Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Long Road Home

Eleanor "Floreine" Moffitt
May 16, 1915 - January 20, 2009

My Grandma, my Mom's mom, passed away today. I'm sad. Definitely sad, but there is a part of me that puts it into perspective--she lived to see and do so much.

I think I'm missing what was and mourning what used to be. Grandma had a long, amazing life, but Alzheimers took her from us a long time ago. So she hasn't really been Grandma for many years. We have actually prayed for many years that she would just slip quietly away and be free of the mind-stealing disease. Today we got our wish.

Does that sound weird to wish someone would pass on?

Instead of thinking about her these last years, I smile and remember her as she was: sweet; loving; sometimes silly; could fall asleep anywhere (including on the toilet and she actually fell off and broke her foot); teacher; wearer of rain hats to protect her hair (which she had "done" at the beauty parlor); always had mints, Wrigley's gum and tissues in her purse; a neat freak; slow eater; loved to eat out; well traveled; loved to shop; never documented checks she wrote in the checkbook, thus driving my Grandpa crazy; letter writer extraordinaire; liked to clip things from the newspaper and send them to us; member of church choir; woman of faith; loved Lillian Vernon's Eucalyptus Drops; never met a Marie's Candy she didn't like; aged gracefully; great giggle; patient; kind; perfect grammar (she was an English teacher); very organized; crazy neat; called toppings for ice cream "dope"; had a dedicated circle of friends called The Harem--my Grandpa drove them all around; mother; sister; daughter; aunt; grandma; great grandma; an amazing influence on my life.

My friends often didn't understand how much I loved to spend time with my Grandparents--I mean, who would want to hang out with old people? Me. As kids, we visited all of our Grandparents frequently--they were/are a huge part of my life. When I was old enough to drive, I visited even more often, spending the weekend with Grandma and Grandpa and their friends--eating out, going to church, playing Rummikub or Scratch, eating popcorn, grilling chicken, and watching some of their favorite shows like Matlock or Walker, Texas Ranger. Still makes me giggle. Usually they fell asleep during the shows. At night, they snored so loud I could hear them upstairs where I slept in my Mom's old room. They got up between 5am and 6am every morning because they had "things to do."

Grandma was a great correspondant. Tonight I dug out some of the cards she sent me while I was in graduate school. I'm so glad I kept them. Her newsy letters full of updates on their health, what they were doing, who they were doing it with, where they were going, and yes, even what they were eating still make me smile.

A little selection. . .

May 27, 1992
Dear Natalie,
Never worry your pretty head about being tardy (note: I bet you anything I sent her birthday card late!). We just enjoy your letters, so full of humor and exciting things that you and Andrea are doing.

Make your plans to visit us whenever you can. You will fit into our schedule perfectly. Whatever we do, you can join us. Don't even consider frozen meals. We always have some of those in the freezer! Ha! But of course, we want to drop in at Millner's, The Plaza Inn, and wherever your grandpa sees fit to take us.

We are almost ready to leave for Bellefontaine to see Howard Traul. He is working on our will and other special papers. We'll see Dortie and so some errands before returning to West Mansfield.

On Sunday we went to Kenton to see Gerri. She is well enough to be in a room now instead of ICU. However, she is not able to come home yet. In fact, she may need nursing home care for a few weeks. A good friend and a very plucky lady!

I must not keep gramps waiting! Our best to you and Andrea.

Your Grandparents

September 29, 1992
Dear Natalie,
Days speed by for you, too; we are certain. Lately we have been visiting Dr. Gleason. First I had a muscle problem in the left hip which he cured. Second, your grandpa showed evidence of high sugar and this proved to be a fact. Now, we are doing serious dieting, having met once with the dietician at Mary Rutan. Hopefully the sugar will be controlled, and we'll lose weight. Yesterday, he developed a severe sore throat so back to the dotor and now a round of antbiotics. We don't give up; we just rely on the dr.

There are some activities of importance this week, so we want a quick cure! At the moment your gramps is waiting for me to finish so he can go for the mail.

We hope that school is going well and that you like your new apartment.

Grandpa and Grandma

April 14, 1993
Dear Natalie,
For some reason, we did not give you this check when we saw you briefly upon our return home (note: they were always sending little checks to us. Do you think she suspected I spent most of it on beer?). Perhaps there is something which you need for your apartment. Enjoy it no matter how you spend it.

We are looking forward to seeing you on Sunday. This is proving to be the same type of week as usual--busy. I am just happy that we are able "to keep on keeping on." Also, we are anxious to hear about your new experiences.

Grandpa and Grandma

May 22, 1993
Dear Natalie,
Congratulations! Your 3.8 record is great, but we know your potential (note: this must have been big news in West Mansfield because with this letter I also found a card from their neighbor congratulating me on my grades).

This week has been the usual busy one. I really worked on the final preparation for Bible Study at Circle. Then Marge Reames was ill, so I did a halfway job of cleaning inside while your grandpa worked on the lawn and swept the walk. Last night the "gang" was here for cards after we ate at The Red Lantern. As always, we had fun.

Today we are taking several sacks of newspapers to the recycling center at Rushsylvania. Then we plan to deliver Mona Dally's birthday gift and visit for awhile. Perhaps we'll get to Heartland, too.

We look forward to seeing you on May 29.

Grandpa and Grandma

Me with Grandma and Grandpa--December '93 (I think it's '93. My Dad always said I should write on every single picture or I'd regret it. Dang it. Parents are always right.)

Aha! This date I know: December 21, 1996--our wedding.

Grandma and Grandpa holding Declan--June 2000 (the date was imprinted on the picture--I lucked out)

Grandma with Finn--Spring 2003

I cannot wait to get home to Ohio and be with my sisters and my Mom so we can share stories and giggle uncontrollably at our memories. Like the time Grandma ate dogfood. Or how she called Grandpa "Barney" (his name was Byron). Or how we would drive through the countryside, she and Mary Huffman in the backseat giggling like teenagers and recounting who lived in what farmhouse and little tidbits of information (never gossip!) about the residents. Or the time Grandpa drove me to a particular road in the country because "something special happened there." Me: "Was that the first time you and Grandma made out?" Grandpa: Gave me a withering stare (I think he was trying not to laugh). Grandma: Giggling uncontrollably in the backseat. Turns out they were actually driving in their car and were caught in a tornado on that road.

I'm so lucky. I got to experience a relationship with my grandparents, all of them, into adulthood. Three of them saw me get married and met my first child. To say I had a close relationship with all of my grandparents is an understatement--they were an instrumental part of my life, and I'm so grateful.

There are things I'm glad she wasn't aware of when they happened--9/11, when grandpa died, Finn's cancer. She was wise, but innocent and she would wonder about people suffering. I'm glad she didn't have to wonder about some of these things.

Grandma, I can still hear your your laugh; I can still see your smile; I can feel your hands rubbing my back; I see you standing in the kitchen, looking out at the backyard as you washed the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher. A lifetime of memories--all of them wonderful. Although you left a long time ago, losing you again is still so hard.


MakesMeSmile said...

Natalie, so very sorry for your loss. What a touching post

Rosemary said...

I'm so sorry for your loss.. and so happy for you that you had that wonderful relationship.

Kristie said...

Ah, Natalie, I'm so sorry. But your post is a beautiful tribute to an obviously very special lady. My memories of my grandma are fewer. She died when I was only 25 ... I had lived away for the previous four years, and prior to that, wasn't as wise a teenager as you. My memories of her are fond, but I wasted a lot of years .... I'm so glad you don't have that regret. Safe travels home ....

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear about your Grandma. I always thought Floreine was one of the nicest ladies, always smiling. She was the consummate teacher, really enjoyed children who loved to learn (like me). How wonderful that you have her cards and letters to re-re-re-read. You have beautiful memories.

Denise Lyle

Leeann said...

What a beautiful, beautiful tribute to a clearly one of a kind Grandma.

I am so sorry for her passing but Natalie, I am also so glad that you have those memories and had that kind of a relationship with your Grandma. That is just amazing.

Love to you, girlfriend,

jean said...

You know that I always had a fondness for Grandma (and Grandpa) Moffitt. And I know that she really hasn't been 'grandma' for many years, but that doesn't make the loss any less. How great that you still have all of those letters and memories to cherish. Be sure to see Grandpa & give him a hug while you're there (here) visiting.

in a world surrounded by men said...

Oh Natalie, what a beautiful post. I cried for you guys, but mostly for your mom.

I think it is more natural for grandkids to lose a grandparent, but I don't feel it will ever feel natural to lose your mom.

Give her a hug for me when you see her. I just talked to Erin and I hope you guys have a FUN trip. I think your Grandma would want you to laugh and giggle together. Get some ice cream with dope!

Much love, Laurie

Cate said...

Alzheimers took my grandmother in 1992. She passed away in 2002. Ten long heart wrenching years. I was so relieved to learn that she too had simply slipped away. Her funeral was a celebration of her, who'd she been before Alzheimers stole her from us.

Know that my thoughts and prayers are with you.

~Thought's By Dena~ said...

This was very touching, and an awesome way to remember someone so close to your heart. *hugz*

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for your loss. My grandmother also had Alzheimer's, so I know what you mean about praying for a peaceful passing. It's hard to lose a grandparent once, but to lose one twice is awful. My thoughts are with you and your family. Your post was beautiful.


The Professional Bag Lady said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing some of your memories.

1dreamr said...

I am so very sorry. Hold your precious memories close, and let them bring you comfort. Know that we're all thinking of you and sending many hugs and prayers.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear about your grandma. You have some wonderful memories. I know losing a grandparent is saying good-bye to a huge part of childhood. i'm sorry for your Mom as well. Hope you have a safe trip to Ohio.

Love Karen

Missy in FL said...

Such a lovely post, a wonderful tribute to your grandmother. I had an amazing Granny, too. She passed away when my son (now 8) was 8 months old. I miss her every day. I have so many great memories, and reading your post brought so many back to me. Her letters to me, the money she'd send here and there to "buy yourself an ice cream!" She raised a man that today is my best friend, my daddy. My thoughts are with your family.

Anonymous said...

I grieve with you, Erin and Tara right now. I think I spent almost as much time with "Grandma & Grandpa Moffit" as you did--at least as kids. Many happy days spent with you three at their house (and Grandpa Garvin's) will always be special memories I'll treasure.
She was an awesome LADY.
Safe journey to Ohio.
Love, Cinda

P. S. Was the congratulations card from Mrs. Huffman?

Mamasita said...

What an awesome entry! You are truly blessed to have had her, and all of your grandparents in your life for so long. Many of us did not have that.

It was fun to read about her and "get to know her" a little. It is good that wrote all of this down - it will be fun reading for the boys as they get older.

Thank you for sharing her with us.