Friday, November 7, 2014

a post for you,

Norma Jean
December 20th, 1934 - September 7th, 2014

(this is going to be a long and emotional one)

I wanted to write this post much sooner... but I just couldn't find the words yet. There has been so much going on in my life that I didn't feel like I had the proper time to sit down and reflect on her life and what it really meant to me, until now. I went through old photos and found it very therapeutic and was finally able to really start piecing things together, so here we go... two months later...


Grandma Norma, Where do I even find the words to begin?

Recently my grandmother ended her battle with Parkinson's, which she had been valiantly fighting for well over a decade. Closer to two I believe. She was a strong and stubborn woman, a loving and selfless woman, who spoiled me and my little sister rotten (in the best way possible), and helped shape me into the person I am today. I will never stop missing her.


I am so so grateful that I was able to spend as much time as I did with her throughout my young life. Her and my grandpa served as my caretakers while my parents worked, so I was fortunate enough to spend practically every single day with them. I have so many fond memories from those days. Some of my earliest memories in fact are using the cart in her kitchen to "deliver" spices to her cupboards, which I typically ended up emptying out at some point during my pretending. She never discouraged my imagination or creativity, and for that I am truly thankful. I loved that house in San Jose... their shaggy dog Sandy, the lemon tree in the backyard, the cats who wanted nothing to do with me, pretty much everything aside from nap time. It always felt like such a safe place because she was there.

Once I lost my favorite stuffed animal (a bunny of course) and was devastated, so she bought me a new one and spent hours washing it, and roughing it up, even going so far as to dent the nose to look like the little teeth marks I had put in it so that I would think she had found my bunny. When she presented it to me I immediately saw through the forgery but soon adopted it as mine. A while later, when I had held on to this one without incident, she presented me with another identical (though less worn out) version of the stuffed animal. She had purchased multiples just so that I would never have to be without my favorite thing. Her family was truly her life. When my little sister was born, her and my grandpa even decided to move to Oregon to be closer to us, and Meagan received many of the same experiences in her own way. We certainly couldn't have asked for much more.

I would be lying if I said that it hasn't been hard to watch such a strong woman struggle with her disease. The older and more conscious of the situation I got, the faster it began to take its hold over her, but she never gave up on fighting. Never. In the end she was surrounded by so much love, physically surrounded by people who loved and cared for her unconditionally, and I am so happy that I was able to be a part of that and had a chance to say goodbye. I selfishly wish that I could have had more time with her, that she could be at my wedding, and see Meagan graduate from college, but it was definitely her time to move on, and no one can fault her for that. She had an incredible life.

When I was little I was fascinated by her grandfather clock, so much so that I laid "claim" to it when I was around three, asking if I could have it some day. It now sits in my living room, ticking away. A living, working daily reminder of her, and I am extremely grateful to have it and carry it with me for the rest of my life.


Below is a series of photos of my Grandmother's life. 
(click on any images to view them slightly larger)

There are definitely some gaps in the years, and the photo quality is all over the place, but these are what I have to work with at the moment. I will put up more if I am able to find them.

I think the collection of black and white pictures from her early years are particularly amazing. I wish I could go back in time and get to know her then (without the Back to the Future consequences of course). She was so dainty and adorable!


Grandmas early life in Malad City, Idaho.


The early years with my grandpa, who she married on June 1, 1956.
(I absolutely love the photo on the bottom)


Her first baby, daughter Debbie in 1958.
(My great grandmother is in the last photo as well)


Family years with her children: daughters Debbie, Lesa, and Paula, and son Doug.
(The bottom image is my mom getting ready for her first wedding)


Later years with her grandchildren. 


These are the last photos I have with my grandmother. 
Me, Meagan, and Pat went to visit her in the spring of 2013 and spent the afternoon hearing stories of her childhood and reflecting on ours with her. It was a wonderful experience, and I was thankful that she was having a good day so that she was able to really interact with us. Before we left we decided to take a few photos and even got my grandma to smile. She has always shied away from the camera, and seldom really smiles for pictures, so we felt really lucky.


Here is a link to her memorial website as well with lots of loving reflections from others. I am glad so many people took the time to write something about her. I will wrap this post up with a few of them that mean a lot to me. 

Grandpa: How do you pay tribute to a sweet, gentle and loving wife and mother? She always put her kids, grand kids and me first We were always number one. She would have laid down her life for any of us. She carried all of us in her heart. She put up a valiant fight against her Parkinsons and never gave up. We spent 58yrs together. I am thankful in her final days I was able to be her mate again and not a care giver. I will cary her in my memory for the rest of my days.

Mom: My Mom - Gentle, kind, loving, stubborn, put everyone before herself especially her kids and grandkids, organizer of all things "the cruise director", the original Mrs. Santa Clause, the center of the family always. I love you and will miss you every day!

Meagan: You were an amazing woman and a wonderful grandma. I charish every moment spent with you. Especially how loving you were to me and Jenn. I will never forget going through your jewelry stand and trying on all your necklaces. It was like I had found a hidden treasure chest! Thank you for always being there for me and going against the rule that you can't have dessert before dinner. Vanilla ice cream with lots of chocolate sauce of course. There are so many amazing memories I will always hold on to. I love you so much :)

Pat: Grandma Norma was an inspiration. A true tribute to the will and strength we all have inside of us. She was a wonderful caring woman and I'm really glad I got to spend the time that I did with her. We'll miss you Norma.


We miss you.