Saturday January 21st a little after 6:30AM my phone rang. My heart sank and I knew the call before I answered it. My mom told me that my Grandma had just passed away. I knew it was near, my mom had boarded a cross-country flight just days earlier because my Aunt urged us that her time was close. The tears have been slow to come, mainly because I said good-bye to my Grandma years ago when Alzheimer’s took her from us. Instead of hitting me all at once, the loss of my Grandma has hit me slowly over 6 years.
The funeral is this week. I’ll be doing a reading at her funeral Mass, just as I did for my Grandfather. I will not be speaking publicly about my Gram, I’ll leave the eulogizing to my Mom and her siblings. But I have lots I want to say and thoughts I want to pull together. So, indulge me for a while… I want to muse a little.
Yvette Tartre, but everyone called you Mickey (nicknamed after Mickey Mouse). I adore your given name but you seemed to prefer Mickey. Speaking of names, they were something that you never got right on the first try. “Jo, Teresa, Betty, Jane… Amy” I loved how you would call me by your sisters names or your daughters names before you finally got to “Amy”. I also love how you would call me Josephine when I was being impish. I have no idea where that came from but I love it to pieces.
I feel lucky to be the oldest granddaughter. You were in your 50’s when I was little and you and grandpa were quite active. I was lucky to stay with you for a week or two each summer. You integrated us into your daily life and I learned so much. I would wake early and crawl into bed with you and grandpa where we would watch the morning news. I mortified you one morning when I proclaimed that you had a neck like E.T. (having your chin tucked created creases on your neck that reminded me of E.T. but you thought I was calling you old) but we had good laughs about it for years to come. Breakfast was always Cheerios and grapefruit while watching Regis and Kathy Lee. Grapefruit for breakfast always reminds me of you and grandpa now and I have a soft spot in my heart for Regis. You would take me with you while you ran errands, went to get your hair “did”, and met your girlfriends for lunch at the country club. I learned proper table etiquette early on and you always made me feel included in these lunch dates. We spent days at the Maine beaches and went on shopping trips. Shopping trips always meant lunch with Grandpa because his office was by the mall. We would also go shopping for the fixings for dinner. You taught me that it is important to find good fresh ingredients and often took me to farm stands for vegetables and to the fish mongers on the docks for seafood. I learned to always insist on wild caught salmon and to interrogate the fish guy if it isn’t clearly marked as such.
The dinners you prepared were straight out of Bon Appetite. When I was grown and on my own you bought me my first subscription and you became my food and party planning coach. Whenever I was planning a dinner party I would call you to consult on the menu. I’d tell you a little about the event and the people and you’d call me an hour later with suggestions and recipes. Bon Appetite will always be on my coffee table. I inherited your adventuresome cooking gene and your zest for party planning.
You weren’t there when I got married but you did meet my husband just days after he proposed to me. I will never forget when the haze lifted enough for you to really, really recognize me and understand that I was introducing you to the man I was going to marry. It was the last time I saw you and I believed in my heart that those seconds of recognition were enough to sustain me. I was wrong because even now I miss you so much.
I carried one of your embroidered hankies with me on my wedding day and we served your wedding punch at the reception. The highest compliment I was paid on that wonderful day was when my Aunt told me how proud you would have been of the lovely party that we had thrown. I wish you could have been there.
The day you died I honored you by having a dinner party with friends. Something you loved to do and something that years earlier I would have been on the phone consulting with you on the menu. We had homemade pizza, defiantly not something you would have recommended but perfect nonetheless.
You live on in me so many ways.
The blog is going to go quiet (or more quiet than usual) for a couple of weekes so as I travel back east to pay tribute to a woman I loved so dearly and grapple with the emotions of her departure. Below I have pulled together a bunch of photos of my grandma that I had to share.
She was a nurse and perhaps her most important patient was my grandfather. She managed his Type 1 Diabetes so well over the years that he outlived the expected lifespan for a type 1 diabetic.
I love his bridesmaids and matron of honor dresses, I wish I could tell what color they are.
My mom is the oldest of 5 children.
Skiing was an important family past time and my grandma skied into her 60s.
My grandparents were well traveled. the photo on the right is from their 50th wedding anniversary trip to St Thomas. The whole family went together. I especially love how they are holding hands.
Seriously, how sharp are these two on a trip to Hawaii?
Enjoying lobster rolls at the lobster shack.
Reading to her 2nd Great-Grandchild, my nephew, the Boy.