Thursday, January 15, 2009


So today is January 15. I guess that means it's a holiday for some in the US. I never really thought about it, but I guess we don't celebrate the birth of the "great" MLK here. And somehow the world keeps revolving. How we manage without that holiday, I'll never know. :-) January 15 has always been important to our family for another reason though -- it is the day my late grandma was born. If she was still here with us, she would be 68 years old today. Hmmmm, I wonder if she would want me broadcasting that fact if she were here?? :)

I loved my grandma. Lung cancer took her at much too early of an age (61). I wasn't close to my grandma all my life, we visited now and then when we were kids. I don't really know how or why that changed, but my brother Matt and I started doing lots of things with my grandparents when we were probably 12 and 13. They would take us to fairs and malls and carnivals and it was so great to have that time with them. In the next couple years, when they started getting sicker, I would tag along to their doctor's appointments. I was 16 when my grandpa died in 1999. By that time, my grandma wasn't in that great of health herself, so my parents and Matt and I moved in with her in March 2000. Those two years were full of learning -- they say you really get to know someone when you live with them. Good and bad, you see it all. Through the good times and the hard times, I think we were able to grow closer as a family. Now that I look back, I think we were incredibly blessed to have that time with her before she passed away.

I wasn't home in PA when she died -- I was in my second semester of freshman year at PCC. I didn't know it would happen so soon. We (Andy, Jeanette, and I) had just been home in January and she seemed weaker but nothing that made me think she would die soon. My mom took care of her at home until the very end. She passed away February 17, 2002. I remember when my brother and sister and I got the news at college -- I cried and cried and cried. I wasn't there, and I wanted to be. We couldn't really afford plane tickets home, so the three of us missed her funeral. It still makes me sad to think I couldn't be there.

Here we are, almost seven years later. It hardly seems it has been that long. There are so many memories, and we still laugh about them together as a family. Certain things always remind me of her -- lighthouses, golden retrievers, smiley faces, All My Children..... She really was the best grandma!!

Here are some things I love to remember about my grandma.

1. She always sent me little cards and packages at school to let me know she was thinking about me. I still have most of the cards.

2. She was so proud of the fact that I was going to be a nurse. Whenever she went for her chemo treatments, she would tell everyone there that I was studying to be a nurse. Now I am, although she didn't get to see that.

3. SHE comforted ME when my grandpa died. I remember crying and crying, and she put her arm around me and told me that my grandpa had loved me and everything was going to be ok. Even when she was grieving herself, she took the time to make sure I was all right.

4. We lived at her house during the Who Wants to Be a Millionaire phenomenon. Every night it was on, she and I would watch it together. It was so fun trying to answer the questions and yelling at the dumb contestants.

5. We used to have a football pool at our house every year. Every week, we all would pick what teams we thought would win their game that week. When we moved in with my grandma, we kept up the tradition and she joined right in. It was so much fun to watch her check the scores every week to see how she did.

6. Every Thanksgiving, we had a huge meal, played lots of games, and watched football and the Macy's parade. I have such great memories of Thanksgiving at Grandma's house.

7. She knew how to stand up for herself!! Even though she wasn't very big, she made sure people (usually waitresses or customer service people) knew when she wasn't happy about something. This caused embarrassment to us on several occasions, but now it's just a funny memory. There was this one time when she had to take up some issue with the neighbor (over stealing wayward trash cans, I believe), and she just marched over there and confronted him. (I think my sister probably remembers this -- remember the Mickey Mouse jumper?? :)

8. I collected Beanie Babies back in the day (still have most of them), and one time she took me and my aunt to a Beanie Baby convention at some hotel in the area. I couldn't believe it -- it was like a little heaven of stuffed toys. She patiently helped me find the ones I wanted for my collection.

There are so many things I could write about my grandma. I just thought I would share a few since today is her birthday. Here are a couple of pictures. They're pretty poor quality (scans), but they're the only ones I have on my computer. The first is of Matt, my grandma, and me around Christmas, 1999, I believe. The second one is of me and my grandma on the day of my high school graduation (June 2000). I wish she could have stayed around to watch me graduate from college, and see me get married. But it wasn't to be. Happy Birthday, Grandma!! I love you and miss you very much.


Kay said...

1. cute post missy! I love that things can remin us of those who are gone.

2. I have all my beanies too.. its somewhat tragic how many i have!

3. your grandma would be 68? Thats how old my mom turns in April! gah!

Melissa said...

I just can't seem to get rid of them. Every time I think I want to, I'll think of all the special people I got them from as gifts, and then I don't want to anymore!! Plus they're just so cute. Haha, I'm a loser. :)

P.S. I had a very young Grandma, she was just 15 when she had my mom. :)

Kay said...

Ugh... they occupy a giant tub in a crawlspace. I'd sell them but then I get attachemtn issues! haha.

Wow... 15!? Well, My bf lives with his gma and she's 65! ahhh! lol. His dad is 8 years older than my oldest bro!

Jeanette "Frogster" said...

awwww. . . thanks for writing so sweetly about all our Grandma memories.
I was thinking about her too this morning and feeling really sad that we missed her funeral. A few days ago I was organizing my memory boxes and I came across a letter she had written me at college the November before she passed away. I think I'll be holding onto that one a little tighter now...
And yes I remember the Mickey Mouse jumper!

Kristi said...

People ask us every year if my children will be off for MLK Day. Uhh, no. We do not celebrate him. But I will gladly celebrate your grandmother with you! I know you miss her.

Those were sweet pics of her and y'all.


Anne said...

This was a really sweet post! You have such good memories, which are a treasure now.

I lived with my grandpa for 4 years, which was just great! And I was in Thailand in 2007 when my grandma died, so I know how you feel not being able to get home to attend the funeral.

By the way, your pictures are cute:).

MyKidsMom said...

Today was Martin Luther King Day? I wondered why I didn't get any mail;)

Sweet memories and pics of your grandma. It's a blessing you were able to get to know her as you grew older. Thanks for sharing.