Monday, June 18, 2012


A funny old bird is the pelican.  
His beak can hold more than his bellican.
Food for a week
He can hold in his beak, 
But I don't know how the hellican.

We used to stand on the balcony of the 7th floor condo they would rent on the Atlantic every summer and watch the pelicans fly by.  Soar is a better word.  They soared by.  She told me once she was coming back as one.  That once she was gone, she'd be back, as a pelican.  

Three good days.  "I've had three good days in a row!" my grandmother exclaimed to me on the phone Sunday.  "Things are looking up."  We made plans for the fourth of July.  She was going to be well enough to walk to the club.  Have dinner with us.  Watch the fireworks with the kids.  I bought her some stuff at Sam's Club, you know, bulk.  Maybe.  Just maybe.  There was hope.  

She passed away this morning.  She's with my grandfather again.

Umpah and Grandma on her 80th birthday

My grandmother fought a hard, long fight.  Really long.  For years she's lived with a heart that wasn't strong enough to keep up with her.  Keep up with her golf game, bridge games, happy hours, holiday parties.  And it finally gave up.  Or maybe her heart served it's purpose.  Maybe once my Grandfather died it was done.  Maybe it was broken.  It's probably all of these things.  

"Corey, you give that handsome husband a kiss for me, ok?"

I am so lucky.  For 31 years I knew and loved and spent time with my grandmother.  She saw me graduate from high school, and college.  She was at my wedding.  She knew my kids.  They knew her.  Things happen for a reason.  We moved to Tampa a year ago for a reason, not just for a job opportunity.  A reason much greater than that.  How lucky am I to have spent the last year of my grandmother's life, living 10 minutes away?  I am so lucky.

Umpah, Grandma and my family (with baby girl in my belly) 2010

For a while now we've been preparing for this.  And she kept on keeping on.  I said goodbye to her half a dozen times. I know that my Grandma died knowing how much I love her.  Cause I got to say it.  I am so lucky.

"I married him for better or for worse but not for lunch."

When someone is dying, you think about what you will remember. What you want to remember.  What you want to hold on to.  And never forget.

I will not ever go to the beach without thinking of her.  No one loved the beach more than my Grandmother.  No one.  Her toes in the sand.  The sun warming her skin.  No one loved it more.  And the same goes for golf.  My Grandmother loved to play golf.  And played almost until the day she died.  85 years old.  Not many 85 year olds can say that.

"What in the world?!?!"

She loved the holidays.  Every single one.  Valentine's day.  St. Patrick's day.  Especially Christmas.  No inch of her house went undecorated.  Actually no inch of her went undecorated either.  She was the queen of seasonal wear.  Earrings. Necklaces. Outfits.  She was the first one to get her Christmas cards out, every year. She's probably the reason I want my tree out before the Thanksgiving dishes are done.  She loved to celebrate.  And didn't ever need a reason but loved having a holiday theme to tie to any celebration.  

Thanksgiving 2011, couldn't let anyone else make the turkey

Making Christmas cookies with Cannon, 2011

I will never eat Neapolitan ice cream without thinking of her (in fact, now I'll eat in in honor of her).  She'd give it to us in a coffee cup.  Not a bowl.

"Oh hi dear. How are my babies?"

I got scoliosis from my Grandmother.  I mean I guess technically I got it from my Dad who got it from her.  Not normally something you would mention after someone you love dies (like, 'oh yeah, those bunions, those are genetic, got those from grandpa bob') but I share this with good reason.  Having scoliosis and having a spinal fusion when I was 14 made me who I am today.  It's not life threatening, but it's life altering.  I learned how strong I am, what I can do if I put my mind to it, and what I am capable of taking on.  Thanks to her.  She would never look at it that way but I do.  I'm so grateful to have gotten scoliosis from her.

With Cannon at the zoo, 2011

Her eyes.  Both of my Grandmothers had blue eyes.  No one else has them.  Not me, not my husband, my parents, his parents.  I will not ever look into my daughter's blue eyes without thinking about Grandma.  Every time we went over there she'd say, "Corey, her eyes are still blue" with a giant smile on her face.  Those eyes, by the way, are going to help medical research.  Her heart might not have been worthy but those beautiful blue eyes were more than worthy.

Giving Cannon a bike for Christmas 2011

I will hold onto these memories and many more forever.  I want my kids to grow up knowing who GG is.  And knowing how much she loved them.

With my sweet blue eyed girl, Christmas 2011

I don't know how long it takes to get used to someone being gone.  With my grandfather it was different.  He was mentally gone long before he died.  It's going to take a long time.  Cause I can't call her anymore.  Or just drop by and say hi.  It's weird.  Doesn't feel real.

But it is very real.  She's gone.  If you could squeeze memories in your arms and hold onto them for dear life, that's what I'm doing right now.

It's going to take a while.

It's going to come in waves.  Like the ocean at the beach she loved so very much.

We will celebrate her the way she wanted to be celebrated.  She told me in no uncertain terms that there was to be no funeral.  She wanted a party.  A big party.  And we are going to have one.  For her.  Because hers is a life worth celebrating.  A love worth celebrating.  A journey worth celebrating.  Because she's my Grandma and she deserves it.

Grandma, I love you more than words could ever say.  I hope the sun is warm, the greens well manicured and the beer cold.  I'll keep my eye out for soaring pelicans.

Friday, June 1, 2012

to those who dream, there's no such place as faraway.

Life is funny.  Not in a 'ha ha' kind of way.  More in a 'really? this was the plan?' kind of way.  And sometimes in a 'I want to punch you in the face' kind of way.

Today I want to punch life in the face.  I want to ask it, why the hell this way?  If this was the plan all along, why put her through this?  Cause this was NOT fair.  This is NOT the way anyone would want to spend the last few months of life.  This sucks.

8.  The number of times my Grandma has been in the hospital since February.
Dozens.  The number of times her defibrillator has fired, shocking her back to life while simultaneously literally knocking her on her ass.  
8.  The number of miraculous recoveries she made.  Leading us all to believe, each time, that maybe, just maybe she'd play a little more golf and drink a few more Miller Lite's.  
6.  The number of times I said bye to her.  

The defibrillator is off now.  She's in hospice care.  Comfortable.  Resting.  Not sure she'll rally again this time.  No one expects her to.  This has been a long, hard fight.

I want to punch life in the face.  But I also want to thank life.  There aren't a lot of people whose grandparents get to meet their kids.  And what about the people who don't get to say 'bye' one time, let alone half a dozen?  I got to tell her, to her face, what a great grandmother she has been.  How much I love her.  How whenever I'm at the beach I will think of her.  And whenever I see a pelican soaring, I'll know, it's her.  I got to tell her that I will make sure my kids remember who GG is.  I got to tell her it's ok.  It's ok if she can't fight anymore.  I got to say those things.  Look her in her blue eyes and tell her.  I love her.

Not everyone is that lucky.