December 21, 2009


On December 21, 2004, Jo Ellen Allbright Vick danced into heaven. I never saw my grandmother walk. By the time I was born, the arthritis had stripped her of that ability. She came for Christmases when we lived in Dallas and sent birthday cards every year. By the end, a scribbled signature was all she could manage at the bottom of our cards, but she never forgot.

I found out that my beloved grandmother had passed away in O'Hare Airport. Every time I walk past that Starbucks, my eyes fill with tears. I'll never forget that moment. Mom got a phone call, closed her eyes and said "Thank you for telling me." She didn't have to say anything else. I ran through the airport, tears streaming down my cheeks. I had been in denial up until that moment. I had refused to pack nice clothes for our cross-country trip. I had made her snowflakes out of folded paper to hang in her room since snow is scarce in West Texas, even at Christmas time. I wrote her letters and sent a couple with my dad. He was with her. We didn't make it in time.
I placed the snowflakes next to her body on December 23. She looked so peaceful. I had never seen her without pain. In the next few days, we went to the nursing home to go through some of her belongings. Next to her bed sat two small crosses. I knew she could always see them. Of all the things we found in her home, those were all I wanted. I carried one with me for years. It was always in a jacket pocket or purse. They sit next to my bed, now, a reminder of a woman who always smiled despite the immense pain and discomfort caused by her arthritis.

Mimi Jo loved everyone with all of her heart and never complained about anything. She was genuinely happy to see everyone who set foot in her home and trusted that her Jesus would bring her through anything. She was only 62 years old when she went Home. She has a grandson who won't remember her and a granddaughter on the way who she will never have the pleasure of spoiling. It brings me such joy to know that my grandmother is in Heaven today without pain.

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