Tuesday, 3 January 2012

What a Sweetie

My last remaining grandparent died last night peacefully in her sleep. Here is what my mum wrote in an email to friends and I could not say it any better:

Ruth Elizabeth Crow Tisdale, known far and wide as Sweetie Tisdale, died peacefully in her sleep this afternoon.   She was 92, and had been under hospice care for about a week and a half.    Her main caretakers, Sherry (Garry's sister) and her daughter Teresa were with her.    It was a sweet death, in that she was not in pain and had said all her good-byes.   On Monday last she stayed awake for about 15 hrs straight, talking all day.   She visited individually with each of her siblings and  Mama Crow, her own mom, as well as Garry and Terri, the two children who died before her.    She seemed very animated and chatty with them all.   This is pretty true to what one reads about "near-death experiences."    After that, she fell into a deep sleep and has been that way till today when she just stopped breathing.    

She had lived in her own home until the time she went to the hospice house.   In the past couple of years, her memory had declined a lot, but she managed with having someone from the family staying with her.   We will miss our rascally Sweetie----who is no doubt arguing with the archangels over what's the right way to do something...........and at the same time having a great ole visit with all her many many friends and relatives.   And Heather and Thomas and I all think if anyone is allowed to get away with saying "shit" in heaven, it will be her privilege.    Up until her early 80s she was still the only one at her church who climbed the huge ladder to put the star on top of the Christmon Tree.

She was a funny and spirited lady with a big heart who cared for so many in her community. She was forever working in the food bank at her church or baking pies for those who were poorly or delivering food for Meals on Wheels. All while drinking Doctor Pepper and saying “shit” a lot. She was a character that is for sure. I can recall when she was in her 60s her telling me about visiting “all those old people” through Meals on Wheels and cackling her wicked laugh. She loved fishing and up until perhaps her 70s was an avid walker and did 2 miles after dinner every night through their neighbourhood. She adored antiques and her house is like a museum with so many things to see all over the walls. She also loved to play jokes—one called “feed the crow” comes to mind. If you put your pointer and middle finger on each hand together in a cross hatch shape and then ask some unsuspecting person to put their finger in the hole and “feed then crow.” Then quickly tighten the crosshatch and use your thumb nails to pinch the victim’s finger and laugh and say “Those little crows are biting today!” I fell for it time and time again because she would look at you with the most serious eyes and swear that if you put your finger in the crosshatch she would not pinch this time. And like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football and Lucy pulling it away—I fell for it EVERY TIME. Once I even told my younger cousin Bailey to “go ask Sweetie if you can feed the crow.” I am so going to hell for that.

She was a funny and big hearted woman who weighed all of 100 pounds dripping wet. I am glad in the end she was seeing her sisters and brothers and my dad Garry and her husband, my PawPaw, and her daughter Terri who died so long ago at the age of 5 from leukemia. It is comforting to know that all those whom we love are waiting for us on the other side.

Sweetie, I am glad to have known you and to have been part of your family. I am sure you are organizing Heaven and having a big laugh. I will miss you.   


  1. Always a quilter. They lined all the pews for the family's seating, plus all the benches in the church social hall...........must have been over 50 quilts on display, not counting the many, many pictures. Many stories were told, and there was much laughter and remembering. The minister even told about her "favorite word" and that Jesus was teasing her about that as he spoke. There was much much love there today. I don't know when I've ever had such a wonderful time at a funeral. It was truly truly a celebration, not a mournful thing.

  2. It is really refreshing to know that a funeral can be a joyous occasion. I so hope that there is a big gathering for mine and there are wonderful memories shared and most of all, good fellowship over wonderful food. I want cymbals to clang and horns to blow and a seriously joyful noise to be made to the Lord. Music on top of joyous music, all praising the lord. Go home with a smile on your face and peace in your heart because I will be in that place of perfect peace.

  3. Really nice to be re-reading this again. I think about your grandparents---Cecil&Susie and Sweetie--- and realize that our lives were a lot like "characters in Southern Literature," as Dr. Taylor said at Cecil's funeral. Only Sweetie's Cecil, your dear PawPaw, was calm and steady and mild and gentle. The rest were definitely loveable rascals.