Rest in Peace, Madge

Last week on September 16, my paternal grandmother, Madge Lorene Carmack Thompson, died in a hospital in Missouri, surrounded by her sons. She was 78 years old and had been battling cancer. I had the opportunity to attend her memorial service in Missouri on Sunday. As I perused the display my father had set up to honor her, complete with pictures and wine and letters and recipes and flowers, I could not hold back my tears. The service had not yet begun, and I was responsible for all of the music, but my eyes were blurred with tears an my throat was thick. I realized just how much I would miss her.

Madge Carmack was born on July 21, 1937.

Madge Thompson


The last time I spoke with her was on July 21, 2015. I had called her for her birthday. We had one of our familiar conversations. She was alert and sounded better than she had in quite a while. She asked about my children. We ended our conversation with something we always said to each other each time we talked: “I enjoyed talking with you. We need to do it more often!”

In those words, I felt the friendship of my grandmother. She was always delighted to speak with me. She always had witty reminiscences and helped me not to feel so bad about things with my mother. She got me through some of the most difficult times with my mother. She listened. She was interested in me. She loved me.

I remember the time we traveled to Paris together. She walked slowly, and I had tweaked my knee a bit on all of the stairs and because of all of the walking around the city. I limped a little, and together my dad dubbed us the “invalides.”

europe 2008 623


When I learned of her passing, I immediately cried. I spent several hours crying. When I went to the school to pick up my children and a neighbor girl, I’m sure I looked quite a fright. I had no makeup. I had not bothered with my hair that day. My eyes were puffy and red-rimmed.

The neighbor girl came over about an hour later with a plate of cookies and her mother. They expressed their condolences to me, and her mother confessed that it had been her daughter’s idea, as she noted upon arriving home that I looked “really sad.”

I ate a few of those delicious cookies, and then, while putting them away in a large, sturdy tupperware container, I remembered another moment in which my grandma had touched my life. She had sent me cookies in that exact container, some years earlier. We had talked on the phone, and she had ended that conversation by saying that she would sent me cookies. She did, and they arrived in that container, which I kept because of its usefulness. It isn’t a special container, but last week it was because it reminded me of my grandma and her many acts of kindness.

I will miss you, Grandma. It was hard to say goodbye. God be with you until we meet again.


44 thoughts on “Rest in Peace, Madge

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  1. I’m sorry for your loss.You have wonderful memories to share with your family. I lost my mom last December at age 80. She lived 3 or 4 days past her birthday. She never thought she’d make it that far!

    1. I’m sorry she actually lived 2 weeks past her birthday. 4 days after she was hospitalized with a brain bleed/stroke on Thanksgiving Day.

    2. Thank you, Lorraine. I’m sorry for your loss as well. It seems like it is harder to lose a parent, and I know it has been hard on my dad and my uncles.

  2. What a beautiful tribute, Emily! It has been almost 20 years since my own grandmother died. She basically raised me, which was very fortunate, and Not a day goes by but I think of her and her love many times. She is still helping me cope… 😀 Ack! You’ve made me cry with my grateful memories of that love! 😀 I try to celebrate just that when she enters my mind.

    1. Grandmothers are special, aren’t they? How wonderful that you had such a close relationship with yours and that you have such nice memories. It hurts to miss those wonderful people!

  3. Beautiful post – cherish the memories ((((hugs)))).

    I miss the grandmas in my life, however; I know they are around when I see a Cardinal or a Violet. I even pray to them for guidance and assurance. I was thinking about the one grandma this past weekend while touring the Fine Arts Museum and that she would have love the Asian art section. The other grandma would have loved the gardens – the Birds of Paradise here are in full bloom.

    Take Care

  4. It’s nice that you have good memories of your grandmother, and that your children will also remember her, at least a little. I was crying just reading your post, thinking about you and your grandmother as well as my own grandparents. It’s the little things that still, after many years, will bring them back. It’s nice to ‘have them back’ every once in a while. Hugs.

    1. Thank you! She is definitely still with me. I wonder if she is really the one responsible for those cookies. AND, at the memorial service dinner, my youngest daughter wanted chocolate milk, but we discouraged her saying that none would be there. The ladies in the kitchen checked the fridge, and sure enough there was a half gallon of chocolate milk in there. They had no idea how it got in there. Another lady remarked that it was grandma, making sure my little one got what she wanted! 🙂

  5. Emily, I am sorry for your loss. What a great picture of you two. That is one to cherish. I think when you said she was always glad to hear from me, you said it all. Take care, Keith

      1. And, you resemble her younger picture. Maybe she saw in you the younger version of herself. Best wishes on remembering the joys in her life, especially those you shared together. Keith

    1. That is the part that is hardest. She was still young. When she was diagnosed, she told me that she would beat this and live 20 more years. Her parents lived a lot longer than she did, so she thought she could do what they did. I wish she had.

  6. Emily, this is a wonderful tribute to your friendship with your Grandmother. I’m sorry you’re hurting and I’m so glad you had such a great relationship with her. Tupperware is the best memento!

  7. I’m so sorry for your loss, Emily. I was wondering if you were okay as I hadn’t seen any blog posts from you for a while. I’m sorry there is a sad reason for that. Sending thoughts and sympathy across the ocean to you and your family.

  8. Emily, I was wondering why you had been quiet on the blog front. Now I know the very good reason why. Grandparents can be such a beautiful gift to us, especially when they are real wise, ‘elder’ figures in our lives. May your grandma rest in the Lord’s peace. We can see she will always have a place in your heart. Go gently over these days and weeks.

  9. Emily,
    I am sorry you lost your grandmother. It sounds like the two of you were close.
    I was surprised how much I grieved after my grandmother died — she had had Alzheimer’s for years. But the grandparent/grandchild relationship is something very special.
    My condolences to you and your family.

  10. So very sorry to hear of your grandmother’s passing. She must have been the Missouri grandmother you visited last spring, when you went to the Laura Ingalls Wilder house. She seems like such a kind and loving person. How lucky you were to have her in your life! Doing the music for her memorial service was a beautiful tribute, even though it surely must have been very hard for you.

    1. Thank you, Katherine. Yes, she was the grandma I visited in the spring. It was nice to do the music, but I wish she would have been there to hear it. The last time I visited, she organized a “concert” of me playing the piano at the nursing home where she was being cared for. She ended up being the only attendee, ha ha, but she always supported that part of my life!

  11. We’ve had a loss in my family recently so I’m just now reading older blog posts in my wordpress reader. I am so sorry for your loss. My mamaw passed away two years ago and I still miss her very much, can’t believe she’s not here. It sounds like your grand mother was a wonderful lady and that you had a beautiful relationship with her. God bless you both.

    1. Blessings to you as well! I’m sorry to hear about your mom. I know it is a hard thing to lose a parent, and it has been hard seeing my dad struggle with that grief.

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