To Remember…

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“We don’t remember the days, we remember moments” – Cesare Pavese

My grandpa now rests in peace in heaven with my grandma, after 16 years of being apart. This past weekend marked the start of a life without any living grandparents.  It has been a whirlwind of emotions for everyone and the thing that it sparks the most emotion from me is the monument of it all.  Whenever I’d visit my grandpa, I’d experience moments where my grandma would shine through and for that moment, it felt as if I’d had both grandparents there.  I won’t have those moments anymore, the moments that make you all warm and cozy inside, the moments where you say to yourself “I need to tell my grandparents about that”.

My grandparents have given our large family so many memories over the years.  Memories we will remember and cherish the rest of our lives.  My grandparents have shaped many lives including my own and were models of service to a lot of people.  They leave behind 12 children, 10 sons and daughters-in-law, 36 grandchildren and 33 great grandchildren.  Growing up in a large family has played a large part in who I am today and the values I hold today. The passing of my grandfather really made me reflect on all those special memories I have of my grandparents, something I feel that I haven’t really done since my grandmother passed 16 years ago.

img_8691“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” – Michael J. Fox

I remember the kindergarten pickup line where grandpa picked me up everyday with a brand new package of cookies.  They were the frosted oatmeal one’s from Aldi’s.

img_8694I remember going down the street to Keiter’s farm on a cold winter day to help grandpa collect sap from the trees to bring back to the barn and make into maple syrup.  He always made sure we had a cup of fresh syrup in our hand to try (and to warm us up).img_8690Actually, when I think of sap from trees, my first memory is thinking of the row of pine trees to the side of your house that Danielle and I would play house under.  Those trees were very sappy and I always got the sap on my clothes, which annoyed mom.

Every Sunday, after church, my siblings and I would walk down to the church basement to find grandma cooking dinner for the priests and grandpa, back in the “dark room” counting money from the collection that day.  Some Sundays grandpa would let me go back there with him a few times to help count.  He made me laugh when he would hide a bag of bills in the ceiling rafters that contained the “leftover” change from that Sunday.  He would only deposit whole amounts to the bank each week.

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Grandma taught my 2nd grade CCD class every Saturday morning.  I still remember her vividly standing in front of the room, teaching us our prayers, and the class reciting the questions and answers in our book “Who made me? God made me.  Why did God make you? God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with him forever in the next”.

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During the summer my siblings and I would spend every day at my grandparents house and we always looked forward to afternoon snack time when grandma would make us popcorn and let us watch All Dogs Go to Heaven or the Waltons (the only two movies they seemed to ever own – besides Sound of Music which none of the boys ever agreed to watch).  Grandma would send us to the basement or outside and would sometimes sneak away to enjoy a soap opera (The Young and the Restless) while drinking black coffee, in one of those yellow plastic mugs with ridges, that are stained coffee.

14195333_10103431161187485_5053484212297024427_oI don’t look at a garden anymore and not think of you grandma.  My knowledge of gardening, which isn’t much, comes from you.  Always till before planting, leave your garden shoes outside by the front door, and don’t be afraid of garden snakes.  Although I’m still afraid of any snake.  I once saw grandma use a shovel to chop a snake in half because it was in your garden. That image is vividly in my head forever.

14224944_10101900171563146_7539979728703820930_nI share my birthday with my grandma and mom.  I have a picture from every year with all three of us on our birthdays.  I will always remember those two women on my birthday.

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Canning food was a lifestyle.  My grandmother had a whole room, about the size of my office at work, that was storage for canned food.  Even in the end of winter, that room was fully stocked.  Everything was from her garden.  The aroma that filled the house during canning season will never be forgotten.

img_8693Often times my grandma would feed all of us cousins dinner.  I know she probably cooked other things but all I ever remember eating over there was spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce and ground meat mixed in. It was a bland dish but for some reason all of us loved it.

14138717_10101898187843536_5153573327143595524_oMy grandpa’s favorite candy was the fireballs he would always buy in bulk at the Farmer’s Fleet down from his house.

My grandma would give herself perms.  I remember the little blue rollers she’d put in her hair, rolled up real tight.  The little spray bottle that she would use to put some sort of liquid on every strand.  I wish there was a device to capture smell.  I don’t know what the smell of that liquid stuff was but I’m sure if I’d smell it again it would bring me back to that moment in her house watching her in awe.

img_8695Grandpa loves playing cards.  Every party or gathering, he’s the first to the table to play euchre or hands and feet.  He’s also really good at math which I think aids in him being a great card player.

14238279_10103431132370235_4376071709159478342_nEvery Easter Grandma always made a 3-D lamb cake for those at church.  I was always so impressed.

14212081_10103431133512945_1850807120669668157_nI would play house and school with my cousins for hours while over at my grandparents house.  We’d venture to the woods for a field trip, play house outside under the pine needle trees, use grandma’s broom to tidy up our house, and venture to the basement inside for school where there was a large chalkboard on the wall we practiced our words on.  We played house a lot.

img_8696When I was older, sitting outside or at the kitchen table snapping beans to get ready for canning.  Oh the amount of green beans that came from the garden.

dsc_5606One day, as a treat, I got to ride up to the neighbors with my grandma to pick blackberries.  She let me eat as much as I wanted. My tongue and clothes were stained.

“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” – Abraham Lincoln

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