A tribute to my loving grandmother, Tutu


My grandmother, called Tutu by all her grandchildren, passed away on Sunday morning after a long and courageous battle with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).  Tutu was a beautiful, loving and spirited woman, and our family will miss her dearly.  However, we are grateful that she is now with her Maker, and no longer has to struggle to breathe!

About three weeks ago, after having spent three and a half months in the hospital, Tutu decided that she was too tired to continue fighting COPD.  She had battled it for over five years, and decided that she was ready to move on.  She moved to Houston Hospice, and was under the most wonderful and gracious care.  The nurses and doctors at Houston Hospice did such a beautiful job serving her and my family, and attended to Tutu’s every need.  We are so grateful for the care she was given, and that she was able to leave us in such a beautiful place.

Tutu was never one to get down, and always met life’s struggles with courage and great spirit.  She twice overcame breast cancer, and even through her battle with COPD, she never complained.  She always kept a positive attitude, and loved all those around her with her whole heart.  Tutu loved having a good time, and she made sure to carry that spirit with her until the very last days of her life.  After checking into hospice, it didn’t take but a couple hours before Tutu had requested a martini (a long time favorite drink) to be made by her favorite bar tender, Kani (the grandchildren name for her husband).  We spent the next several days having “parties” with Tutu.  She brought together our entire family these past weeks in hospice, and we were given the great gift of celebrating her beautiful life together.  She set an incredible example and continued to teach me about life, all the way up to her passing over the weekend.

I have so many wonderful and loving memories of my grandmother, and I am so grateful for the many years I was blessed with her presence.  I am going to miss her very much.  However, I am extremely grateful that she is now in peace, in the full presence of Jesus Christ.

I’ve decided to post a couple photos that I’ve taken over the years in honor of Tutu.  The first photo is a landscape that I took in Montana in the summer of 2005.  Tutu had just been diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time, and we didn’t know what was going to happen.  I went out to photograph one evening, and was thinking a lot about Tutu.  I looked up and saw this beautiful moment, where the sun was setting over a hill.  It was so heavenly, and a great peace overcame me.  I exposed the film just as the sun was going behind the hill.  I named the print “Tutu’s Hill,” when I got home and printed it later that summer.

Tutu's Hill-Summer 2005

This next photo I took a couple months ago in my parent’s home.  Tutu had to spend a lot of time in the hospital between December and March.  While she was there, my mom was washing her clothes and gowns.  I was walking through their house one morning when I saw this scene.  There was a quiet beauty to the moment, soft and sweet.  While there is a certain sadness to this scene, an obvious emptiness to the hanging robes, I don’t feel that it is overpowering.  As soon as I notice that the hanging robes are alone, without their adorner, the soft and gentle light from the window warms the scene, and takes my soul to a peaceful place.  I consider this to be my last portrait of Tutu.  She did not really like to be photographed during her struggle with COPD, as the medicines she was on made her gain some wait and caused her skin to be very fragile.  I am grateful that this photo appeared, and for the beauty and peace that it represents to me.

Thank you, Tutu, for all of the love you poured into my life, and into our family.