Friday, October 5, 2012

Remembering Her

 Grief goes up. Grief goes down. Grief goes all around.  That is starting to sound a lot like a page out of a Dr. Seuss book the more I repeat it. hehe Anyways, I'm sure this will be one of many blog posts about my Gram as I work through the different phases of grief. Writing has always been the easiest way for me to sort through what I feel. I'm so thankful for this outlet because I don't know if I would be able to heal without a place to lay my heaviness to rest. So, bear with me as I dig deep and honor the memory of one of the most amazing people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and loving.
 It's been a little over a week since my last living Grandparent; my Gram, Patricia Anne Marshall passed away very unexpectedly. She wasn't sick. She didn't die of old age and she was only in her 70's.  I think a lot of people assume that if a Grandparent dies that they passed on from an illness or old age.  That is how I always expected it to be with my Gram and since it wasn't it caught us all off guard.  It will take several months before the autopsy report is processed and in the meantime we will all have to find peace in the different ways that we need to find it. I'm shocked. I'm overwhelmed with emotion. I wasn't ready to say goodbye. I was sure we would have her with us for many more years. I just can't believe she is gone.  With each passing day the reality begins to sink in a little more but, the ache remains like a steady knot in my stomach.  At different times of each day I find myself saying softly to myself, "I miss you so much Gram."
My Gram was the only living Grandparent that I had in my life for several years and she is definitely the Grandparent that I've always felt the closest to. No other loss has cut me as deep or as hard as this one. I don't attach easily to people and it takes me a really long time to forge a powerful bond with someone. I've grieved for all of my Grandparents but, this loss is just different. The bond was stronger. The memories vast and wonderful. There is not a piece of my life that doesn't have a part of her in it.   She was involved in every special event in my life in some way. 
 I haven't gotten much sleep in the past several days and that is unusual for me.  I'm too restless.  I'm having strange dreams.  I see her face and hear her voice when I close my eyes and that is not a bad thing at all but, it makes it much harder to fall asleep. I hear her laugh in my ears and all the memories we shared flash repeatedly through my mind. I can't imagine entering this holiday season and not having our chief of holiday affairs here to celebrate with us for the first time in nearly 30 years.

Her house is home base for our family.  It's the oasis and retreat for every grandchild on a bad day.  We've all found peace while laying by her pool and gazing up at her towering palm trees as they swayed in the California breeze. Jazz music was often playing on her outdoor sound system.  Her vast collection of wind chimes would chime away in a wild but, somehow perfect harmony.  When you closed your eyes you genuinely felt like you were at a tropical resort. Gram's house is paradise.
 This is the house that I have spent nearly 26+ years of holidays at before moving to North Carolina and even some since I moved.  Every Easter she hosted an egg hunt for the grand kids and a brunch usually followed. We were always most excited about finding a blue egg because they held a $20 bill for each grandchild. Every Halloween she served her delicious chili with saltine crackers and let us pass out boat loads of candy at her door.  We usually ate a lot of it too but, she didn't need to know that.  Every Thanksgiving she hosted a feast fit for a King and I can promise you that no one on planet Earth makes mashed potatoes as delicious as my Gram.  Every Christmas Eve she hosted yet another beautiful dinner and after we had all eaten, she would pass out a wrapped gift to each grandchild.  We already knew more or less what was inside but, we still tore our present open with great anticipation.  The beloved Christmas Jammies!!
 We always wondered who would match and what colors we would each get.  Even this past Christmas my Gram (and Aunt Pam thank you auntie) made sure to mail not only me, but, my husband and my daughter Christmas jammies to match with the rest of our family back home.  I was 28 years old this last Christmas but, I still wanted those jammies so bad because I felt so far away from all of my family in California and when I got them in the mail my heart skipped a beat.  Those jammies brought me a little closer to the celebration that I was missing. She never seemed to grow weary of tradition.  She never grew weary of spoiling her grand kids. 
 For nearly 18 years all of the grand kids would spend the night at Gram's house on Christmas Eve and wait for Santa to fly over the house.  Christmas morning we would all bound down her creaky stairs to start shaking the oodles of presents with our names on them and guessing what might be inside.  She spoiled us rotten.  Let me emphasize that....she spoiled us ROTTEN.  Her generosity with her family knew no bounds.  She was the most giving person I've ever known.  
She wasn't just generous at Christmas time.  She was generous all the time.  She always found special ways to bless everyone around her.  She always made sure to have my favorite foods at her house when I visited.  She knew I didn't like traditional store bought birthday cakes so she surprised me with an old fashioned root beer float instead.  She always remembered to call on my birthday and was so sweet to mail a birthday card and check year after year.  Our birthdays were only a few days apart; hers being on April 10th and mine being on the 13th.  She loved to treat me to sushi when I visited and we would pig out on her back patio and make a huge mess together.  She got us beautiful dresses for Easter and colorful swim suits each Summer when we were kids.  Every Christmas she asked each of us for a Christmas list and she went out of her way to get us the majority of the things on our list.  She loved to take care of and spoil the people that she loved. 
Last night, I spent a little time jotting down the random things that come to mind when I think of my Gram and what she loved.  These are the things that represented who she was to me and quite possibly to many people: wind chimes, iris flowers, watering and gardening, rose bushes, feeding scrub jays on her patio, slippers, heated blankets, sparkling soda water, tanning, sunshine, naked (don't ask:), jazz music, warm days, being a nurse, jewelry, IZ and especially his Somewhere Over the Rainbow song, sarcasm, sushi, rainbows, strength, People Magazine, pasta salad, feisty, control oriented, crime shows and counselor to many.   

I have countless memories of swimming in her beautiful pool every Summer.  When the grand kids were little Gram would order pizzas or bring us push ups in the pool.  She would always heat our towels in the drier and have them ready for us when we got out.  She even heated towels for me and my girl friends this summer (2012) when we were in the jacuzzi late one night.  It seemed that I never got too old for Gram to spoil me.  This past June was very special because my little girl learned how to float and paddle for the first time in my Grandma's pool.  My Grandma was right beside me rooting my little girl on as she bravely tackled each step in the shallow end. I can still hear her cheers, "yeah, you go Daisy! There you go. Kick those legs."
Just like that, in the blink of an eye any one of us could be gone.  Death is hard for the living because we don't want to spend the rest of a life here on Earth without that person who has passed but, death also reminds us of the fragility of life.  It's probably never wise to assume that we are going to have all of our loved ones in our life until they are 90.  It's probably best to remember that every minute of every day is a gift and we should love more, forgive faster, fight less, play more, pray harder, dance often and laugh lots.  Make as many of your moments here on Earth count.  Live like every day could be your last and see how much more beautiful this life becomes. 

Gram, I miss you terribly.  It's hard to be in your home without your presence.  It's hard to imagine this upcoming holiday season without your festive celebrations.  It's hard to imagine not getting your cheerful comments on Facebook and Instagram anymore.  Life will never be the same without you in it but, I will cherish all of the fantastic memories.  I will remember what a strong woman you were through life's trials and I will strive to be strong also.  I'll love you forever.  I'll love you for always.  As long as I'm living my Gram you will be.
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22 comments:

  1. This made me cry. I'm so so sorry for your loss. Your words are a beautiful testament to her life. xoxo

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  2. Oh Casey, I am so sorry. When I lost my Gram my heart, oh my heart. I cry for your heart. It hurts. She was an amazing woman, as I was reading this I was thinking, "THIS is how I want people to see me," I want my kids and their kids and their kids to want to be near and around me because of who I am. You have been blessed, and bless your aching heart. I love ya Casey, and so sorry, so sorry!

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  3. So, So sorry dear friend! I'm praying for you today!
    Jessica

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  4. Tears are something that rarely come to me but they did reading your love filled tribute to your Gram. You certainly have been blessed with a grandmother that exemplified everything a grandmother should be. My heart goes out to you and your family and I hope that you will find a measure of comfort in the beautiful memories of your Grandmother.

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  5. Oh, Casey, I'm so sorry for your loss. I'll say a prayer for you and your family. What a beautiful tribute to your Grandma. She was a lovely lady inside and out.
    Blessings,
    Linda<><

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  6. Oh my gosh. I can't stop crying! You wrote that so so so well. Ugh...her house really was a tropical paradise I remember the pebble "flooring" around the pool and the back yard I always wondered how they put that in, I remember the rainbow room and all her jewelry and how she would let us watch Free Willy over and over and bring us Crystal Light Ice Tea and chicken sandwiches! She really made everyone feel special, the fact that she sent you guys matching pajamas in NC is the sweetest thing I've ever heard of! I remember spending every New Years at her house too and she would give us all martinellis in champagne flutes. I love how you wrote this all out and I can imagine I would feel the exact same way..just wanting everyone to know how amazing my grandma is and yours was too. I am so deeply sorry for your guys loss, she was truly one in a million. Thank you for writing this Casey!!

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  7. I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm extremely close to my Grannie who is 98 and reading about this makes my heart hurt for you on a very deep level. {{{{HUGS}}}}

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  8. I am so sorry, Casey. Your sweet Gram sounds like she was an amazing woman with a strong gift of giving. If we all used our spiritual gifts as well as your Gram this world would be a better place! My prayers will be with you. I know God is willing and able to heal your hurt.

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  9. Casey, I'm so sad about this. This is a great post and it really paints the picture of who she was. I'm looking forward to being a grandma one day; and after reading this, I'm looking forward to it that much more. She seemed like a fun, loving, and selfless person. It's always nice to learn about people like your grandma. I'm sorry you are hurting so bad. I will pray for your broken heart. Thanks for sharing, and for the reminder to enjoy each day with those we love. Hugs to you, friend.

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  10. Casey, I'm so sorry to hear of your Gram. Death is so incredibly hard. Sounds like you have some amazing memories to keep and share with your girl. Thinking about you.

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  11. This is such a sweet post, and I think a lot of people can relate to it in some way. I'm close to my Grandpa like that because he is the only grandparent I have now, and he spoils me and his other grandkids a lot as well. I am so sorry to hear about her passing, I will be thinking of you and praying.

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  12. so sad with you friend. this is a beautiful post because it shows both you and your Gram's beauty. i especially loved the jammies pics and her wedding photo. thank you for sharing your heart- i hope it heals soon! love you Casey!

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  13. I am so sorry for your loss! She really seems like an amazing and wonderful person. What a beautiful home to have memories in and I love all your memories of her. Praying for you!

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  14. Oh Casey, I feel like we have now walked in the same shoes and my heart breaks for you. I know that indescribable bond, that void, that voice you hear. Losing my granny last year was the hardest loss I have experienced. There are still days I break down and cry and simply say, "I wish I could talk to you gran."

    Love and prayers to you during this time.

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  15. So sorry for your loss! Your Grandma was a very pretty lady!!

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  16. What a great tribute post. I'm so sorry for your loss, I am going through it right now too with my grandpa, we are truly never prepared but thankfully Heaven Father never leaves our side to help comfort us with the wonderful memories we have to hold on to, till we meet again. xoxo S.

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  17. So sorry for your loss, she sounds like a real classy lady.

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  18. So sorry for your lose Casey! Your Grandma sounded amazing, and it sounds like she created some even more amazing memories with the rest of your family to hang on to. I'll be saying a prayer for you and your family.

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  19. So sorry for your lose Casey! Your Grandma sounded amazing, and it sounds like she created some even more amazing memories with the rest of your family to hang on to. I'll be saying a prayer for you and your family.

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  20. thanks for sharing your heart with us. Some of the best advice I got about grief was 1 - don't rush the anger stage; 2 - don't put a time frame on when you'll be 'back to normal'. normal is gone now with Gram. ease into 'new normal' and let Gram live on in your stories, your memories and your laughter.

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  21. Oh Casey, I'm so sorry to hear this. Hugs to you and I'm praying for you and your family. I am glad to see all the wonderful memories you are left with and those pictures you shared are priceless. Love you!

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  22. Casey, I haven't been on the blogfront lately and I am so sorry that I am just seeing this post now. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I pray that God helps Gram communicate her everlasting love for you often! I dreamed about my mom quite a bit after she died and I still do. I dreamed about my friend after he died. I really believe they were truly visiting me in my sleep. I bet your gram is staying very close to you right now!!! Look for signs that she is with you. I promise you will find them if rely on your heart rather than your eyes!! xoxoxo

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