On Sunday, January 9, 2011 my Grammie took her last earthly breath and entered into the Kingdom of Heaven. She was greeted there by her husband, John, her parents and all of her friends and family members that have gone before her. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I miss my Grammie; although I began missing her long before she passed away. Several years ago Alzheimer’s Disease took a hold of my Grammie and sadly, it never let go.
I was able to speak at my Grammie’s service on Friday.. and something I should have said that I didn’t, I will share here.
To my mom & Aunt Connie – Grammie sure was lucky to have the two of you! You both have walked with her through every single step of this disease – from her initial diagnosis to sitting by her side as she passed on to Heaven. It was an incredibly sad, painful and depressing journey but neither of you turned your backs. I admire your strength and selflessness. Even though Grammie had caregivers you still made it a point to go and feed her dinner every day, help her into bed, make sure she was comfortable and do whatever other tasks were necessary. You ladies went above and beyond taking care of Grammie and even taking care of other residents at Ware. I am certain Grammie is incredibly proud of both of you and is extremely grateful for all you did for her through her battle with Alzheimer’s. The road ahead without her will be hard but as long as we stick together we’ll be okay.
As a young girl I spent a lot of time with my Grammie. I slept at her house regularly and even spent an entire summer with her while my mom was in the hospital. I have so many incredible memories of my Grammie!
The following is what I read at Grammie’s service [and after reading it I realized how much I talk about food – no wonder I was so chubby as a kid!] -
The time has come to say goodbye and although my heart rejoices because you are healed and are no longer burdened by such a sad disease I do miss you terribly. There are very few granddaughters who have shared such special times with their grandmothers as I have. Oh Grammie, such beautiful memories I have..
Remember how you always used put my blanket in the dryer so it was nice and toasty warm before bed.. and you did the same with my towel after my bath. And before I’d fall asleep at night you’d either rub or scratch my back – you’d always let me decide which I preferred ;) My school lunch was always packed to the brim - full of a Lebanon bologna, cheese and ketchup sandwich with the crust cut off, extra pickles double bagged so they wouldn’t leak, a yummy treat you let me pick out that morning, milk money and a special note in your beautiful handwriting! After school was over I loved knowing you’d be waiting for me at the bus stop and there would always be a fun snack and a diet coke for me in the car! We’d stop at the Turkey Hill in Cochranville to get your lottery tickets for that night and my favorite frozen yogurt if you were running low at home. You always played the number 309 in the ‘daily 3’ 7 p.m. drawing, so I got you a lottery ticket for tonight's drawing, and I have one too! Before bed I’d enjoy a bowl full of mint chocolate frozen yogurt with cherries or skittles on top.. or sometimes both! When it was time for bed you and I always slept together in the living room.. you in your recliner and me on the couch.. even though we each had our own room with our own bed! And before you’d warm my blanket at night you’d hang a paper towel over the window on the door so the sun wouldn’t shine through and wake me in the morning. You always thought of the little details. I remember when you volunteered at the snack bar and gift shop at Jennersville Hospital and I’d go to help. You’d always let me have a french bread pizza, a crunch bar and some birch beer. When we’d get a customer you’d test my math skills and make me count their change ;) Perkins was a favorite dinner spot for us – but before we’d get there, if Aunt Connie was joining us we’d play the car game.. you’d slow way down so Aunt Connie could pass then she’d slow way down so we could pass.. it seems so silly but it brings such a smile to my face now! You’d make sure the waitress at Perkins knew to bring me extra pickles with my grilled cheese and of course, extra cherries with my vanilla ice cream. After our meal I’d get to pay the bill and put the change into the swirly change funnel. Sometimes we’d drop our coins into the change funnel at the same time and we’d watch them race until we heard them drop and join the other coins below. I remember in 6th grade you drove me all over Chester County searching for the perfect starter jacket.. you knew how badly I wanted one to fit in with all of my friends and we weren’t going home that night without one! Around that time Full House and Home Improvement were two of my favorite shows – you’d tape each episode so I could watch them whenever I wanted. I’m sure you had to be tired of those two shows but you never let me know it! Oh Grammie, remember the car wash? You knew how cool I thought that car wash was and even though your car would be spotless we’d drive through anyway! The last special memory you and I shared was when I came to be by your side after learning you’d soon be meeting Jesus. Right after I arrived, I grabbed your hand, bent down and told you quietly to run to Jesus and run to Grampie, as soon as you see them you run to them. As I was standing up to give you a kiss you winked at me. I knew at that moment, through your wink, you knew I was there with you. These marvelous memories we shared will always hold a special place in my heart and I know they will live on in your heart as well. These memories will help me through your passing and will continue to encourage me to be the shining light of your spirit.
I always felt so special and loved because of all the thoughtful things you did for me. I don’t know that I could ever express through words the enormous amount gratitude I have for all you have done for me and for my family. You were always there to share the joyous moments of my life; only making those joyous times even more meaningful. You’ve helped shape me into the woman I am today and I will be forever indebted to you.
Kind, polite, gracious, selfless, thoughtful, patient and genuine are just a few of the characteristics that describe you. I hope when the time comes for me to be a Grammie I can be half as good a Grammie to my grandchildren as you were to me. For all eternity I will treasure our times together both before and after Alzheimer’s. I am so thankful that my husband and all three of my children were able to meet you. That means the world to me and is truly a dream come true. Gavin, Gabrielle and Gage will always know about you, their very special GG – about your beautiful spirit, your perfect smile, your loving heart, your unfailing faith and your thoughtful ways.
Through Jesus Christ we are promised eternal life and I know when I enter into heaven you will be there waiting for me. I cannot wait to run to you; as I am certain you will be waiting with a jar of cherries and a toasty warm blanket! I love you & will miss you always.