Friday, December 5, 2008

A letter about Great Grandma- from Daddy

Dear Charlie,

Your Great Grandma passed away today so I thought I'd write you a little letter to tell you about her life and how much you meant to her. Someday you will be old enough to read this.

Your Great Grandmother, "Grams" or "Grandma" as we called her, was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1918. This makes her 90 years old! As a young child, she lost her sister at a very young age due to an accident in the kitchen with boiling water. I believe they were heating water for bathwater on the stove which fell off a bench scalding her baby sister. They didn't have hot water heaters back then. A few year later, Great-Grandma's mother passed away from Pneumonia in 1929 when Great Grandma was only 11 years old. Back then they didn't have antibiotics so there was no way to treat infections other than hoping a person's fever would break. Great Grandma told us that her mom told her she wouldn't live through her illness. She arranged to have Tante Albina to bring her into her family after she died. There was always a hole in Great-Grandma's heart for the mom she missed so long ago. Tante gave Great Grandma a good family to grow up in and took great care of her.

Great Grandma grew up during the Great Depression. Her and Great Grandpa shared many stories of how bad it was during those days. In her mid teens, Great Grandma had to move away from her home to move in with another family where she worked as a mothers helper. She would go to school in the morning and then come back to work for the family doing homemaking for them. She wasn't paid much but it was something she had to do since our family didn't have enough money to get through those times.

Great Grandma and Grandpa met during a parade in town. I believe Great Grandpa asked Great Grandma out for a movie on their first date. I guess that date went well because Great Grandma and Grandpa celebrated their 64 year anniversary this year!

There were many stories she shared with us over the years. One of her favorites was the cross country trip they took in a car with your your grandma and her sister. For six weeks, all four of them drove out west and around the country. They camped with tents every night and laid down a board on the floor in front of the rear seat so your Grandma and her sister could sleep while they drove. Great grandma still has souvenirs and remembrances on the basement walls from the trip. I still use the box Great Granpa built for the top of the car as a trailer now!

Great Grandma had a long and wonderful life. She was blessed to have a great husband, a long marriage and special family. It was special to see how Great Grandma and Grandpa were like one. The love they shared for each other was beyond words. One cute thing that I remember was Great Grams would prep a dish of leftovers and hand it off to Gramps to put in the microwave because Great Grandma never could learn how to use the Microwave. They were a team like this in every part of their life. They were a perfect example of what a couple and a marriage could and should be.

So, a little about you. They both eagerly awaited your arrival! They always had great interest in how your Mommy was doing while she was carrying you. Since you were the first grandchild and great grandchild for my side of the family, they were very excited about your coming. When you were born, Great Gram and Gramps came to visit you while you were still in the hospital. We put you on her lap so she could hold you. I can honestly say that that day was probably the happiest I've ever seen my Grandparents. It doesn't get much better than that. They were both without word because they couldn't wipe the big smiles off their faces as they held you. As we put them in their car at the hospital to go home (yes, Great Gramps still drives well!), your grandfather (my Dad) said "Everything is complete for them Son, anything can happen to them now and they will be okay". You were their first and Grandma's only Great Grandson! Your birth was the perfect completion of their life. Great Grams loved to tell everyone how you made her "Great"! You meant so much to her.

They were able to join us for your Baptism which was also very special . Being able to kneel in front of the alter with You, Mommy and the two of them to take Communion in our Church was a special moment for me. Gram and Grams were devoted Christians and attended Church every Sunday. This gives me great comfort to know that Great Grandma is up in Heaven now looking down on all of us. One of her favorite verses was Psalms 121:

The LORD Is Thy Keeper
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is thy keeper: the LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul.
The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.

About 6 weeks ago, Great Grandma had what we figure is a stroke. Up until that day, she was "as sharp as a tack" as they say. Still staying up late to write thank you letters or holiday cards to her family. Just the day before, the both of them were shopping around town and even went out to dinner together! We often joked that they did more things in their 90s than people a third their age do.

The next morning she told Great Grandpa she was confused and didn't know where she was. Grandpa helped her to the bed to get some rest. As it ended up, he had to call the ambulance to bring her to the hospital. Over the coming weeks, they did everything they could to help her but God had other plans. After that day, she was in and out of consciousness. For the most part she was confused and not the same Grandma we all knew. On occasions she would have good days and be able to communicate a little but it was difficult to connect. One of the only ways I was able to get through to her near the end was to tell her about you! On one occasion I pulled out a picture of you from my wallet to show her. She stared at it for a long time. When I went to take it from her, she pulled it to her chest in adoration! In that one moment, I saw the Grams we all knew and I knew she was inside and able to take comfort in our presence and her love for you. The last time I was able to get her to respond was when I mentioned you name and how I was putting up a picture of "Little Charlie" in the room beside her. She couldn't talk or see but tried to move in excitement knowing that the picture of you would be beside her. The same one she had on display at home.

Great Grandpa told me these last few weeks that he couldn't' sleep while she was in the hospital. He missed her so much and just wanted her to come back home. Great Grandpa is now 92 years old. Every day he would go to visit her in the hospital and sit next to her. I'm sure knowing that he was there gave great comfort to her in these last few days. Now it is important that we take care of Great Gramps and make sure he gets to spend a lot of time with you!

When I learned of Grammy's passing, one of the first things I wanted to do was hold you. I couldn't hold back the tears knowing that a little part of Great Grammy lives in you. Always remember how much you meant to her, how much she loved you and how much she will be missed by all of us.

I love you Son,
Love Daddy

PS....Your Great Grandmother was never in a wheelchair as in the picture. We insisted that we push her in a wheelchair at the hospital so she didn't have to walk so far. Great Gramps enjoyed pushing her down the Maternity Hall while telling everyone "It was a boy". Your Great Gramps has a great sense of humor!


Elisa said...

I'm just a lurker that happened to bookmark your blog a long time ago (I think from the Nest?) and I want to tell you that this is the sweetest post I have read in a long time! I am sorry about your Gram. I think you did an amazing job in your letter letting your son know how special she was! He is a lucky boy!

Kelly said...

Thank you so much for reading and for your kind thoughts and words. They mean so much in tough times like this.


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