THE FAMILY ALBUM: Grandma Donna

Thirty years ago, today, at 2:15 PM, my grandmother, Donna Mae Clary Barmes, passed from this world into the next.

Grandma Donna was living with my parents and youngest siblings at our South A Street residence in Elwood, Indiana. She had battled chronic lymphatic leukemia since its diagnosis in 1978 and had really done quite well in handling it. In April 1992, after she and Mother visited me in Dayton to check out the new house on Floral Avenue in The McPherson District, she began battling little infections and other discomforts. On Mother’s Day, I visited Grandma Donna at the hospital where she was battling pneumonia. As we sat talking, she seemed distant and not connected which was not her character at all.

June 8th, she was home and was a bit listless, according to Mother. It was the fifth anniversary of her son’s passing, my Uncle Ron. Several days later, she called her father and several friends, chatting for several hours, each. That night, while sitting at the dinner table, she collapsed and was rushed to the hospital. Within a few hours, Grandma Donna was on 100% life support. Exploratory surgery revealed colon cancer and several other things. The specialists concurred that she could not survive.

Saturday morning, July 27th, we gathered around her bed for the final farewells. We left the room as the life-supporting machines were removed. Her very strong kept the process from its intended course. At 1:45 PM, after conferring with the medical team, the only medical device attached was the ventilator.

2:15 PM, the heart monitor, after drastic slowing down, finally beat no more. The line was flattened.

While June has sported the much remembered and celebrated birthdays of Anna Greenlee Jones, my second great-grandmother, Virgil Barmes, my great-grandfather, Debbie Riser Fox, my cousin, and Parker Haas, my nephew, the month of June is also remembered for the passing of both my grandparents, Donna and Leroy Barmes, and two cherished uncles, Garry Jolliff and Ronald Barmes.

This thirtieth-year anniversary could be sad, but Grandma Donna was about faith, laughter, practical jokes, and even more laughter. Being sad just doesn’t fit in with the theme of remembering Grandma Donna, nor my grandfather and uncles. We’re not the somber kind. We celebrate and we laugh.

I do immensely miss the darling soul, but I treasure all that she passed on to me, especially the laughter and always finding the bright side of things in life, never the shabby. “If something is shabby, brighten it up!”

Thank you, Grandma Donna, for just being you and for giving all of us so much of your bright spirit that continues down to all your great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

Know you are still loved, very much…

About Wright Flyer Guy

Darin is a single adoptive father, a teacher, playwright, and musical theatre director from Kettering, Ohio.
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