Grandma's Last Message

A few years ago, I was on a 15-minute break while working at Disneyland, and I checked my phone.  I had a text from my sister, that read:

"Grandma Hales was just hit by a car -- she's dying."

Instantly I felt like I had just been punched in the gut.  Grandma was the nicest person I knew -- always giving to others and showing love to everyone she met.  She loved books, and read me story after story whenever I visited her home as a child.  She was a pioneer in her younger days, being among the first local women to go to college, and then dedicated her life to teaching and helping others.  And she was in perfect health.

Grandma always read with me.

I called my sister to get more information.  Apparently a driver in a shopping center parking lot was briefly distracted by something (not a cell phone -- police made sure of that), and didn't see my grandma walking toward the store entrance.  My sister and my dad arrived at the hospital just in time to watch her slip away from this life.

Media around the state followed the story.

I was devastated.  I lived a few states away from my grandma.  When was the last time I gave her a hug or sat down and had a conversation with her?  Eight, nine months ago?  Longer than that?  Did I ever even tell her what she meant to me?

I was excused from the rest of the week from work to travel back to Utah to be with my family for the funeral, and even though we felt peace through our faith and belief that we would someday see her again after this life, we were still very, very sad.  To be honest, we had all been preparing for Grandpa to go first.  His health was declining, and Grandma was the one who helped him put his socks on in the morning.  But in just an instant, she was gone.

My brother Dallin and I with Grandpa at Grandma's funeral.

After returning home to California, I couldn't shake the sadness I felt.  I missed my grandma, and I worried that she never knew how much she meant to me.  Normally a "tough girl" who doesn't give way to tears, this time I had a hard time keeping my eyes dry at all.

As a believer in God, I got on my knees and asked the Lord for help and comfort, and to tell my grandma how much she meant to me.  I then felt calm, but still couldn't shake the sadness.

A few days later, something happened to change that.

A package wrapped in "Happy Birthday" paper suddenly showed up in the mail, addressed to me from my.... grandma, written in her handwriting. Confused, I looked it up and down.  My birthday was 7 months ago... why (and how) was I getting a birthday present now? 

Then I noticed the postmark date -- two and a half years earlier.  It had been lost in the mail all this time.

I received the package October 22, 2009, when it was mailed March 5, 2007 (three days before my birthday).

I opened it up to find children's books she used to read to me, along with a few small gifts and a card with a $20 bill attached, telling me how much she and Grandpa loved me and were proud of me.  Instantly "tough girl" tears welled up in my eyes again.  This was exactly what I needed.  The package was two and a half years late, and yet perfectly on time.  

Two children's books in the package.  At my request, Grandma read me "Millions of Cats"
over and over and over again when I was a kid.

Sometimes things happen in our lives that seem like coincidences, but perhaps it's through these "catered coincidences" that a Higher Power speaks to us or lets us know He's there.  All I know is that from that moment, though I still missed my grandma, I finally felt the peace and comfort I had been searching for, and I'm so grateful for that.  

On this Mother's Day, I'm left pondering just how much the relationships with those who love and raise us truly affect our lives.  I love my grandma so much, but perhaps didn't express it enough while I had her with me.  At the same time, I love my mom so much -- I've been so blessed to have a mother who was an incredible example of kindness and talent as she raised my three siblings and me, and I probably don't tell her how much she means to me, either.

Me, Mom, & my brother James at the Lagoon 10K (my mom came to cheer us on, as usual) - April 2015

So Mom, if you're reading this (you could be my only reader, haha), I want to make sure you know that you are an amazing person who has blessed my life so much, and I love you!

Mom and me in 1985.

To this day, the card from my grandma still hangs on my wall as a reminder of her love and the "catered coincidence" that told me more than a card could say.  

Happy Mother's Day to all the amazing mothers and grandmothers out there -- you mean more to us than you'll probably ever know.


  1. Thanks for sharing such a special story Jo and for making me feel special as well. I love you so much! :)

  2. What a story! That made me cry it was so sweet. What a wonderful blessing a surprise to receive just when you needed it. Thanks for sharing Jolie :)


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