Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Final Post -- Grammy's Eulogy

I was lucky enough to be asked by my Aunt to write and deliver the eulogy at Grammy's funeral mass. I can't think of a better way to cap off this blog than by making it the final post. Here's to you, Gram. I love you.

Lucy C. Orkwis
March 5, 1933 - April 30, 2012

Grammy.  What. A. Lady.  She really was one of a kind.  Others may claim their family members are one of a kind…but no, she really was.  I mean, how many people do you know of that unashamedly shove rolls and packets of butter into their pockets in a buffet line at a Family Reunion?  Although some might argue she and Uncle Bully did share a few noteworthy characteristics.  And boy did her face light up when she talked with him.  She had Aunt Cookie’s day-to-day schedule memorized…so if you were leaving a doctor’s office at 10 and you didn’t call her by 10:30, oh we heard about it!  And I can hear Aunt Jeanie calling the house now... ”Where’s your Grama?” –-hand Grammy the phone, “It’s Aunt Jeanie.”-- “What?”  She sure had a way with words, didn’t she?  But she was a sister.  A caring sister.  The big sister.  She wore that hat proudly.
This past week, I kept hearing everyone say, she was ‘Lucy & Al’ and she was ‘Grammy.’  Unfortunately I didn’t know her as part of the ‘Lucy & Al’ duo.  But those two personas seemed to be the ones she held closest to her heart. Of course she was a mother too! But even her own kids called her ‘Grammy’ or ‘Gram’ more than they called her ‘Mom’ for the past 20+ years or so.  As for her grandchildren:
David and Joey got chased the most with the wooden spoon.  And if she had the one with the spokes on it, that was used for spaghetti, then you knew they were REALLY in trouble!  All you guys had to do was pull up your pants! Danni and Jamie got the most back massages…lying across Grammy’s lap on the couch.  I’m not sure who enjoyed it more though, Grammy or them.  She claimed her hand would get sore, but I know she actually loved doing it.  Dylan was the baby for a long time until Joshua appeared 8 years ago.  Grammy scared Dylan into thinking he would get “PNEUMONIA” if he didn’t wear socks on our cold, tile, kitchen floor.  Josh said one of his favorite memories was watching a movie and making popcorn because Grammy would always hide a surprise piece of candy in the bottom of the basket for him.  And at some point or another, we ALL experienced having to sit on the glider in a time out for misbehaving in the pool!  Most likely for inadvertently getting a splash of water on Grammy’s glasses.  As for me, I was her gopher.  I’d gopher cigarettes. I’d gopher lottery tickets.  I’d gopher cans of tomato sauce from the pantry.  I’d gopher her laundry out of the dryer.  I’d do what she asked, without talking.  And that my friends, is how you become the favorite.  But honestly, even though these tasks were at times an inconvenience, I knew one day I would miss doing them.  I did all these things and more, because I knew one day, she wouldn’t be here to ask me to do these things anymore.
And that was the Grammy we knew.  If you asked her friends, they knew a whole different side of her.  They saw a generous, concerned, understanding, helpful, thoughtful, terrific person with nothing selfish about her.  In fact, when I asked her BINGO buddy Gayle, that was what she said, verbatim.  
Grammy & BINGO buddy Gayle in all their glory.
I know Grammy valued her life-long friendship with neighbors Jack and Mary.  When they visited, I always heard stories about the parties they would throw.  Her bowling buddy and chauffer, Cini, stopped by the house Tuesday morning to say she couldn’t make it today.  But what she shared with us was how much Grammy talked about her kids, and grandkids, and how proud of us she was…and how sometimes she would go out of her way, walk down 3 lanes at the bowling alley, to someone she didn’t even know, and tell him not to drop his shoulder and to follow through!
As for Grammy’s children, unfortunately the four of you are going to have to start making some adjustments.  Aunt Mare, you’re going to have to start peeling your own grapefruit and preparing your own spaghetti squash.  Aunt Cor, you’re going to have to start celebrating every one of your birthdays because you won’t have the luxury of being overshadowed anymore.  Uncle Fred, you’re going to have to find another Patriots fan to cheer against during football season.  Mom, you’re going to have to start making your own coffee in the morning and find something else to complain about besides the TV being too loud.  Basically what I’m saying is…I think it’s time to grow up.
If I could, I would tell Grammy this: I will forever cherish your words of wisdom, disgustingly odd cold remedies, age-old recipes, and techniques in the kitchen.  I will always know company is coming when a utensil accidentally hits the floor, and I promise to put Vicks on as soon as I feel a tickle in my throat.  I’ll make sure David gets only 3 pieces of brasciole and that regardless of what is for dinner, to have buttered noodles and broccoli for Danni.  I’ll call and check up on Aunt Tee Tee…maybe not every day like you did. But I will.  And I’ll bother Aunt Jeanie in the summer to get tomatoes from her garden. 
Grammy's 70th birthday present: this jersey.
I promise to bring out the Penn State cheerleader doll for every football game, and I’ll even cheer for the Patriots every once in a while too.  I’m not going to promise I’ll wash the dishes though.  And I can’t say honestly that I’ll watch the Polkas on Saturday nights either.  Nor will I frequent the 99Cent store as often.  We haven’t voted yet, but I’m going to nominate my mom to take your place as the garbage bag holder on Christmas, a duty I’m sure you’re happy to step down from.  She’s probably going to have to take on all of the house’s sewing projects too.  But I can say with confidence that the head chef position at 15 Law Street will never be filled.  And last but not least, I promise to introduce Monkey Bread and Celery Parmesan to as many people as possible.  I admired your willpower, drive, and determination to not let anything stop you, especially in the past 2 months.
She was lucky.  My Grammy.  In fact, she had all the luck in the world if you ask me.  Her heaping pile of losing lottery tickets and winless BINGO trips to Turning Stone Casino might say differently, but her luck was all around her.  Always.  It’s in this room right now.  And even if she didn’t say it often or at all, she knew. She knew how lucky she was.  And this week, with my grandfather by her side, she finally won the lottery.
The most recent photo of Grammy with all of her children & grandchildren, my college graduation party.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Grammy The Neighborhood Watchman

The following are a few of the noteworthy comments Grammy has made from her bird's-eye-view chair at the kitchen table as she gazes daily out our bay window...with a purpose:

Grammy: Oh, they're getting their lawn furniture out! They're gonna sit outside.

Grammy: The Smith's haven't had contractors at their house all day today. I haven't seen that white van.

Grammy: One of the Vandy's kids must be sick for days now…that car hasn't moved from the driveway.

Grammy: It's 1 o'clock in the afternoon! What is that kid doing on his swing set? Shouldn't he be in school?

Christmas Time
Grammy: Call over the Smith's; tell them their lights aren't turning on on half their porch.
Emilee: Gram, I'm sure they know.
-----1 week later-----
Grammy: Those lights still aren't working. What are they doing over there?
---> I finally send a very concerned text message to my friend across the street on behalf of Grammy. The next day, he's outside fixing the fuse.
Neighbor (yelling from across the street): Tell Grammy not to worry. We fixed it. Blew a fuse.
Grammy (that night): Hey! The lights are on! Alright!

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Slew of Birthday Commentary

I'll be posting these as they occur while they're fresh in my mind.

She sure is in rare form today. 
As I was taking the following pictures, she yells:
Grammy: Get off that phone while you're workin' with me!
Emilee: Ok ok ok!
Grammy: I know it can't be important 'cause you don't have a job!
(Ouch, burn. Thanks Gram.)
But it's not every day Grammy has a butcher knife in her hands. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to document this near amputee moment that might have been.
This was a fancy hat and jar of wine away from turning into a dangerous My Drunk Kitchen episode.
(Hi @harto.) Find out more about MDK here. You're welcome.

[Driving to the foot doctor.]
Grammy: I thought you'd be up early making me an omelette for my birthday.
(Naturally, because that's expected of me.)
Emilee: I couldn't sleep last night. I was up til 3am applying for jobs.
Grammy: Oh jeez. Where at?
Emilee: Philly.
Grammy: Oh THAT town.
(What? 10 second pause for shock and awe. Or rather, lack thereof because unfortunately I'm used to these kinds of reactions.)
Grammy: This is the warmest coat I own.

I can't make this stuff up.

Grammy: 79 Years Young Today!


Later today I'll be driving you to your foot doctor for your weekly treatment! Where you'll announce turn-by-turn directions from the passenger seat. Even though it literally takes a hop, skip, and a jump to get there. And I take you literally every week.  Meanwhile you'll complain that the seat belt is broken, and try to "hook it on" to my emergency break. Which is probably some sort of code violation and accident waiting to happen, but I wouldn't dare argue. I know better by now not to even have my cell phone in sight while driving with you in the car. Oh, and don't worry, I won't even turn on "that noise," so you won't have to yell at me to turn it down. (Happy Birthday.)

Here's the card I quickly put back on the shelf for you this year:

The much more appropriate one I did choose:

I hope you give me some good material at tonight's dinner.
I will forever cherish your words of wisdom, disgustingly odd cold remedies, and age-old recipes & "techniques" in the kitchen.
Despite what this blog may infer, I actually do love you a ton. I wouldn't have created this if I didn't want to show you off.

Happy Birthday from your favorite. =)
Maybe on your 80th birthday I'll tell you this exists. MAYBE.


!@#$ Grammy Does.
!@#$ Emilee Says. <3 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Grammy The Nurturer

A friend and I have been contemplating a move to Florida to find teaching jobs. She came over one afternoon, and we were doing some research on my computer at the kitchen table. Grammy sat at the other end of the table gnawing on her lunch. 

Emilee: Gram! We're gonna move to Florida!
Grammy: Well I'm not comin' ta visit ya...
(Pause to allow friend's jaw to drop)
Grammy: I've been there too many times.
(Pause to allow for quiet laughter)
Grammy: You better not get sick.
Emilee: What?
Grammy: Well, who's gonna rub the Vicks on ya?!

I should probably add that she didn't stop eating for a second.
!@#$ Grammy Says.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Grammy vs. Dentures

First I'd like to say that this is a constant battle. Mainly just keeping them in her mouth. Not in a "OMG my teeth fell out of my mouth mid-sentence!" kind of way. More in a "I take them out whenever I want without any consideration for others" kind of way. Seeing her lips caving into her mouth is NOT hot. (Picture to follow. Maybe.) At any rate, here goes...

[Went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast after bowling on Tuesday morning with a friend. Came home and could not wait to share this.]
Grammy: There was a sign in the bathroom! You know what it said? "Do Not Rinse Teeth In Sink" I can't go out to eat any more.

And she won't either. I should add 'stubborn' right next to miserable and old at the top of the page. Can I get a Amen?!
!@#$ Grammy Says.

The Conversation That Inspired This Blog

OK let me set the scene here. Just had a nice, pleasant family dinner. The coffee is on, and we're getting ready to relax at the table with some dessert. Grammy gets up and walks across the kitchen to the coffee pot...

Emilee: Gram, will you get me a cup too?
[Grammy slowly turns with disdain.]
Grammy: I like when you wash your hair and wear it down.
(As if that was a completely appropriate response to that inquiry.)
Emilee: So, if I wash my hair, you'll get me coffee? Is that what you're telling me?
[Without missing a beat...]
Grammy: Well if you're gonna get up and do that, you might as well get it yourself.

!@#$ Grammy Says

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