out of the church door, my phone buzzed, indicating I had a text message. This is what I read from Teresa, Mom’s caretaker and daughter


(we’ve adopted her and Racheal and Rebecca at Katherine’s Place). “Ok, so Grace says that a man came into her room yesterday after lunch and put her in her wheel chair and took her out to the garden with him and they stayed all afternoon. She said she didn’t know him. I was here till 3:30 and she didn’t go anywhere. I called Marion to ask her if she knew anything about it and she said no. Grace is insisting that it wasn’t a dream that it was very real. She is telling me all this with the most beautiful smile on her face and she is very excited to share her supposed garden adventure with us. Wow, what a morning! I could feel the spirit all over me in there as she told her story. I just wanted to share this with you.” Grandma Grace is in touch with another world. It isn’t the first time, either… While I was there several times she heard music, and talked to me and Teresa about it. “Where is the music coming from?” she asked. We said we didn’t hear any. “Yes, there is music,

you know, hymns, I have been hearing it for hours,” she said. Then there were those days we thought we were losing her. She was talking to those around her, then talking to someone else. And sometimes in the night, she spoke

anyone else who knows her will believe as she does: that God created the world and all of us in it, and that He sent his only Son Jesus to redeem us after sin separated us from eternity. She wants us to believe, love and follow Christ,

from her bed, I thought in her sleep, but she remembered it in the morning and talked about it.

and give our lives to Him instead of living for our own purposes. Now, in her very last days, she is blessing us with the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1) Through her, we get a peek into the garden of God.

Grandma Grace is blessing us with evidence of the reality of heaven. I have said before that she has one foot in heaven and one at 4405 Persimmon Road. She is literally; think about that; LITERALLY, straddling time and eternity.

The party is still on, but keep in touch. Grandma Grace may lose her foothold here at Katherine’s Place.

What is MOST on her heart at any given time is that all her family and


Kari Chester -I love my Aunt Grace and love how bold and real she is with her faith! Love you Liz Peters and thank you again for sharing this! I love you Aunt Grace Ettinger! Missy McPherson -Praying for you.

Abigail Wolcott Kim -Wow. Thank you for writing this Aunt Liz. Annette Rosemann -Thanks Liz. I sure wish I could be there but am unable to get there yet. I appreciate all the info you pass on and make me feel like I am there too.

Heather Chase Senter -It gave me excited chills and caused me to cry, too.... Thank you for letting me experience the beauty and miracle, too!


This is not her story - it is ours. 66

Her Amazing Journey  

A family’s experiences with the impending death of a loved one, showing God’s grace and surprising purposes.

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