Today is my Grandma's birthday.
I've been working on this post for quite a while and trying to edit through the photos without breaking down in tears. I do okay most of the time. But when I see a picture of her, I just feel like she should be here, and I think about how I feel like I should just be able to go visit her, but I can't. She's not there.
We lost my grandmother to cancer a few months ago. We were lucky enough to have much more time with her than the doctors expected us to have. When we first found out, I was pregnant with our daughter and shortly thereafter went from full time to part time at my job. I feel like the timing was all part of God's plan. I know it was. Because I was part time, I was able to spend so much more time with my grandma, chatting and listening to her stories and just being together. And she loved babies, so it was so fortunate that she could spend more time with my daughter.
But then one day she was gone. We knew it was coming, but it was still too soon. She was such an amazing woman. I don't recall a time when she ever said an unkind word about someone. You knew when she disagreed with a situation, but she didn't have to say a word. She was the ultimate example of Christian living, and I feel like even now, when things are tough, she is my Prayer Warrior in Heaven. I feel closer to her during those times.
Some of my dearest childhood memories are from her home, and although material possessions don't make a person, they remind me so much of her and the sweet, wonderful memories she helped create for us. I am convinced she was the glue that held our family together. She was the mother of 6, the grandmother of 36, and the great grandmother of 24 (if my math is right)....how else do you get that many people together regularly? I am so much closer to my cousins than most people are, and many of my greatest memories are with my cousins and aunts and uncles, and they're some of my favorite people.
Before they cleaned out her home, I wanted to have photos of all of the things that reminded me of her. I am incredibly sentimental, so it is very difficult for me to see an object with even the most trivial memory thrown away. If I didn't already have a home, I would have bought hers because I truly loved it, maybe more than any home I've actually lived in. It breaks my heart to know someone else will live in it someday soon, and I won't be able to just go over there. It was the tiniest home, but she was able to care for 6 children in it, and it never felt cluttered. She lived there most of her life, from childhood to the day she passed (if you can believe that in an age where people may build 4 homes in a lifetime).
I could literally write all day long about my grandma because she was the most incredible storyteller that I felt like I was part of every phase of her life even if I wasn't there, and she was such an integral part of my life.
Anyway, this post may mean nothing to you because it's just things, but it means the world to me, so that I can bring up memories in my mind through the photos of the things she had, the things that were there from my childhood to adulthood, and some even from my mother's childhood.
Happy Birthday, Grandma! I love you so.
Love and Prayers,
March 19, 2015
My Grandma Eichman passed away today.
It still seems so foreign to me that she's gone. She was an amazing grandmother. She didn't spoil us with money, but you knew she loved you with all the love a grandma could give through her actions and words. She always showed she cared by sending a card that always seemed to arrive exactly on our birthdays (and she remembered the birthdays of all 36 grandchildren), making the best root beer floats in the world, telling the best stories, always knowing what was happening in your life and showing genuine interest, and you knew she was praying for you, which was the best because she had a real and direct connection to God. She was a wonderful woman. The best example of a person. I will miss her so much, but I am grateful she is out of pain.
She loved the rosary. If you are Catholic, please say a rosary for her. Any prayers are very much appreciated. I love you, Grandma.
"Well done, my good and faithful servant. Come and share your Master's joy."
Eucharistic Prayer on the day of her passing
She passed on the Feast of St Joseph, the patron of a peaceful death, which is so ironic because my cousin who is a nun actually prayed that that would be the day when we knew it would be soon.
My sister was such a blessing for helping me with the little one while I was busy.
She always kept different types of Wrigley gum for us as a special treat. And the coffee pots had to be turned just such a way so that the handles would be in the proper place for grabbing them.
One of the most memorable pieces of her home....the chalkboard. Every grandchild would write on that chalkboard when they came over. You knew who had visited last by what was written or drawn on it.
She always ate her cutie oranges out of this bowl.
Even the stove is memorable. She worked at McDonald's on the early morning shift, so when we visited, she would make egg mcmuffins for us. She was born during the Great Depression, so she never wasted food, and she could make something from anything. I remember that if she made baked potatoes the night before, you would have hash browns from them the next morning.
She smoked for years and years but quit when she was 70. My husband and I both love diners that smell like cigarette smoke and bacon grease (those diners are hard to come by these days!) because they remind us of our grandparents' homes.
This table. This was the hub of the house. I am so honored to have gotten her table. When they moved it to our house, my husband even kept track of which chair was hers so I would know. But the spot where she sat, the tabletop is visibly worn, and I don't know if I can bring myself to refinish it or leave it be.
This table is where the stories happened. Where we heard about her life, and about funny stories from other people's lives. This is where I found out that when she was younger, she hitchhiked with a girlfriend and got in a car with someone they thought they knew but didn't, so they told him they worked at Howard Johnson so he'd drop them off and not kidnap them. Or the story about how she traveled out west with $5 in her pocket. A favorite one when one of my younger cousins decked the other with a purse over the "swingset and the apple tree", and the one who got hit just said "a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do." Little cousins dunking barbies in a sump pump, while my cousin cried "But it's my first communion!" Or how my mom said she was moving out when she was a kid, and my grandma took down all of her baby pictures so she'd think they really believed her.
This kitchen is so special. Here I remember root beer floats, and laughter, and aunts and uncles and cousins crammed into the tiny space, and my cousin Amber standing up on a chair leading all of the cousins in cheering for no reason at all, and my uncle showing up with a paper bag over his head and pretending he was a trick-or-treater. Here was true love and happiness and togetherness.
She kept everything, but it was all organized. We even found a receipt of the Confirmation books she bought for my cousin and me.
Each family had Christmas elves assigned to them. Every year, the families would receive their own letter from Santa relaying information from their elves about what they had done good or bad...you know, so we'd all shape up in time for Christmas. She left the list of elves for my mom in an envelope along with the letter template that my mom helped create for Santa.
She was completely fair to every grandchild...the same amount of attention, the same gift, the same amount of praise. But if you were on the fridge...well, that felt pretty darn special.
This box of rosaries comes as no surprise. I never asked her, but I believe one of my grandma's favorite prayers was the rosary.
My grandmother was a huge fan of photographs, and she always had a slew of them about.
The playroom was also special. It was where we played "White Swan" grocery story, and every toy was so familiar because most of them had been around from my childhood if not my mom's childhood.
Wasn't she beautiful?? The picture of her in her wedding dress by herself is actually a painting that my grandpa paid to have done, which probably was a small fortune for them. I never knew my grandpa because he died when my mom was a teenager, so these photos of them together are so special to me.
As she became more and more ill, this is the chair where she sat. My aunt and uncle bought her the blanket draped over the orange chair to make her comfortable, and she would talk about that blanket all the time to me.
I only remember going into the basement once or twice, but when my mom and her siblings lived at home, my uncles' room was in the basement. When we were kids, she would maybe send us down there to the deep freezer to get ice cream for rootbeer floats.
One of the most touching moments on this day was finding a letter from my grandpa to my grandma. It was a sweet, tender letter about how he wasn't good enough....which I'm sure he was an amazing husband and father....sent to her from where he worked.
It was dreary on this day, but I always remember the backyard as a sunny, happy place. There sits the swingset that she always said was a deathtrap, and there used to be a big shade tree which made everything soft and peaceful. Lilacs filled the air, and I can recall my grandma and uncle and my mom sitting in lawn chairs by the house, drinking lemonade and talking, while we kids played wiffle ball or badmiton.
And so she's gone, but her memory lives on in the stories that our family shares, and in the time we spend together, in each Mass and rosary, and in the way I try to be a better person because of her, to be more like her. To stifle my temper and to just love and pray. To be a quiet warrior. She is there when I need prayers from heaven. And she's there when my daughter colors at the kitchen table. I miss her so, but I know she is with my grandfather after all these years, enjoying God's infinite love.
Wife, Mommy, Vintage Lover, Coffee Addict, Photography Junkie