Grammy died on April 16th 2015 at 7:50am. She had just been released from the hospital. It was suspected that she had internal bleeding, but the tests that were ran were inconclusive. She was released from the hospital and died within 12 hours. She was getting ready for the day as normal, and as she was standing up to get dressed she died in my mom's arms. I woke up earlier than normal that day and saw my mom's message that said "Call, it's urgent." I called and found out that grandma had passed away. I was able to make it down to my mom's house before the funeral home came to take her away.
This was the first funeral that I was actively apart of making arraignments for. Everything moved incredibly quickly. Grandma died around 8am, and by 2pm we were sitting at Monreal Funeral Home and making decisions. The girl that we worked with, Kristina, was incredibly kind to us and she was very patient. She made the experience a lot easier. She was the niece of the owners of Monreal Funeral home, and she and her husband are eventually going to take it over. She had only been doing it for a year, but she was very professional, patient, and helpful. This was the memorial cards that we picked out for grandma.
The funeral home had a whole list of verses that could be picked out to be put on the other side of the memorial card. My mom, Aunt Karen, and I were looking through them all and when I came across God's Garden we all knew that it was the right one for grammy. It says, "God looked around His garden and He found an empty place. He then looked down upon this earth, and saw your tired face. He put His arms around you and lifted you to rest. God's garden must be beautiful, He always takes the best. He knew that you were suffering, He knew you were in pain. He knew that you would never get well on earth again. He saw the road was getting rough and the hills were hard to climb. So He closed your weary eyes, and whispered, "Please be thine." It broke our hearts to lose you but you didn't go alone, For part of us went with you the day God called you home."
It was relatively easy for us to pick out the casket. It was a light violet color with a lace under lay. The hardest part for us was writing grandma's obituary. We debated over and over what should go into the obituary, and we tried to make sure to include everyone. I think that were literally went over this for an hour.
The next day mom and I went to the mall and tried to find an outfit for grandma to be buried in. We needed to find a long sleeve outfit, because of how grandma's arms looked. In the middle of April this was very difficult, especially because the style of dresses only comes down to the elbow.
I spent several hours putting together grandma's memory board. It was nice looking through all of the old pictures and remembering things. I made one board that was with older pictures of her life, and then another board with more recent pictures. I think it took me almost 4 hours to complete.
Here is the other board. I think the only thing that I could have changed was to just bring old photo albums along with the boards. Everyone was looking at the photos on the boards a whole lot, but I had SO many more pictures. I wish that I would have brought all of them.
Grandma's mass was at her favorite church, St. Vitus in Cleveland which is a block away from her house. It was wonderful because the nun still came and gave grandma her commune every week. So she was still an active member of the church and the preacher and nun were able to talk about her and tell stories about her. I've always thought that St. Vitus was the most beautiful church that I have ever been to. The priest did a fantastic job talking during the service that I was a little bit worried for my turn to speak. I normally try to memorize my speeches and give them, but I knew that I would be chocked up on this occasion and decided to read off of a piece of paper to not put unneeded stress on myself. I felt that it was really important that someone who loved grandma should stand up to tell about her life. Here is a copy of the speech that I gave:
Hi Everyone. I'd like to share a few memories that I have of my grandma. When I think of my grandma, the first thing that comes to mind is back when I was younger and she used to watch me all the time. I remember us watching our soap operas, All My Children and One Life to Live. Then we would play Crazy 8’s, Go Fish, and Rummy and somehow I would always win. I remember her house being full of ba-bushkas or her reglious firgurines that were on her wall and around the house. We used to walk into the back and slide and scoot our way into her blue truck and go off for the day getting ice cream or going swimming. Or we would order Shrimp Fried Rice from our favorite Chinese place from down the street and have lunch with my mom on her lunch hour.
I think that everyone that thinks of grandma thinks of all of the dogs that she has had throughout the years. She always had poodles in the house and german shepards in the back yard. The one dog that I think she loved the most, was the last dog that she had, Katie. Katie was the sweetest little dog you’ve ever met and every time she sat with grandma, grandma would have to tell her “No kisses Kate.” Because Katie was always trying to cuddle and give kisses. Katie was grandma’s companion for years and years as grandma got older. And until her dying day grandma would ask mom if she had fed Katie even though Katie had died years before.
Grandma was also an avid shopper. Boy did she love to shop and find a good deal. As she got older and had a harder time walking she was in her glory when she went to stores like Walmart that had the motorized scooters that she could hop into and take off on.
Everytime that I called my grandma I’d ask her how she was doing, and she’d always say, “Oh I’m hanging in there.” For as long as I can remember grandma was hanging in there.
As she got older she started liking less and less things to eat, but she always loved her mashed potatoes. I think that she lived on them. That is, unless of course, there were sweets around. Grandma was the most picky eater you’d find, but place something sweet in front of her and she’d gobble it up.
I'd also like to take this time to recognize how good my mom took care of my grandma, and what a wonderful care taker she was. My mother has visited or talked to my grandma on the phone almost every single day that I can remember for the last 30 years. She always kept my grandma company, and showed love and dedication to her mother that isn’t very common. Especially as my grandma got sick, my mom did an amazing job taking care of grandma. My grandma had dementia and had limited mobility which made being her caretaker especially difficult. Mom sacrificed and worked extremely hard to keep grandma from going into a nursing home. Mom used her vacation days to take grandma to her doctors appointments, and used her lunch hours to make sure that she was able to go to the bathroom and that her sitters were taking good care of her. Mom missed countless events and gave up trying to get some of her deals to ensure that grandma wasn’t home alone and that she was ok. I know that grandma is thankful and proud of my mom for all of the hard work that she did to help take care of her. Fittingly, my mom was there with my grandma as she took her last breath and then spent countless hours with my Aunt Karen and myself trying to arrange her funeral service. My mom has given a large part of her life to my grandma over the last 30 years and she should feel good for all of the effort that she put in to help make sure that my grandma had a good quality life even though she was losing her memories and mobility.
I can only hope that as I grow older that I can show and be showed the same levels of love, devotion, and sacrifice that I learned from my mother and grandmother. Thank you.
Grandma was buried next to my grandfather at Lafayette Memorial Park in Brier Hill, PA. It was quite a long trip out on Monday. It took us about 4 and 1/2 hours to get there and about 3 hours to get home. We think that the hearse got lost because he drove through downtown Pittsburgh which really wasn't necessary, but it was ok. Grandma is buried in the Rose section near the chapel in lot 71 grave 5. There were a group of about 5 cars that went out to the grave site and we all placed a rose on her casket and had a short prayer service.
My grandfather, Aunt Karen and a bunch of dogs. Grandma always loved animals, especially dogs. She always had poodles on the inside of the house, and german shepards in the backyard.
At 5615 Carry Ave.
My mom and grandma
My grandma and her sister, Aunt Clara. Even until the end they still practically talked everyday.
My uncle Sunny, Colleen, Tammy, Christine, Cathy and grandma.
Grandma with her 3 children at her oldest granddaughter's wedding.
Grandma and her two girls
Grandma holding me when I was born.
My 5th birthday party. We matched!
3 generations. I love how grandma's smile is the exact same in every photo throughout all of the years.
The last wedding that grandma attended. She missed making it to my wedding by just one month.
I like this picture of grandma. She looks really alert.
Grandma's last Christmas
This was grandma sitting at the pool she used to take me to when I was 6.
Grandma's last birthday.
Grandma with all of her granddaughters.
Mom, Uncle Sunny, Grandma, and Anthony
Grandma loved animals. Every time she came over to my house she loved getting to see my boys.
A typical Christmas from the past... with a lottery tree and a bunch of presents.
One of my mom's birthday parties.
Mrs. Kelly and grandma at a cookout at Aunt Karen's house.
I love how grandma looks in this picture.
This is the last picture that I'm posting because this is how I want to remember grandma. With her favorite dog, Katie and young and vibrant.