I hope everyone is having an “It is Well Wednesday.” We certainly are in the Hilton family because today we celebrate our Addy’s 12th birthday. What a precious gift we received on that cold evening, not only the gift of a child, but the gift of our heart’s desire, a baby girl. We gave her the name Addy Leigh. The name Addy, came from an old movie and Leigh from her great grandmother Mary Lee Slawter. I pray that Addy will enjoy a long life just as her grandmother did, following her Savior.
Speaking of Addy’s great grandmother known to us as Nannie, I would like to tell you about the faithfulness of our God. One week ago Monday, we buried Nannie. She had a rich full life, leaving us at the ripe old age of 96. You would think that at 96, we would not have been surprised but we were. You see Nannie had lived through so many things, the loss of her mother, the Great Depression, the loss of two husbands, the loss of her dad, the loss of boyfriends, yes, I did say boyfriends, outlived several, the loss of her sister and the loss that I think was the hardest of recent days, her sweet daughter in law, Nellie Hilton. Nannie had the tenacity of a bull, and as my son so beautifully shared at Nannie’s Homegoing Service, a zest for life that most people half her age do not share. She had been able to live in her own home, for the most part, by herself. Her age was beginning to show but she was still doing so well. She had a stroke a year and a half ago at our house, on Thanksgiving Day. She was never quite the same, but was not willing to give up. We all spent this past Christmas together at my sister in law’s house. It was a little more of an effort than it used to be for Nanny but she REFUSED to give up.
Nannie fell recently, back when we had the ice. She drug herself through three large rooms to get to a phone to call someone. Taken to the hospital she was checked for broken bones and had none, they sent her home. I was not happy with her breathing but let it go until her blood pressure began to get pretty high. On Sunday following her fall, she and I headed to Forsyth Hospital in the ambulance. After five hours and two sets of x-rays, it was determined that Nannie had a blood clot in her lung. We never gave a thought to her not coming back home. She wanted to make it to 100 and if anybody could do it, it would be Nannie. Her hospitalist, Dr. Tom Wolff, told her he would do everything he could to help her reach her goal. For the next few days we watched and waited as she would become unresponsive and then come to, back and forth. On Wednesday, Jan. 23rd, she was clinically dead. No life support, but her body had not shut completely down. She did not show a blood pressure and oxygen level was so low, she should not have had breath to breathe. So we all waited. Everyone left, but me. I wanted to be there if there was a chance of Nannie waking up. I had told Ron, “it is as if she is just sleeping, and will open her eyes any moment.” On Thursday, Jan. 24th, while everyone was gone but Pawpaw’s first cousin, AG, at approx. 1pm, Nannie, Mary Lee Slawter, opened her eyes, acknowledged she knew who she was talking to and to get Gene, her son. She asked for Ronnie, Bonnie, Aaron and Addy. You better believe that we got to the hospital as fast as we could, not knowing how to prepare ourselves. There she laid, fully coherent, talking and saying her good byes to everyone. To us, to our children, other family and friends, who were either there or she was having them called and talking to them on the phone. What did she tell us, “she knew she was dying, she loved us, don’t grieve because everybody dies, do this right, she wanted to die in the evening and she wanted her hair to look nice. She was not afraid, just as her favorite Psalms states, Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me. She had received a glimpse of heaven and she was ready to go. She had one last visitor and had to encourage him to leave, so she could go to sleep and wake up in heaven. What a sweet time we had. What a wonderful gift the Lord gave not only to Nannie but to all that loved her. We had a nine hour window, when what needed to be said, was said. Even in death our God proved Himself redemptive and restorative. He gave us that gift through Nannie.
Nannie lived a great life but in her last year of life she did depend on Meals on Wheels for her hot lunches. On Valentine’s Day, I remember going by to see her and she had to show me something. She had received the sweetest Valentine card from one of our listeners. It thrilled her heart. Yes, she had family that loved her. Yes, she had family that cared for her. But she could not have received a sweeter card from someone she never knew but through it she felt the extended hand of love that Jesus desires each of us to give to another. I think if Nannie were still here, she would say to everyone, “Thank you for showing me love through the Valentine card I received and never stop making them for the seniors, who need a little extra love and encouragement, just as I did.”
More information about Sweetheart Surprise can be found on our website,
Blessings! – Bonnie