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Grandma - cellophane — LiveJournal
the story of an invisible girl
So I have now been married over a year... crazy! Mike and I celebrated our 1-year anniversary on Sunday, in sunny Cancun Mexico. It was an awesome trip, and I will share more about it in the near future.

However we came home to some sad news: my grandmother passed away on Friday. This is my father's mother, also my last living grandparent. She was 96 I think, and she has been fading for several years. Significant dementia, and forgetting most everything... but she was still my Grandma, and I will miss her.

She lived in New Jersey all my life, although she and my grandfather moved quite a lot as my dad was growing up. My grandpa passed away when I was just a baby, so although I have photos of me with him, I do not remember him. We used to visit her every Christmas holiday - generally we would spend Dec 26th through 31st in New Jersey with her and other family members. After I graduated college I didn't make it out to NJ as often for Christmas, but I tried to make a habit of visiting in the Spring or Summer.

Last year I got married, and instead of my traditional NJ trip, most of the family came to Michigan. Unfortunately she was not well enough at that point to travel. That was one of the downsides of meeting M later in life: Grandma didn't make it to my wedding. On the plus side though, he and I did travel to NJ together two summers ago and he got to meet her. (On another down side, he didn't get to meet my "real" grandma, the vibrant one before she started fading.)

I keep thinking of memories to share here, but finding it challenging to summarize 40 years worth of trips to Grandma's house, not to mention her trips to Michigan, in a simple blog post. She had a basset hound named Cleo when I was a kid. He loved to have his belly rubbed. I would take him for walks, and I would crawl through his doggie door after him.

Her youngest daughter has cerebral palsy, so Grandma spent decades of her life caring for her. Grandma learned to use a computer before most people even considered buying one for their homes, so she could help Laura learn language. Eventually she found a really nice group home for Laura, but still brought her home most weekends. She was active in the "parents with disabled children" community. Through this community, she met a man with a disabled son. The man's name was John, and when I was sixteen and she was about 70, she married him. My father walked her down the aisle.

Grandma and John had ten years together, and I remember visiting them from college. They had a nightly ritual in which he would pour them each a Manhattan, they would clink their glasses, kiss, then sip their drinks together. She had a photo of him from his twenties in the living room. She had never known him in his twenties, but when I remarked on how attractive he'd been, she arched her eyebrows at me, smiled, and agreed.

John passed away when she was around 80. I remember asking her how she was doing, and she told me, "I had ten unexpected and wonderful years with John, and I'm grateful." I often think of that attitude when faced with losing people or things. Remembering to be grateful for unexpected pleasures.

A couple of years after she lost John, I lost my first fiance S (12 years ago). Grandma called me several nights in those first few weeks, just seeing if I could sleep, letting me know she was thinking of me and loved me.

When my dad turned 60, we had a surprise birthday party for him in Michigan, secretly convincing all of his sisters, their husbands, and his mother to fly to Michigan and surprise him. I took this photo on time-delay, so I could run into the picture and we could have Dad's whole family in the picture at once.

2001, the whole family:

2002, a cousin's wedding reception:

At some point Cleo passed on, I can't remember when. But then she got a new dog, a pug. She allowed her daughter Laura to name the dog, so Laura named it after her favorite bus driver, Bill. Here she is with two of her great-grandchildren, and Bill, in 2007.

2005, a pic from her 90th birthday party:

Four generations of Wasielewskis in one picture:

This was taken in 2003, when my grandmother was still a young thing in her late eighties. She passed away on Friday, leaving behind the marvelous family she built, and a wonderful legacy.

Rest in Peace Grandma, I will always remember you.


read 10 comments | talk to me!
ms_hecubus From: ms_hecubus Date: February 16th, 2012 04:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Congratulations on your anniversary.

And I'm very sorry to hear about your grandmother.
cleobatya From: cleobatya Date: February 16th, 2012 05:32 am (UTC) (Link)
that was beautiful and a great reminder of why it's so impt to treasure the blessings we have..
abrokenstarr From: abrokenstarr Date: February 16th, 2012 08:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I am so sorry for your loss. I can really see a strong family resemblance!
annielaurie From: annielaurie Date: February 16th, 2012 11:15 am (UTC) (Link)
It's amazing how strong a presence these people are in our lives. My own last grandparent died at 92 about 28 years ago and he still is a very strong presence in my mind. My husband did get to meet him quite a few times, but my children didn't and I would have LOVED them to know this kind and simply wonderful man....

Lovely tribute to your gramma and congrats on your first anniversary!
aiela From: aiela Date: February 16th, 2012 02:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm sorry for your loss. *hugs*
jeffreyab From: jeffreyab Date: February 16th, 2012 03:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Its always sad to lose your last grand parent especially if parts of them have left already. I try to remember my grandmother in her kitchen bustling around rather than her last bed ridden days.

Sounds like she had 96 good years.
operatic From: operatic Date: February 16th, 2012 10:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm very sorry for your loss; *hug!*
sandygood From: sandygood Date: February 18th, 2012 08:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Beautiful post about your grandmother. She seems like a great lady, and it brought tears to my eyes to see the obvious love that shines through when you write about her. We will be thinking of you and your family, and hope that you're doing okay.
simplykimberly From: simplykimberly Date: February 19th, 2012 12:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh Rennie! I'm so sorry! You painted such a lovely picture of her. Thank you for sharing a little bit of her.
netmouse From: netmouse Date: February 19th, 2012 07:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for sharing your stories, and I'm sorry for your loss. My grandfather died when I was little too. Based on my older brothers' comments, I really would have liked him. I didn't have a grandma who was much in the way of support for me or my family, so when I think of the kind of Grandmother I want to be (if I should be so lucky), I look to the stories I hear from other people. Like these.

read 10 comments | talk to me!