Today we will lay to rest my 92 year old Grandma “Rita.”
Today will be a tough day for me. Today will be a tough day for my kids. And today will be a tough day for my extended family, especially my mother.
My grandma was always involved in my life. My mom did an exceptional job bringing her into everything… swim meets, school functions, family vacations, photo opps before dances, softball games, holidays, truly – everything. I then took it upon myself to forge an even closer bond with my grandma. I remember being around 10 years old and just calling her up “to talk!” My grandma – bless her – was so kind to a little girl. I don’t even know what we would talk about, but I would be on the phone with her for over an hour! We would talk about anything and everything. She was just always special to me and she meant the world to me.
Even as a little girl when she would leave our house to drive home to her apartment, which was about 30 minutes away… I would sit by the phone and wait for her to call and let us know that she was home. I would get nervous about her driving alone at night by herself. There was just always something about my grandma that warmed my heart.
She was kind to me.
She loved me and I felt that love.
She cared about me.
And all those pieces mixed together forge a pretty tight bond.
There are things about my grandma that I will never, ever forget. Simple things, but things that will always make me smile and happy to know that I know them.
My grandma loved the color pink.
She loved shopping at Kohl’s and buying Gloria Vanderbilt jeans.
She loved wearing pins on her blouses.
She loved getting her hair done and even on her last days in the hospital kept asking about her hair. This made us all smile.
She loved coffee shakes and clam chowder from Newport Creamery.
She preferred White Zinfandel over white or red.
She loved romance books and then passing them along to her building library.
She loved cardigans and pretty prints.
She loved to surprise her great grandkids with a dollar bill whenever she could and she LOVED seeing their faces light up when she gave it to them! As you can imagine, a dollar bill to a kid is like $500!
She loved laughing and being surrounded by her family.
She read the newspaper every single morning – the entire paper!
She loved the Patriots and never missed the chance to watch them.
She loved pretty and colorful jewelry.
She loved poached eggs and her coffee with a little cream and “2 pinks.”
She loved to just sit and watch her great grandkids… and adored watching the littlest ones just play.
If she loved a sweater or turtleneck, she would buy it in every color they had… I swear she’s where I got my sense and love of fashion from in my life!
She refused to wear flats, she was a heel girl. She loved wearing heels and as she got older, the heel had to get a little smaller – but still… there was always a little lift!
She loved seeing my sons get excited when they passed her in height… my 3 oldest guys were able to hit that milestone.
She loved my mom with a love that was inspiring. She just deeply loved her and truly was thankful for all that my mom did for her. It made me yearn to have a daughter because it was such a comforting relationship to watch throughout my life.
She loved my father like her own and I loved seeing him love her back just as much.
She loved being active, walking the halls of her apartment building ALL the time.
She was a huge fitness and health advocate throughout her entire life.
She loved giving me and my sister every Christmas a brown box filled with toys! She would drop it off a few days early and we would try our best to poke a hole in the wrapping paper to see inside!
She always stood at our local 4th of July parade when the Navy walked by, as difficult as it was for her in the past few years to stand, she still did when they marched by… she would always stand and honor the brave men and woman. It always made me tear up. My grandfather has been in the Navy, so it was special to her.
She loved that we moved “back” home this summer and were closer to her. She loved knowing that the kids were loving our new neighborhood and school. She would always ask me, “How are the kids doing?”
My grandma just loved being part of things. She was a quiet, kind, caring and beautiful woman. She never desired to be the center of attention. She was just a kind spirit to always have around. She always would ask me about work and ask when I was traveling next. I knew she was proud of me, but I also knew she worried about me working so hard… so I would always tell her, “I’m OK Grandma!” She understood going after your dreams and being open to the world of possibilities.
The beautiful thing is that my grandma did live a very long life where she got to see and be part of so much, but that also makes it a little harder to say goodbye. She’s just always been here, part of the fabric of our lives. She had her special seat at my mom’s house, so this year it will be tough to see it empty. It will be tough not buying her gifts this Christmas, she would always get excited over updated photos of the kids and new romance books!
I’m comforted to know that she’s now reunited with my grandfather and her sisters and brother and parents. I’m comforted to know that my kids got to know her and lover her. I’m comforted that she touched so many lives with her kindness and grace and love. I’m comforted to know that she will be a guiding star for us in our lives… a guardian angel watching over us.
Saying goodbye will not be easy today, but I know she was ready to go and that gives me peace.
I love you Grandma… thank you for loving me so much. I will keep your fearless legacy alive for all the generations to come.