Joy from Georgia

In January, I turned thirty-nine. In May my grandmother, who turned ninety-nine in March, passed away. Until now, she has been a constant in my life. I know that I was lucky to have a grandmother who was there for me for almost forty years. How many people can say that?

It was very important to my granny to live at home for as long as possible. She loved her home, her family and friends, many of whom lived mere miles from her in the small rural town of Mauk, Georgia. The land she lived on, as far as the eye could see, had all been owned, at one time or another, by her parents, brothers and sisters. She was one of eleven children and, I'm certain, she was beloved by every single one of them.

Ozella, my granny, had a brother named Andrew who, after being widowed by his wife, found companionship in a woman named Janice, equally as amazing as my grandmother. Both Andrew, before he passed away, and my father, Ozella's son, had, unbeknownst to the other, asked Janice to take care of my grandmother. That these men, who loved my granny dearly, placed such trust in Janice speaks volumes about the woman Janice is. She gives all of herself to her family and we all agree that without Janice's care – from taking my granny to doctor appointments, managing her medicine, overseeing additional caregivers when my granny needed 24 hour, in home care, to painting Ozella's nails in her favorite bright pink or red colors and washing her hair in the kitchen sink – my granny could not have fared as well as she did for as long as she did. It was such a comfort knowing all the little, loving things that I would have done for my grandmother had I lived closer, rather than 2,000 miles away in Seattle, were being done by Janice.

Five hundred words cannot really express how thankful my family and I are at knowing how well Janice took care of my grandmother while she was living, making it possible for Ozella to live at home, have meals at her dining room table, and sleep in her own bed until her very last days. In truth, five hundred words doesn’t really scratch the surface of the generosity in Janice’s heart for those she loves and cares for on an ongoing and daily basis. Being a caregiver, oftentimes, can be an under-appreciated, thankless and stressful job, yet Janice continues to give all of herself with such grace to those around her. To dear Janice, should she ever read this, I thank you, honestly and truly from the bottom of my heart and I know my sweet grandmother felt exactly the same way.

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