Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Charlene Miller

I tried really hard to get to the hospital in time.

This morning while taking care of Elora and Cami, Charlene's son Perry called saying his Mom was not doing very well. I felt such an urgency to go see her. After the girls left, I quickly left for the hospital, stopping at Den's office on the way to pick him up.

When I got to Den's office he was standing outside waiting for me which I thought was a bit unusual since I normally go in and talk to his secretaries a bit. He opened my car door and told me that Charlene had just died. I was feeling so disappointed I did not get to say goodbye. I am disappointed that I didn't get there just 30 minutes earlier.

Then Den said to me with tears in his eyes, "As sad as we are, I have to be excited for her. She's seeing her Dad for the first time." That just put everything into perspective for me. Charlene's Dad died over 88 years ago, before she was even born. He never got to meet his little girl in this life, and now they are together. She is also with her Mom again, and her husband, which I know she dearly loved.

I have to be happy for her, and I am. She is no longer trapped inside that frail little body of hers. She no longer has to use her walker, which she so much did not like.

We met Charlene Miller just 6 years ago when she came to live here from El Dorado Hills. She was a widow, and her son and his wife wanted her close by. She was easy to talk to and comfortable to be with.

Charlene is the 3rd one from the left
Her grandson's wife is on the far left.

We were good friends. I would go with Dennis when he home taught her. Charlene also became my visiting teaching partner these past several months. I also loved that she would sit beside us each Sunday during Sacrament meeting.

When she broke her hip, and had to miss several weeks of church, I mostly kept her chair beside me empty. It just did not seem right that anyone else should sit in her chair. I cried the first Sunday she was able to come back and sit beside us again.

Charlene would often whisper in my ear during church. Things like, "I think we have such a wonderful bishop" Or "Pam and Carol came to see me this week and we had such a lovely visit" Or "We need to get our visiting teaching done this week. I don't want to put it off." Or "Why do they keep it so cold in here?"

She would notice if my eyes would wander around the chapel during a hymn, and point me back to where in the hymn I should be singing.

Just last month it was announced during Sacrament meeting that we were to sing verses 1-3, skip 4-5, and then go to verse 7. I thought to myself, 'Charlene is 88, how is she going to remember that?' She did! Not only that, but she looked at me to make sure I skipped over to verse 7 also.

Three weeks ago after we had gone visiting teaching one last time, she said she wanted to take me out to lunch. I can't even remember the reason I couldn't that day, but I had to say, "Oh, I'm sorry, but I do have time to go through a drive through if you want." So we went to Foster Freeze...a place I had not been to since my boys were little. She ordered a hamburger, I order a dry fish sandwich, and she insisted on paying for them both.

When I took her home that day she insisted on just having me drop her off in front of her house. She said she needed to get her mail. I said I would get her mail for her. She insisted I go home and she would get it herself. That was Charlene. What if she fell and no one was around to help her? So I ever so slowly drove around her gated community ending with coasting by her house to make sure she was inside before I left.

Last week I called her to see how she was doing and she said she was just really tired and had been diagnosed with a bladder infection. She also said she was gurgling in her sleep and her doctor had said she had water around her heart. This sounded like how my mom was shortly before she died so I was very concerned we were losing her.

Saturday her daughter in law called to tell us Charlene was in the hospital with pneumonia. I wanted so badly to go see her but I just couldn't because of other circumstances. Just yesterday Dennis left work to see her. He said she was very coherent but kept dozing off during their conversation. She said she thought she would go home tomorrow. She told him to give her love to me. I think now, that was my goodbye.

I keep thinking how she told Dennis yesterday that she thought she would go home today. She was right. She did. How we will miss her! Everyone who knew her, loved her. Without a doubt.My friends, Sheila, Charlene, and Jenni

I will miss you Charlene. I don't even want to go to church this Sunday and sit there without you. But I am so happy for you. And I will come looking for you someday.


Tom and Karen Mortensen said...

Sorry about your friend. She seems like a great lady. I am glad she had you for a friend.

James and Kresta said...

Jill, this is such a beautiful post! She will be greatly missed! Thanks for the good memories of her.

Mary said...

What a lovely tribute to a good friend. I hope I can be that stalwart in my last days.

Lisa said...

You said it all Jill! She will remain vividly in our hearts and mind. I'm gonna snatch one of your photos since I don't have one of her at all.

You are really a great friend. I watched you with her & with everyone else. She loved you and she cherished your friendship & support. We're all so lucky to have these precious association and Charlene is by far ONE of the ALL TIME GREATS!!!

AWESOME TRIBUTE you've written about our dear, sweet friend.

Jill said...

I so agree Lisa, she was one of the all time greats. I'm having a hard time absorbing the fact that she is gone. That I can't call her. That I can't hear her quirky little laugh.
Thank you for your call today Lisa. I'm sorry I didn't get back to you yet. That was sweet of you to call though.
And yes, go ahead and take the pictures :)

grandmapeg said...

Jill, I am sorry for the loss of your dear friend. I know you always had her best interests in mind and I know you will miss her dearly. Charlene couldn't have had a better and more loving visiting teaching partner than you! You have the gift of friendship with everyone but I've noticed that you are particularly kind with the elderly. I know you will miss her so much and from the above comments I know many others will too. My prayers are with you and the other sisters in your ward that will miss her, but oh what a reunion she is having now with loved ones who have passed on before!!!

Rebecca said...

This post is so sweet. It makes me want to be nicer to the old people in my ward. Not that I am mean or anything, but sometimes it seems we get so busy we forget....

Luke and Nat said...

Such a sweet tribute...loved all your thoughts and I don't even know her... :)

Eileen said...

Oh, Jill, Charlene will be right there next to you in church this Sunday. You go, and see, you'll feel her right there next to you, even more so.

Like so many others here, Jill, I'm so sorry for your loss, but I'm so happy for Charlene.

Lovely tribute, Jill.
You are in my thoughts and prayers,

Anonymous said...

Thank you Jill for writing about your remembrances of Charlene. I will miss her, too, and I loved reading your thoughts.

Laura Paul

amyburb said...

Thanks for this post Jill. I always loved seeing Charlene in church. She reminded me of my great Aunt who we always called Auntie. I had to refrain from calling Charlene Auntie sometimes! I thought she was so beautiful and sweet. Thanks for sharing more about her.

The Millers said...


As you can tell, I have been slacking on my own blogging. This have been chaotic around here. I was so touched to read your post. You really captured all the great traits of my grandma charlene. We do miss her and her sweet spirit. She was definitely always thinking of others. I know she mean't a lot to you guys, and I'm glad that you guys were so good about looking after her. Thanks!