It is with mixed emotions that I announce that Frank’s 101 year old grandmother passed away Friday night. Mixed emotions because although we didn’t want to see her go, we know that she is in a better place than we are. She is in Heaven now, reuniting with all the family members she had to say goodbye to through the years. Plus, she is with her husband, whom she said goodbye to on this earth some 20+ years ago. It gives me a good feeling inside, knowing that she is able to be with the loved ones that have already passed away and be in the presence of God Almighty. What an awesome sight that must be.
It is never easy losing a loved one, but when you think about it, we grieve for ourselves more than for them. We resort back to being a 5-year-old and in our grief we are really saying “It’s not fair. I won’t get to see them again. I won’t get to talk with them again. What will I do without them?” Do you notice the word I being used a lot? That is because our natural instincts is to think about ourselves first and others second. But that is not what God wants us to do. He wants us to think about others first and not worry about ourselves at all. By doing that, we are letting God step in and take care of us like only a father can.
I am only 43 and I can’t imagine living until I’m 70, let alone live until I’m 101. I often tell people that I will probably be dead before Christopher graduates from high school and he is only 2. So I guess I am predicting that I will be dead by the time I am 59, that’s pretty sad when you think about it. The truth is, no one knows when we will leave this world, only God knows. So we need to live our lives with the attitude that tomorrow may not come. We need to tell the people we love how we feel about them. However, that is easier said than done in this world of distractions and conflict. But that means we just have to put more effect into reaching out to one another.
In the past 48 hours I have read many touching tributes to Frank’s Grandma that I would like to share with you. She was everything I hope to be in my old age. She was a real go getter. She was a little Italian Grandmother and when I say little, I’m not kidding. She was only around 4 foot 7 inches tall, however, she was mighty. 🙂 My husband and I often joked about how she reminded us of Estelle Getty from the TV show The Golden Girls and Olympia Dukakis from the movie Steel Magnolias. She was very classy looking, even in her old age. Always had her hair fixed and her makeup on. I could always expect to have some red lipstick residue on my cheek after she had kissed me.
She was a devout Catholic woman who loved to say “God Bless You” to everyone she met. In fact, my sister and her family had only met her once at my wedding and when I told her yesterday that Grandma had passed away she told me, “My family always refer to her as ‘Grandma God bless you’, because when we met her at your wedding, she just kept telling everyone God bless you.” LOL My sister is right, that was her normal response to most things and I don’t think it was just a phrase for her, I think she really meant it. 🙂
Up until the last couple years or so, Grandma had lived on her own in the house that I believe Frank’s dad and aunt grew up in, but I could be wrong about that. She was an independent woman who had a very busy life. When I told my dad recently that Grandma was showing signs of dying he reminded me again of the conversation that he had with Grandma at my wedding. He always chuckles when he tells me, “She told me that she had been a widow for more than 20 years. And every Sunday for the past 20-some years; I go to mass in the morning, then I go out to my husband’s grave to talk to him and then I go out to eat. Every Sunday, for 20-some years.” lol We always joke about the fact that she might have told my dad that because she was getting tired of the same routine. But I really think it was her way of telling him that she missed her husband and had never forgotten him. So it makes me happy to know that she has been reunited with her best friend again. My husband said it best the other day when he said, “I know that Grandma is up in Heaven, Dancing in the Moonlight with Grandpa once again.”
When she was in her 90’s, she would tell us how gentlemen at the church Bingo night would ask her out to eat. She would have this big smile on her face, so you know she was tickled by the whole thing, but she would tell us, “I can’t be going out with other men, I only loved one man and that was your grandfather.” When she was still living on her own, she would go on bus trips with a senior citizen group to gamble at Atlantic City. If you haven’t guessed by now, she lived on the East Coast about an hours drive from both of her kids. The first time I met her best friend Dottie, I thought that grandma was younger than her friend. Come to find out, Dottie was about 10 years younger and yet Grandma was the one that looked like she was the spring chicken of the pair in both actions and looks. lol
She was one tough cookie, which is no surprise after you think of all the things she lived through. One of her Great Grandkids said it best: “Living through 3 World Wars, prohibition, women getting the right to vote, the discovery of penicillin, Pearl Harbor, Vietnam, the invention of computers, cell phones and the internet, 9/11, Iraq and the naming of the 1st black president…it’s safe to say my Nona lived a very full and fruitful 101 years of life. I will miss you every day.” (By the way, Nona is the Italian word for Grandma.)
When Grandma had a little fender bender with a stop sign a few years back, it was decided that she would move in with her daughter and son-in-law. I was very afraid that Grandma would die relatively soon after that, because she was so independent and I didn’t think she could handle losing all that freedom. Thankfully for us she didn’t, she was able to meet her youngest two great-grandchildren in the summer of 2012. We have great pictures of her and the kids and although Christopher might not remember her when he grows up, we can show him that he did meet her when he was little.
The last few weeks, when it was apparent that Grandma was slowly going down hill, I had spoken to Frank’s Aunt many times. I told her about my mom’s last weeks of her life. I had told her more than once that maybe Grandma was holding on for something before she left this world. We thought it was that she wanted to celebrate her 102nd birthday on Christmas Eve. We thought it was that she needed to get communion from the priest one more time before she passed away. We thought she was needing to know that her daughter and son would be okay if she went. That last one might have been the reason, because she passed away the night that Frank’s Aunt told her that it was okay to go, that her and her brother would be fine.
But now that she is gone, one of Grandma’s relatives might have figured out the reason Grandma left this earth the day she did. They said something to the extent of this, “The last guest has arrived, can you imagine what a great birthday party Frank’s Great Grandmother will have tomorrow, now that all of her kids have arrived in Heaven?” I like to think that is the reason she left when she did too. All I know is that I feel very blessed to have met her and be able to call her Grandma for the last 13 years. She has made an impact on my life and the lives of everyone she touched. I look forward to seeing her again in Heaven and I hope that she runs into my Mom up there and they can have a great talk over some coffee and cheesecake. 🙂 Rest in peace Grandma, you will not be forgotten…only missed.
There is a prayer that Catholics say for those who have passed away that I would like to share with you now:
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
(I should know this prayer by heart by now, but I am ashamed to say that I don’t. But I’m working on it.)