A Baby is Born as a Grandmother Says Goodbye
CATEGORY: News and Community; Philanthropy
It was a day of sadness and hope. A bittersweet day where a family rejoiced the birth of a first son and mourned the death of a beloved grandmother of 10.
On Jan. 22, 2014, just 18 hours after Wyatt Troyer entered this world, his great-grandmother, Barbara Milota passed away. Wyatt’s mother, Sara Troyer, doesn’t find the timing coincidental.
Sara and her husband Jeff married in 2008. In 2009, the couple, along with Barbara, moved from Avon Lake to a North Ridgeville house. In September of 2013, when Sara was 5 months pregnant, Barbara was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, which had metastasized.
“She moved in with my aunt,” Sara said. “I couldn’t physically help her anymore.”
The family approached Barbara, who was diagnosed just months after her 75th birthday, with the concept of hospice care and was initially met with resistance.
“She thought it was for people who were just about to die; I had to explain to her that wasn’t the case,” Sara said. Barbara immediately began receiving at-home hospice care as Sara’s pregnancy moved along.
“For me, it was ‘beat the clock,’” she said. “She didn’t have much time;
probably less than 6 months. I was due in February. I wondered, ‘Is she going to be able to see him?’”
Sara and Jeff Troyer with baby Wyatt.
By January of 2014, Barbara’s health had deteriorated and she was moved to Hospice of the Western Reserve’s Ames Family Hospice House in Westlake.
“I would go and visit her every day at Ames,” Sara said. “While I was there (on Jan. 21), my water broke.”
It proved to be the last time she would see her grandmother.
“I went home and called my husband Jeff and we went to the hospital. Wyatt was born in the middle of the night on Jan. 22. My aunts were present and took photos and video of Wyatt cooing and making baby noises.”
The aunts, Kelly Smith and Kim Hastings, went to see Barbara at Ames Family Hospice House hours after Wyatt was born, and brought along the video of Wyatt. Although her eyes were closed, Barbara heard the sound of her third great-grandchild cooing, and a single tear rolled down her face.
Later that night, she passed away. Sara felt her grandmother was waiting for Wyatt’s birth before she died. A week before she went into labor, Sara had visited her grandmother who had been unresponsive for weeks.
“I knew I had to talk to her,” Sara said. “I knew I had to tell her it was okay. She looked at me. I told her it was time to go home. She knew.”
In a rare lucid moment, Barbara turned to Sarah and said, “If you want me to go, I’ll go.”
“I told her, ‘Your job is to make sure Wyatt gets here safely. I told her not be scared. That was the last time I was able to talk with her. After she knew Wyatt was born, she knew he was here and safe and acknowledged it with a tear. Then she let go.”
One year later, a happy and healthy Wyatt may be too young to understand the connection he has to his grandmother, but that bond will be honored with a party to celebrate both lives on Jan. 31. It will be a day not only to honor Barbara, but to give back also.
Instead of hosting a traditional first birthday party, the Troyers will be asking guests at the party at The Landings Party Center in Avon Lake to bring donations for Hospice of the Western Reserve.
Recommended donations include X-Box and WII games (including used) for pediatric hospice e patients and children visiting relatives in hospice care, gas cards in small amounts ($10), Wendy’s or McDonald’s gift cards (small amounts), money for families in need to use at the Ames Family Hospice House café, cozy/loose-fitting socks for hospice patients, 1 gallon Zip-Loc bags, cooling racks for baking in the Family Kitchen, small “patient pampering baskets” with travel size samples of hypoallergenic hand creams and lip balms, a few pretty barrettes, a pocket comb, a terrycloth turban for “bad hair days,” and nail polish.