Remembering Gram

8.29.23 – 7.17.12

Gram’s memorial service is on Friday, 7/20/12.  I decided to write something up and see if the officiant will be able to read it during the service, and I wanted to share with everyone.


My mom asked me if I wanted to say anything, and I do, but it’s been rather a rough week so I have to type this up.  I know you guys don’t want to sit there and watch someone weep when they should be talking, so a very kind person has offered to say these words in my spot.  For those of you who sat and talked with me through my tears, reminiscing about the past or thinking about the future, I appreciate it.  I can’t express it right now – or perhaps really ever, in any proper fashion – but I appreciate it.
I consider myself a decent writer, but this is one of those times when I came up totally blank.  It took me the better part of an hour to even start typing.
As I sat in the hospital over the past week – a place NO one ever really wants to be – my phone beeped with notifications that were so much more meaningful than just a card from the Hallmark store.  Friends and family saw my updates, my sadness, and took time from their day to send a quick “thinking of you”.  Those little bits of data meant so much to me, and helped me to remember that just when you think you’re most alone, someone else is going through or has been through this very same feeling – these same tears and crazy mix of emotions.  That’s what keeps me in check when my normally optimistic and cheerful personality goes out the window, lost in all these tears.  I take a breath, and remember that every moment brings me a tiny step closer to not hurting so much.  Every minute is a minute moving forward.  This doesn’t mean anything is being taken away from her passing on, it means that we are learning. We are growing, and hopefully healing.  You just take another step.
I keep staring at this keyboard, trying to think of what the perfect combination of words would be, but nothing seems right.  I could tell you about the good times that Gram and I had – the games we played, the puzzles we solved, the things we made together.  She didn’t always let me win, by the way.  J  I could tell you about the many Sundays we enjoyed with our House of Prayer church family, or about how she used to drive me to school in that big blue boat of a Buick.  Gram was a pretty alright lady.  J
Mom and I discussed reading from cards or condolences sent, but what else can one say?  “I’m sorry” doesn’t cover it.  “I’m sorry” is one of those funny phrases that seems to fit in everywhere and nowhere.  It’s a tough one.
Don’t get me wrong – we appreciate it!  If you’ve known any of us that lived in “That House on The Corner”, then you know that if there’s one thing we love, it’s talking to everyone.  Those words, those “I’m Sorry’s”, sent across the miles from one ear to another, they mean SO much, but they are one of those things to say when you don’t have anything else.  So we don’t want you to be sorry.  If you’re sad right now, if you’re struggling, don’t be sorry.  Be happy.  Take a breath and think, “Would Larine be sad right now?’
I think she’d only be sad to see us all sitting here sadly, when we should be celebrating.  We should be celebrating the fact that we’re here being family in so many senses of the word.  We should be celebrating each moment that we have with each other, strengthening our relationships and family ties – celebrating the fact that she no longer has to struggle with health problems.  There are no more doctors, no more pills, no more problems.  Only peace.
Look at us.  There have been more people hugging and visiting with each other than I can recall in any memory.  We’re a bit more teary-eyed than we should be, but we’re alive, and we’re here, and we’re loved.  The people who have come out to show support have been completely amazing. They’ve raised the bar.  They’ve BEEN the bar.  I have so much love for and am incredibly impressed by so many people right now that I don’t have words for it.  I love and appreciate ALL of you who’ve shown support, but a special mention goes to my dearest friends Brandi, Miss Ella, Lindsay, Daren, India, Toni, Maria, Wanda, Vic, and also the RMU crew.  Also, so much love goes to my wonderful husband Jason, who has supported me beyond words found even in the Scrabble dictionaries.
Gram would be so happy right now to see everyone; all of us talking, laughing, having a good time.  It would be like Christmas from twenty years ago; brothers – cousins – uncles – all in the living room, candy dishes out, jokes all around.  I think she’d be so surprised and so excited to see all the people in one spot, getting along and just having a good time.  If you ever told her (for example) that her husband’s sister and her granddaughter’s husband would one day sit down and chat like old friends, I think she would have been just pleased as punch.  She might have made some cookies, and asked – or maybe demanded – that we all sit down and have some right now (before the dog got to them).
So that’s what we’re getting at here.  This event is sad, it’s traumatic, but it’s not the end.  It’s the beginning – the beginning of remembering good times and hopefully making many more.  If she could, I know she’d walk in, clapping her hands, and tell us in that excited voice about how happy she is to see us all.  So remember the good times with Mom… with Gram…  with Larine.

Don’t be sad.  Just take a breath, and know how much you are loved.  It’s what she would want.


short version

you guys know how i got all nostalgic in my last post going on about libraries, and how i was all “mememe, b.f. jones library, mememe, so awesome”. well, it got me thinking how much i should really go back to PA and visit, spend some quality time looking at architecture, etc etc.

anyway, so my gram went from being kind of not in the best health to unresponsive on life support in critical care over the span of about a week (which i just found out yesterday), so instead of going back to PA in like … a month, my mom booked a flight this afternoon and i am leaving tomorrow for six or seven days. to hang out in my old glorious hometown, the prestigious aliquippa.  yes i’ll get to see some friends, eat at places i love, MAYBE maybe maybe even go to kennywood on monday (please let that happen), but most of the time i’ll be sitting in the hospital. or sitting at my mom’s house.

i am less than excited about all of this.

here, have some links:

Wiki entry

Beaver County Times Online (our local paper)

My hometown school district


A lot of the town looks like this.

I believe this is “down West”, aka down in West Aliquippa.

good ol’ franklin ave, in downtown ‘quip.

Most of downtown looks like this.

and of course, a google map. i lived right by Lefty Cepull baseball field. on main street.  anytown, usa, right?  right. it was.

anyway. i also wanted a break from work, you know, in that way where people are like “yeah i love having a job but you know it’d be nice to be like, sipping a cold beverage on the beach whilst my manservant asks me if i need to have the palm fronds fan me a little faster”.  not in that “oh, 90 degrees AND 75% humidity AND scattered thunderstorms, hanging out in a hospital, trying to cope with really sad times” way.

so maybe next time i wish for something, i should specify exact parameters, right?

i also send out many many thanks to the lovely cristy carrington lewis because SHE AWARDED ME WITH AWARDS and that totally made my day. it made me all fuzzy. 🙂 so …when i get back from this (what is sure to be) a very hectic/hellish week, then i will write up something awesome. unless i luck out and my mom actually A) has a working computer that B) connects to the internet.

you all stay classy. i’ll be around.

There Are Other Worlds Than These

I’ve been in such a strange mood lately; feeling very isolated and forgotten about, but at the same time feeling very much on the cusp of some extensive rush of productivity.  I’m crossing my fingers that a creative leaf is about to be turned, and that I won’t go into some all-encompassing cave of depression, but this ‘calm before the storm’ has occurred many times before and it goes either way.  I’d like to get some drawings out of it, in any case.

In researching for the mural I’d like to do outside, I found these two links and they made me very happy.

Tiny children’s book hand drawn for Queen Mary’s doll’s house to be published in human size

Queen Mary’s five foot tall Dolls’ House opens its tiny doors to the public

Look how happy she is.  Yes, I too would be grinning.  Miniature things, dollhouses, secret passages, hidden staircases… it all makes me feel …proper.  As if life isn’t complete without a good secret.

I grew up going to the B. F. Jones library.  Here are a few interior shots – sadly, there is not much online, but it was really a great place.  I’m thankful it’s still there.


1930 interior shot of the lobby.


It wasn’t hi-tech.  It didn’t have clean, modern lines.  It was The Library, and it always felt like home.

It’s part of the reason why I love things like Moonmist, or Alice in Wonderland, or the Secret Garden, or anything that allows me to escape from everything else… life isn’t much without the possibility of something else.  Somewhere you can go where there isn’t anyone except you.

Do I want a dollhouse?  Absolutely.

Do I want the cheap, crappy, plastic version?  No.

I want a dollhouse that doesn’t need dolls.


And maybe a secret garden, to boot.


Today, I am on break.

By ‘break’ I mean: taking a day for myself, prepping for the week ahead, during which this aforementioned ‘break’ may stretch into the next few days.  Doing housecleaning, something that – in favor of the events of the past few weekends – has been woefully neglected.  My house is a disaster.

There’s a zen in cleaning, so I’m open for that.  Right after this cup of china jasmine tea (with honey).

I don’t have to research anything, paint anything, draw anything, go anywhere, meet anyone… I don’t even have to SHOWER.  True, there is really no food here other than oatmeal, fruit, a red pepper and some hummus, but my throat is bugging me (oh no!) so oatmeal is doable.  Food shopping will be after the tea.

Let’s not talk about how my intent upon waking was to sit on the floor, tea steaming next to me in the watery sunlight (woohoo for a cooler day today), and meditate for 20 minutes, which instead turned into a frantic “Oh no, kitty’s trying to rip out the screen and escape and where IS the honey and why is there so much fluff on the floor and all I want is some cereal but there is neither milk nor cereal not to mention all the spoons are dirty.”

I just gave up and put on a Harry Potter movie.

After several years, it doesn’t color-change as well as it should, but it’s still one of my favorite mugs. (I don’t think it’s microwave safe, even though the print on the mug says it is.)


I’ve made the executive decision for today to be a Potterthon – I have four (or five?) of the movies and will have them playing in the background all day.  If I get inspired to draw something, so be it, but my goal today is not to have any plan (besides vacuuming and getting clothes put away).  I love scheduled breaks.  🙂

Part of why it’s so nice to do nothing is because this weekend I coordinated a wedding (shoutout: CupcakeCoordination).  Verdict: thumbs up! It was for almost 300 guests, and despite some technical snags (the PA system didn’t play music at first, the DJ showed up 3 hours late and we had to have the band introduce the bridal party), it turned out to be quite fun and a great time for all involved.  I hope I get some more events like that – but it’ll need to be on a day where it doesn’t start just as my shift at work is ending.

Everyone was happy, and that’s what I wanted.  🙂