Saturday, October 6, 2012
I loved my grandmother so much... and still do, that I am almost at a loss for words as to what I can even say that will do justice to her and how much she means to me and how much I Love her. She was truly like a best friend to me, and I her. A long time ago, I bought her a little, white, guardian angel bear and when you pressed it's stomach it would say, (in a cute little voice), "I'm your guardian angel... I'm your special friend! She Loved this gift so much, and it was priceless to her... and throughout the years, she would play it to me on the phone and would tell me that I was like her guardian angle and best friend. We were very close, (as I am her only granddaughter and my children are her only great-grandchildren).
When we went to her house to visit her a few weeks ago, while she was very sick, shorty before God called her Home, she was in her home where she lived with my grandfather, and she spent most of her time on the couch where she could be as comfortable as possible, and still be around the family and friends there visiting with her. She was happy to see all of us, but, I believe most especially happy to see her two beautiful great-grandaughters!!!
Seeing them and holding them made her so very happy and the smile on her face and Light in her eyes that their presence brought to her was just priceless! Audrey's special gift to Nanny was... (just like I did when I was younger...), she wanted to give Nanny the special gift of song and dance to light up her day and make her a little bit happier. Thus, she insisted that I and Grave too, sing and dance with her for Nanny... (all kinds of songs), though, she kept coming back to one of her favorites... "Oh, Mister Sun, Sun, Mister Golden Sun... please shine down on Nanny!" And when Audrey said, "Nanny," she would gesture her hands towards Nanny, like a true show girl! It was so touching and endearing... and I know it really touched and blessed my grandmother's heart!!! <3
My grandmother was a classy lady. She was a very stong person, who like me, had been through some very difficult and challenging times, and she would often remind me, throughout my life, during my most difficult and trying times, how stong I was as well... and that she believed in me and knew that, "With the help of God," (as she always would say...), "I know you will make it through this, because you are strong like me, and we come from strong stock!" :)
It is God's help, His Grace and favor that make us strong indeed, and I believe we have both learned throughout our lives just what the Bible says... that when we are at our weakest... we are at our strongest... becuase, truly, "God's Grace is enough!!!" :) My grandmother was always praying for me, and me her. And we will contine to do this still.
We of great Faith, although, sad for a time because we are going to miss her... know and believe that her soul is in God's Loving care... and truly, certainly without a doubt... he will raise her to eternal Life and we surely shall see her again.
And so today, again, though sad for a time, is not a day of deep sorrow, (at least not for me and my daughters), but a day of JOY... as we rejoice in the fact that God I am sure said to her, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" and we need not say, "goodbye," but rather, "until we meet again!"
I will always remember her sharp and witty sense of humor... and sweet things she would always say, such as, "No where to lie..." and when somebody would sneeze, she would say, "God bless... it's true!" I will miss her frequent phone calls just to say, "Hello," how happy it always made me to hear her voice and how she endearingly would say my name, in her wonderful New York accent... and so much more! Yet, these precious memories are not lost but will live on in my heart and in the hearts of all who Loved her, forever more!
It was so very special for my daughters to be able to know their Great Grandmother. It was a true honor and privilege and I am sure they will cherish the memories we have made with her as well as all the pictures and videos I will show them as they grow older.
We LOVE you, Nanny, so much, more than we may have ever known, and we will continue Loving you and praying for you forever more! Please remember to pray for us too, as I am sure you already have and will continue to.
May God's perpetual Light and Love continue to shine down upon you always... Amen! :)
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
To some, I am sure that might not mean much, though, I can guarantee, that for those this doesn't mean much to, they will be thinking very differently about these meaningful words of Jesus at the end of their life if they are blessed enough to have such time to think of these words.
I say this because my beloved grandmother was called Home to be with our Lord in Heaven this past Wednesday and we have spent the last few days at the services of her wake, (and viewing), and yesterday, at Church for her funeral Mass.
Both of my daughters, Audrey and Grace were there as well as some of my family members, and friends of our family and my grandparents. This was the first experience of the death of a Loved one that my daughetrs had to face, and of course, Baby Grace, at just 5 months, was a little bit too young to at least verbalize how she felt about it all, my precious daughter, Audrey, at 2 1/2 was very much a part of all of it, taking every bit of it in and then expressing in her own, special, innocent way how she felt about it all.
My parents, my 2 daughters and myself have been here in Southern Florida visiting with my grandparents for about the past 20 days or so. We came here to visit and stay at my grandparent's home because my grandmother was very ill and we didn't know how much longer she had on this Earth to live, (as none of us know for sure), though, we wanted to come and visit her... to help brighten her days and help her to feel better which she did.
She Loved seeing us, and most especially visiting with Baby Grace and Audrey! Grace Loved to kiss her on the cheek, which made my grandmother so happy and Audrey and I sang her little songs and danced for her which she Loved as well. Though, even though, her spirit was uplifted her body was getting tired and was not recovering. Hope Hospice came in to help and shortly after, she was brought to their Hope House for the last days of her life here on Earth.
At the wake... as soon as Audrey saw our grandmother, whom we call, "Nanny," she said, "Mama... Nanny is born!" and she said this several times. I was so touched, even if someone else might not have known what she was talking about... I did! And I said, "Yes, Audrey, she is born to Eternal Life!" What a beautiful message God inspired Audrey to deliver! Out of the mouth of babes! :)
Audrey was so sweet at the wake, as she kept going up to the casket and touching Nanny's hand, and saying, "Mama, I want to hold Nanny's hand!" and "Mama, look... Nanny has a rosary!" and "Mama, Nanny is not sick any more!" She also, (when she thought no one was looking, perhaps), took her binki, (pacifier), her most favored and beloved, "yellow blanki," and her stuffed animal bear and placed them in the far end of the casket near Nanny's feet. I waited a moment before asking her to remove them. I was so touched at the sentiment... that was her own, special way of saying, I Love these things... they belong to me and I want you to have them!" It was really quite touching and sweet.
I had the privilege and honor of singing at my grandmother's funeral Mass, as the cantor. This was something quite familiar to me, as a Church cantor having cantored at Mass, weddings and funerals for over 6 years. I also had the honor and privilege of singing at my brother, George's funeral Mass in this same Church 18 years ago so this was extra-special to me.
I really thought that Audrey and Grace would be OK with me being the cantor and not being able to sit with them during the Mass, because Grace is still so small and often times sleeps through Mass and is very quiet even when she's awake and Audrey never seemed to have much of a problem with me, (except for one time), singing in Mass with the choir, while she sat with my parents. Though, all that I can say is... as much as you can plan and or envision something to go one way or another... the fact is... it's gonna just go the way it's gonna go... and ultimately, God is in control... ands when we TRUST in Him and His Divine Providence and Wisdom.... it really is ALL good, as they say!
That being said... I was up on the padella at the ambo, singing, our prelude, "Let There Be Peace On Earth," and the doors to the back of the chapel where the Mass was open and my grandmother's casket was there, the priest was there, my family... and there was my precious Audrey crying, "Mama!!! I want Mama!!!" with big, big tears running down her face! I felt so bad, I wanted to cry myself! And still, what could I really do, other than sing, other than stop singing and run to the back of the chapel to rescue her... (which wasn't far from my mind, BTW!). I hoped that she would stop crying, but had a feeling she wouldn't at that point so I just prayed that someone would be kind enough and compassionate enough to bring her to me! God heard my prayer, quite quickly and within what seemed like moments, her gently took her by the hand and walked her up the padella to me.
The next thing I know, I have her on my hip and we were both singing together. It was actually very sweet considering the circumstances... of how well she had done up until that point of being away from home and her friends and her classes at the YMCA for so long, being in my grandparent's house, watching her great-grandmother die and having to listen to the crying that followed and sorrow that filled the house. My mom and grandfather were crying at the funeral Mass and they are, "grown-ups," and so it only made sense that a little 2 1/2 year old would cry as well, and want her Mama.
It was fine that she was up there with me, and at times walking around on the padella. A few other people seemed to have a problem with it, but... I just hope and pray that Jesus will touch their hearts with His LOVE for the little children and His Truth! Even the dear priest commented on how the tears of little children and Joy, (as she was dancing near my grandmother's casket), can be God's Presence. Truly they are. He didn't mind in the slightest like I know some other priests would have. So He was a really blessing to us that day... and truly showed us all what Jesus is all about! He filled Jesus' shoes that day and I will be forever grateful for it! :)
I have to say, while we were up there singing, I looked out a the faces out there in the congregation and many of the faces were stunned to say the least. They just looked to me as if they were thinking, "Well, I have never attended a funeral Mass quite like this before!!!" And I have to say, after the Mass was done, almost every single person came up to me and hugged and kissed me and told me what a beautiful voice I had, (and Audrey too... who BTW ended up singing the entire Ave Maria with me, on key and unrehearsed!!!), and what a great job I did. They didn't in the least say they were annoyed by Audrey's crying or presence up there! And that they knew my grandmother was so proud of me! Thanks be to God for people with hearts for Jesus!!!!! Amen!!! Amen!!! Amen!!!
So, yes, my grandmother's funeral Mass most certainly did not go as they way I had expected or hoped, but, I truly believe it went exactly as God wanted it to go... and my heart is touched with Love, Joy and even holy Laughter and I am sure the hearts of others were as well, and I think that is how God wanted it.
My grandmother, as Audrey so sweetly reminded me... "is no longer sick!" Indeed she is no longer sick but enjoying the riches and blessings of Heaven with our dear Lord of Love!!! She is still very much a part of us and with us and always will be! We LOVE her very much... she will be missed, but, truly she IS with us and praying for us as we pray for her!