The Stories Go On.

I’m taking a breather. This is my breather. And oh, my heart. My heart is breaking.

I heard the news today, on my way to Six Flags New England, of all places. I heard the news on my way to a surprise for Scarlet on Father’s Day, of all days. On what would have been my father’s birthday too, of all dates. On two days after Des’ birthday and Scarlet’s preschool graduation, and on one day after a night of unsettled sleep, of all the silly times to hear the news.

It was my grandmother. I heard snippets of conversation and I listened closely, even as my head felt woozy and my stomach turned. “Peaceful.. It was time.. On what would have been your father’s birthday.. She lived to 100 years and seven months, so competitive because Pop Pop lived to 100 years and six months.. It was time. You were there for her, in these last two years.”

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Father’s Day started after an unsettled sleep. Last night I had felt slightly panicked while standing with friends at a bar. Everything was fine, until it wasn’t. I didn’t want to say goodbye to them because they’re preschool parent friends, and that chapter is over for now. That doesn’t mean friendships are over, but I was still afraid to say goodbye. Whoever wants to say goodbye? I’m quite a fan of the long and lingering goodbye. The topic was ghost stories. I heard a friend tell one fantastic story and then I had to stop. Shut it down. Walk away for the night. Take a deep breath. Say hello again on a different day.

A close friend told me, “Ghost stories stick to you when you don’t want them to.” I really thought I had more time.

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Father’s Day may have started after an unsettled sleep, but it began with breakfast at our favorite place. Brilliant sunshine, frolicking dogs, half-eaten plates from choosing the wrong breakfast, and serendipitous run-ins with old neighbors and new friends. There was talk of ice cream later. It was Cassidy’s idea to spring Six Flags on them – we have season passes and we’ve never been there. It was in the car on the way over that I heard the news, but we didn’t turn around. I wept silently against the window but I could not tell Scarlet yet and I could not stop us from entering the theme park, and entering the frenzy.

We comfort our kids. We comfort other’s kids. It was the way the nursing home put fresh, beautiful lipstick on my grandmother for my mom to see. It was the way my mom consoled me through text messaging, during my private hell of smiling my way through pain, only to confront its freshness in my own reflection in a restroom mirror in Looney Tunes Movie Town.

It was the way I put on a smile for the kids, for the day, and I stole bursts of tears in private.

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I’ll always miss her fiery spirit. Her stories have always been my favorite stories. They are stories of triumph and attitude – of mustering all of the strength she had just to walk herself to the dining hall so she didn’t have to eat in her room, or of sending food back in a restaurant. Multiple times. Stories of eating ice cream every day of her life, and hiding cookies in drawers – only to accuse people of stealing them sometimes. (I think I did steal them..but she always shared. She always shared.)

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Her stories go on – on my lips and on the lips of the generations directly above and below me. I have to believe that the stories go on, because why else do we get up every morning and make these stories? Why do we write them down? Why do we even try?

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It’s because stories and spirits and hearts go on. Her stories go on.

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And it’s always a little weird to me that even a big life has to end, eventually.

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I didn’t want to lose the sad. All day, I felt it simmering over to a boil but what could I do? Bawl on the sky ride that I rode alone? I did, a little. Cry in the bathroom stall at Looney Tunes Movie Town? I did, a little. Stare out the window and cry while I was supposed to be dressing Des after his bath, but he was running naked through the house and may or may not have peed on the floor while I cried and blew my nose into one of Scarlet’s clean socks? Ok, that was me. I didn’t want to numb the sad.

I couldn’t afford to lose it. I can’t. I’m wide open these days.

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We told Scarlet. Cassidy did. I listened. She had a million questions about what Nana Jane was doing before and after she died, and if Scarlet can ever see her again. She wants to write a book. She wants to write 100 books about Nana Jane.

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The stories go on. Her stories go on. In the next few days or weeks or months or years, I’ll be writing some of her stories here – like the time she was probably around 95 or so and called my mom with good news. “Guess what?” “What?” My mom probably couldn’t imagine. “We bought a new car!” A new car at 95. Ice cream every night. Ambition and spirit until the end.

Wherever the end may be..

If you have any stories, about my grandmother, or your own grandmother/grandparents/parent, please share one (or more) in the comments. Write your own posts. Yell them to the sky. Tell your children and your grandchildren and even your pets.

Tell them. Tell me. Tell yourself. The stories go on. And we are all the storytellers.

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  1. Yeah- so I had to. Who was I kidding anyway? 😉

    Oh T…

    The timing!

    Bless your open, raw and oh so gorgeous heart. It has been quite a month for you, hasn’t it? Lots of goodbyes, and endings. Lots of memories of endings. Endings are the hardest part of this life we live, aren’t they?

    What a life this precious woman lived! A new car at 95? Ice cream every day? And what a competitive spirit kicking some ass with another month to WIN the race. Oh, I can only imagine the stories she told, she lived, that will live on through the generations to come. Your message takes my breath away…

    “I have to believe that the stories go on, because why else do we get up every morning and make these stories? Why do we write them down? Why do we even try?”

    We ARE all story writers, tellers, holders, and oh, how I love that these stories? They are worth gold in the countless treasures we hold. YOUR stories- are worth gold in the countless treasures YOU hold.

    May you and I continue to create them the way your grandma did. Each day we have the ability to add to our treasure troves… one fine piece of gold at a time.

    1. I knew you’d do it! I couldn’t wait until morning when I’d see a wonderful comment.
      She lived really big. The spirit was there until the end. I guess that’s all you can really ask for – to live long and relatively comfortably and still have your mind/spirit going strong.
      She wavered a bit at the end but you could always still see her. Scarlet actually went to visit her when I was at BlogU. So grateful for that!

  2. I am so sorry for your loss, Tamara. From what I’ve read about her, she sounded like one amazing woman and what a gift to have had a grandmother like her.

    I lost my grandfather almost 4 years ago and at least once a week when I’m watching my boys play, I say “Papa would’ve loved them.” I wish he could’ve seen my babies.

    1. Oh, yes. That’s so sad. I always want everyone together at one time, but I know the circle of life doesn’t work the way I want it to work.
      She was definitely an amazing woman. You just couldn’t believe the stories that would come out about her. They’re still coming.

  3. I am grieving with you. The loss of my grandmother 12 years ago, remains my greatest loss. I have so many regrets – that I didn’t ask her enough questions, that we didn’t share enough stories, that we didn’t take enough pictures together, that she never got to see me get married, or meet my children.

    I am grieving with you, my heart has broken with yours. I am so sorry, so very sorry for your immense loss.

    1. I miss so much about my father’s mother – she never met my husband and definitely not my kids. They would have LOVED her. She would have loved them. It’s sad.
      I’m glad Scarlet will always remember Nana Jane, but I’m sad that Des won’t.

  4. They GO ON! The stories absolutely go on and so does the love and the life and the traditions – they will all go on with you and your family. I’m so, so sorry for your loss. We celebrated my aunt’s 60th birthday this past weekend and the stories of my mom and grandmother went on and on and on. They will never end.

    1. I’m so glad you shared stories – that’s powerful. We still talk about my father a lot and he passed away 30 years ago! And my grandparents, his parents, who passed away over ten years ago.
      I just wish Scarlet had more time. And I wish Des would remember them. They do have six very youthful and very much alive grandparents, though. And my dad’s parents are both still alive!

  5. My heart goes out to you Tamara. I am so sorry for your loss – sounds like you had an amazing grandmother. Cherish the memories – she will live on in your heart.

    1. Thanks so much, Ana. She had a spirit you cannot imagine. I’m hoping my words and photos can bring some of it to life – where she will always be preserved.
      She was just something else.

  6. I’m so sorry Tamara. She sounds like an amazing woman. A new car at 95? That just blows my mind. Those stories are precious…and it allows those who have left us to live on in our hearts and minds. We truly ARE the storytellers. Sending hugs your way. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

    1. Thanks for your support and words, Michelle. Means a lot.
      She had the most intense spirit. You just can’t imagine. Just that vigor for life. An appetite until the end. Attention to details too.
      I’m so sad even though if you have to go, which we all do, doing it peacefully at 100 with all of your faculties pretty intact…amazing.

  7. Tamara, I saw this on your Fb wall yesterday evening and although I didn’t know your grandmother personally, I felt terrible when I read it, being that I feel in some small I did know her through reading your blog entries about her. My heart is breaking for you and I will say this I very much agree that there stories do go on and we need o make sure to tell them. Kevin keeps telling me I should write a book about my grandparents early years, because I have their love letters from WWII – they wrote each other throughout the war before they got married. I have read the letters a few times and always find myself crying as I am reading them missing them so very much. I probably should put my big girl pants on and read them again and write that book for them. But anyways, I love you, am thinking of you today and keeping you all in my prayers. If you need anything, message me. I am here.

    1. You definitely need to write that book! It sounds amazing and who is better to write it, right??
      I’d love to do a compilation book of love stories. Really intense and lasting ones too.
      Thank you for the love and prayers. I feel it, I swear.

      1. I would love to do this with you (maybe someday) and glad you know I have been thinking of you all day today. Seriously, there are some extra hugs com in from Long Island here today for you (there always are btw, but just more today then usual). Love you <3

        1. I bet we will!
          Thank you for the hugs. It’s been so hard but the show goes on. The sun still shines and the kids still need lunch. (totally unfair that they can’t make it themselves)

          1. I am holding to that! And you mean they can’t, lol! Seriously, I just had to get my third snack for mine in the last hour. And I was looking forward to summer vacation!

            1. I love when I get all comfy and I sit down and Scarlet magically has to pee. Then I sit down and she needs a snack. Then water. Then whatever! When do they get themselves meals again??

  8. Enough already Tamara! (:)) first you broke the dam; now you’ve cracked my heart. This certainly is a vale of tears!

    1. I know.. I know.. I’m glad I broke your dam! It had to happen. Now let’s hold onto the memories and the love and take some awesome photos, shall we?
      And hide cookies..and eat ice cream.. man, I’m crying again. She was just such a character.

  9. I am so sorry for your loss. And for how you had to hold it in all day like that – so hard.

    I look forward to reading your grandmother’s stories. It is a precious blessing to have those to pass on and send out to the world.

    1. I was afraid if I held it in too long, it would turn permanently inward and toxic. Luckily that didn’t seem to happen. I’m glad for the memories of Father’s Day at Six Flags for the kids. We told Scarlet after and she’s been full of questions.
      I feel very blessed while feeling very sad.

  10. Tamara, I am so so sorry for your loss. I am crying as I write this because I know the heartbreak. The stories do go on, and bring smiles and warmth and beautiful memories. I carry stories of my grandparents with me and think of them often. Something will happen and I will be reminded and I tell the boys so that they become part of their stories too. Thinking of you and your family.

    1. I’m crying as I read all of these comments, although I haven’t had the guts to go back and read the post yet. Maybe someday.
      I love to be the carrier of stories, and to pass them on. And I love that I have my blog and photography to help me find the stories..

  11. I love the title of your post, because the stories do go on. My dad and his sisters and brothers constantly tell stories about their parents, who I never knew. My mother’s parents both died in their 90’s, and I think about them often and tell my daughters about them. I was just talking about Grandpa yesterday on Father’s Day. He refused to give up driving when he was 94, but he had late onset Alzheimers so we had to disable his car.

    I always thought I had more time with my mom, with my grandma, and then they weren’t with us any more, and that time was gone. Yes, we do have wonderful memories, but Oh! It still hurts so much. I’m so sorry for your loss, Tamara.

    1. My grandfather had Alzheimer’s too and the car was a tough thing to give up. My mother’s father who died two years ago at 100, was still driving until like.. 98. I kid you not. He wouldn’t go far. Just from his house to his country club and maybe the grocery store. My grandparents lived on their own until about the same time. So crazy!

  12. *gasp* Oh NO!!! 🙁 sorry for your loss dear; while no words will do justice, know as a collective all of us are sending strength and good vibes your way during these difficult times. At least you were fortunate enough to get to know her on many levels, and take in her stories – I was never so fortunate; I never met my father’s parents and my mothers father died before I was born, her mother died when I was 5. I have few recollections of her; all I remember is her grand stature and presence. All I have are my parents and one day I’ll be an orphan and the only one standing from my family’s side, cray! I love the early photographs of your grandmother, such a beautiful, elegant woman! Remember her life as she was fortunate to live to be 100, that is impressive in any era – It takes time to realize that sometimes its for the best and that everything happens for a reason: you have yet another angel my dear. Hugs and love Tamara and wishing you and your family strength, -Iva

    1. The collective strength and good vibes is so good. I can feel it. So thank you.
      I had to write this because I had to write this, but the support, just feels so good.
      I do remember that there are good things. She met three great-grandchildren and she knew that my sister is getting married soon. She died peacefully and never battled a terrible cancer or anything else. Her mind was intact, although at the end, she slept so much that sometimes she confused dreams with reality.
      In the end, she slept a lot but she still wanted to eat a lot of junk food.

      1. Junk food + lots of sleep? That’s the best way to go – that’s me now actually, without all the junk food – just lots of Thai and Indian food with brunch in between, lots of it. 🙂 Food, goooood. She was a very lucky lady and definitely lived a purposeful life 🙂

    1. Thank you! Me too. Her mother (my great-grandmother) lived to 99 and we joked that she died young. My grandmother thought she’d die at 99 too but she surprised us all, even herself.

  13. My heart aches for you, Tamara – I’m so sorry that your grandmother is no longer physically a part of your life. But you are right – the stories go on. Last night we were with my kids’ four grandparents (how lucky they are to have four), and we were telling stories about my grandmother. She’s been gone 18 years, and remembering is rarely painful anymore. It brings me joy, to remember her and keep her alive in my heart. I think I may write about her today, as I think of you and your family. xoxo

    1. My other grandmother has been gone about 11 years and a lot of the pain has gone away. It’s weird to think that I’ve been living so long without her. When she passed, I had the luxury of laying alone in a dark room and crying for four days.
      It’s so different now with a husband and kids. I don’t have that “luxury.” I look forward to getting to a place of fond remembrance.

  14. Two of the absolute hardest things we have done as parents – telling kids about the death of their great grandmother (my hubby’s grandmother) & the death of our last dog. Their stories do go on and so will Nana Jane’s because you will tell them and Scarlet will tell them and Scarlet’s children will tell them. That doesn’t make it sting any less right now, I know. Don’t hold back the tears. Let them go and find comfort int he memories. Hugs to you, my friend!

    1. Oh the dog one! That must be so hard. Scarlet was just a baby when our first dog passed away.
      Thank you for all of your words of support and wisdom. Cassidy had to tell her. I just couldn’t take it..

  15. My heart goes out to you, Tamara. Grandmothers are so special, and their loss leaves a giant hole. I spoke at my Grandmother’s memorial service and unexpectedly broke into tears… something I don’t usually do when speaking before groups. But it just showed me how much she meant to me, and how lucky I was to have her in my life, and to have had her in my children’s lives… what a blessing. Funniest Grandmother story? Making cream puffs WAY TOO LARGE — was supposed to make 12 and I think we made 4. We laughed and laughed…

    1. I spoke at my other grandmother’s memorial service too and I burst into tears. At my grandfather’s service, a year later, I started crying and I couldn’t stop. I’ll never forget that. It was a disaster.
      Thank you for sharing your grandmother story! I like the idea of large cream puffs!

  16. Sipping my morning coffee and bawling on the porch. Birds are singing as I sing the pain. Beautifully written, my darling Tamara.
    And you should know that I found two Hershey Kisses under her bed yesterday as I held energy for her.

    1. ha! That is a great story. So her. I will forever miss her lunches – those sandwiches on the lazy susan – all the pickles and mustards and whatever else.
      I’ll miss the candy dishes too. And her voice. And that house. Wish we could still have that house.

  17. Oh, Tamara! There is nothing that can be said or done to take away that pain, but I am truly, deeply sorry about your grandmother’s loss. It sounds like she lived the best life you can live, full of energy (I hope I have that kind of energy at 100, if I live so long) and fun. I love that she hid cookies and ate ice cream every day. We should all indulge in these little pleasures. Big, virtual hugs–I’ll be thinking of you today.

    1. Thank you so much. I definitely ate ice cream for dinner last night. It was a bold move but I had to honor her in that ridiculously immature way.
      And I loved it.
      The pain comes and goes. It’s strange to have it while also having gorgeous weather and happy kids. It’s like, “one of these things is not like the other two..”

  18. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. Take time for yourself and let someone else do the dishes and feed the kids. Surround yourself with family and friends and let the stories of her life and laughter invade the air of sadness. I already know you’ll keep her spirit alive. She sounds like such an amazing women. Sending many thoughts of comfort your way.

    1. I really want to do that! Cassidy is at work still and I’m waiting for that long reprieve!
      Thank you for your thoughts of comfort.

  19. There’s a big family photo where a lady in a flower pattern dress is holding… Des! But it’s a really, really old photo and Des may/may not be a girl. But still – baby Des!

    Also, the one with the little girl and the evil grin is priceless!

    The whole time I had little kids I wore fold-down socks. Here’s why:

    First of all, I swear to you before I had kids I was not a nose picker. I would always get a tissue and blow my nose. I had lots of sinus infections growing up with a smoker, I always had tissue with me. Always. Fast forward to having my children. One day the baby had boogies and, well, she can’t blow her nose and I didn’t have a suction bulb with me. So I dug up her nose but had no place to put the loot. I unfolded the cuff of my sock and put it inside, then folded it back down. Who knew that once you become a mom socks double as hankies?

    1. That’s my little sister! She’s not even blood related to me (or Des) but the apple still doesn’t fall far with her.
      The evil grin is my older sister. She’s making funny faces in a lot of these photos! I’m the baby next to her in the red overalls.
      And your booger story is one to tell the grandkids, and great grandkids for sure!

  20. My grandma had a fiery spirit too. She was really thin when she was young, like I am, and she used to work at a laundry. One of the women there used to bother her to no end. One day she told my grandmother (I guess because my grandma was small, but also just to be annoying) that she was going to start calling her Skeeter, as in mosquito. My grandma looked at her and told her, “Well I’m going to start calling you Grizzly, as in bear.”

    Their stories will always be with us. Their laughter and their heart is here. We live with their strength and their hugs and their love. Even when we don’t feel it, their wit and humor and spirit is inside of us. I miss my grandmother every single day. But I know how much she loved me, and from everything you have written, both today and previously, I know how much Nana Jane loved you. I am so, so sorry for your loss Tamara. Sending you all the love I have.

    1. hahaha..thank you for that story. It’s magnificent. I hope the bear comment got rid of the mosquito nickname FAST.
      I lost my father’s mother over ten years ago. Every now and then it takes my breath away – that she’s gone. Like when we were at Disney World this year. I swear I want to go back to Florida now just to feel them. All four of my blood grandparents are gone now. That’s hard.
      Thank you for the big love!

  21. I’m so sorry to hear this news. She sounds like a beautiful woman with an incredible spirit. I can see a good life lived in her hand as she holds your child’s infant hand and passes along her infinite wisdom about this life and world. A passing of batons, of sorts. I hope you find some peace in the coming days.

    1. I see it that way – a passing of batons. Or like the circle of life.
      It hurts beyond measure, but there is so much to be thankful about the whole thing.

    1. I think my grandfather was driving until 98 or so.. and they were living alone, if you can believe that. Ah, they lived big. I’ll miss that so much. It inspires me to live big.

  22. It feels so strange to be crying for the loss of someone else’s grandma when I didn’t cry when my own grandma died when I was in my early teens. I just don’t think I fully understood what a great woman she was — I was one of the youngest grandchildren so I always knew her as an old, fairly frail lady, and she had a lengthy battle with cancer that everyone was glad she no longer had to fight. Now as a mother myself, when I think about what her life must have been like — mother of 10 children, growing a garden to feed them and sewing their clothes, no running water in the house until the late 1950s, washing ALL those clothes by hand, and even working part time in later years to help support the family, amazing faith in God — I consider her a role model and practically a saint even though I never really got to know her in her prime. So, I guess my tears are really for her. The good news is, she dies almost 20 years ago and she is still a strong presence in my mind and in how I live my life, and I know your Nana will be in your life, too. Sending you love!

    1. I’ve actually been stony-faced at weddings/funerals of people I knew and loved, but cried big tears at weddings/funerals when I didn’t know the couple/person and I was just there as a guest or as a support. Strange but true.
      And wow – what her life had been like. My dad’s first wife’s mom is a very cranky old woman but if I stop to really think about her life – being in the Holocaust, surviving it, losing a daughter to cancer.. It’s mind-boggling. I hope she saw a lot of joy too.

  23. All the wonderful memories! The legacy! 100 years in the making. My heart aches for you but, it is also filled with joy because of everything you will get to remember and pass on!

  24. No matter how long they live, no matter how rich their lives, it’s always a gut-punch to lose a beloved grandparent. Bless her and bless you. My deepest condolences.

    <3 you. Even if I don't always comment, I always read 🙂

    1. <3 you too. That makes me happy that you always read. I didn't know!
      It's a gut punch, plain and simply. For all of the intense good, I just think about what I lost and how it was at the end. It's fun to imagine her as she was at a younger time, but the end was harder.

  25. Tamara, I am so sorry for your loss. Writing about her in this space is a form of grieving and celebrating. Keep on writing about her, Tamara. Sending you hugs, love and my deepest condolences.

    1. It is so healthy for me to be here. I couldn’t skip it. Obviously I had something else planned for my Monday post but I sat and did this last night, with tears streaming.
      I haven’t gone back to read it and I might not for awhile, but I’m glad it’s here.
      Thank you for everything.

  26. I’m so sorry for your loss. My Grandma is 93 and I’ll be crushed when she goes. I LOVE hearing her stories. They are always so fascinating.

  27. {{HUGS}} sorry for your your loss for such an amazing lady. You have beautiful memories and beautiful pictures to remember her by – I love the one of the hands!!

    1. Thank you so much. Some of the sweetest memories I have are from the last two years, but those are also the hardest.
      It was just a novelty being able to see her more often, instead of a yearly trip to Florida or New Hampshire.

    1. I love the legacy. I feel it strong within us. And the stories too. They’re so hard to think about right now but i’m sure I’ll be able to write them down, little by little.

  28. Tamara, I’m so sorry for your loss and I feel you all too well. My grandmother died this year at the age of 92 and she was such a wonderful strong and lovely woman. She was hard core and Italian to the bones. She was just a wonderful spirit and she gave me the light that I have inside of me. It tore me up when she died, and even now I cry at the thought of never holding her soft hands or hearing her yelling at my dad in her distinct Italian accent. She called me bella, every time she saw me. I saw her the week before she died, she held my hand against her face like a child. I looked in her eyes and I told her I loved her, she told me she loved me. I am grateful for every second I got to spend with her. And I mourn her deeply and regularly. I am glad you had the relationship you did with your grandmother, and I hate that with that love and life comes pain and sorrow. I know we can’t have one without the other, but I hate it just the same. Your pictures are a beautiful tribute to moments in your lives together. Thank you for sharing (and inspiring others to share).

    1. What a totally beautiful ending for you two. My grandmother (other one) died down in Florida but our last phone conversation was pretty final and full of love.
      I still sobbed for seven day straight, without really eating or leaving the house, but that was before I had a husband and kids.
      So it’s different this time. I’m distracted more.
      Thank you for sharing about your grandmother. The thought of never seeing mine again is the hardest part and that was the first question Scarlet asked and that kills me.
      It’s the permanence of it. It’s too hard to wrap my head around.

  29. Such a beautiful tribute, Tamara. Being at Six Flags must have been tough. Your Nana was a wonderful woman. I know this through your posts. Your stories of her make me sad I didn’t know her myself. My boys never had the chance to meet my grandparents. But they have met Matt’s. It’s always special to get multiple generations together so you can tell those stories. Sending big hugs to you, my friend!

    1. We had four generations together a lot in the last two years. Now we will have three and that’s very powerful too. My dad’s parents are both still alive, even if we’ve now lost my mom’s parents and my father’s parents.

    1. Thank you so much. My memories are only painful because they’re only that. Someday, hopefully soon, I will really appreciate them.

  30. Sorry for your loss. Sounds like a lovely woman.

    I was very close to my Grandmother and was really heartbroken when she died about 15 years ago.

    1. Aw, I’m so sorry. It’s so hard. My kids have six grandparents and of course I want everything to be as wonderful as it’s been so far.

  31. I’m so sorry, Tamara!! I remember sitting on my deck one morning last August when my brother called and told me about my grandpa – I just cried and cried (I’m actually siting in the same spot crying as I type this).
    You are so right – the stories will go on because we will make sure that they do for our own kids!!!
    I hope that you are remembering all of the good times right now and letting your tears comfort you!!! Hugs to you!!!

    1. I remember that last August. We had just gotten close on our blogs and I felt so sad for you. He was very old too, if I remember. And you had to go to Texas? Florida? I just remember a beautiful story.
      My tears don’t stop very often these days.

  32. I’ve got nothing but ((hugs)) for you right now. My grandmother passed 3 years ago, and although she raised me, we weren’t very close. Thank you for sharing the pictures. I enjoyed them.

    1. Thank you for those hugs.
      I wasn’t always very close with my grandmother either. She always lived far. She was very generous, though, and always wanted the best for me for everything. I’m really going to miss those summer trips we always took to see them.

  33. Wow, she seems like a truly incredible woman. I wish I could have met her, have heard the stories straight from her lips. But you’re so right that the stories go on, the love and the passion and the spirit go on. I’m so glad you didn’t numb the sadness, that you kept it with you. Too often we try to bury the difficult emotions, not realizing that when we do, we bury some of the good stuff too.

    1. She was really funny, and I don’t know if she always meant to be. She really spoke her mind which could be hurtful but most often wasn’t. I wish you could have met her too!
      I didn’t realize the end was already coming. I sort of thought she’d live for many more years.

  34. What a beautiful woman and a beautiful life she lived. I can feel her fiery spirit through this post and the fact that lived to be more than 100 years old. You got some good genes running in you! Great photos of her with your kids and I love the multi-generational one. I hope to tell stories of my dad, now passed-away 3 years, to my children who won’t have ever known him. I hope they appreciate their living grandparents that much more.

    1. Thanks! Her mother lived to 99 and I thought that was young. My grandfather’s side always had longevity.
      I’m so sorry about your dad – but I got to see some pieces of him in your post today.

  35. I’m sorry. Sadness is appropriate, regardless of how long she lived, how great she lived, how full her life was, and I would take in all the sadness I could if it were me, and then use it constructively, just like you are. Basically what I’m trying to get at is she must be so proud and happy to hear that you’ll be sharing her stories. I bet she has great ones. I love the photos of her holding baby Des…especially the one where her watch is so clear. Something about the hands of time and the contrast of age between them just does it for me. And I love grandma’s competitive spirit! An month longer than grandpa? Hiding cookies? Ice cream philosophies? That is my kind of woman!

    1. I was totally going for that, by the way! The hands of time and sharpness on the watch. You’re a perceptive one!
      She was totally your kind of lady. Awesome and gorgeous and ice cream every day!

  36. I’ve read your wall post yesterday. And I know how you always talk about her on your blog.100 years is such a long time and I’m sure a life well-lived too. Ironic, because in my blog I talked about choosing happiness. But of course you will always have the right to feel what you feel now and I’m with you in whatever you feel. She’s a legacy and totally admirable. But in the end, I’m sure both of you will choose happiness. She will be immortalized through your stories.

    1. I loved your post this morning about choosing happiness!
      Of course I believe in that very much and I think it will get me through this better.
      I feel a lot of things today and I’m sure they will change but I’ll always feel very blessed to have known her.

  37. So sorry for your loss, Tamara. May you celebrate her fabulous life!
    I will share some tidbits about my dad’s mom, grandma Mary. Grandma Mary lived across the yard from us so I seen her daily growing up. Grandma Mary could not see or hear well but she would NEVER admit to either of these. Grandma Mary put on her gold rimmed glasses (which she could not see out of) and wore a sweater and apron every day even though she did not cook. Grandma Mary from the time I can remember had no teeth but could eat steak! Grandma Mary had a memory like a steal trap. All she’d have to do is meet you one time and you would get a birthday card from her from then on. I grew up in the 70’s before the age of computers and texting so grandma Mary used her phone to find out everyones business. Grandma Mary was on her old rotary phone all day long and called our home an average of 5 to 6 times a day and because she was on the phone so much that when I would answer the phone instead of saying, “This is Grandma Mary.” She would say, “This is Mary Angelo.” Every time!!! Till she passed away at age 88!

    1. Oh that story! Made me smile. Thank you for sharing. No teeth but could eat steak. Not great hearing/seeing but would remember everything. I love that.
      My husband’s great Aunt Nettie died last year or so. She was either 103 or 104. She couldn’t see at all in the end but she’d still tell you about your clothes!

  38. Sorry for your loss, Tamara. Keep telling her stories so that she will live on in your family. My favorite story about my mom’s mom involved a murder plot…lol. My grandmother’s father died when she was young and her mother remarried a mean man who complained every morning when he got up. Well, my grandmother and her brother got tired of hearing him complain every morning. So, one morning my grandmother and her brother decided if he woke up and complained on that morning, they were going to get the shot gun from above the mantle and shot their stepdad. Well, luckily for him, he did not wake up complaining…lol I can not imagine what would have happened to them if they shot their stepdad. I’m pretty sure I would not be here.

    1. hahaha! Oh man. That is a story. I wonder if they would have done it! My mom had a story from the day before my grandmother passed:
      “Many thanks for your outpouring of love and support for our loss. I know you loved my “mom stories” so here is the last one she wrote. On Saturday, I visited her and asked he what she would like for us to order for her from the Chinese restaurant for Sunday’s Father’s Day dinner. She said “I don’t remember its name but I love it!” “Moo Goo Gai Pan?” I asked. “Oh yes!” she said. Of course we ordered Moo Goo Gai Pan for our dinner in her honor!”

  39. I’m so happy Scarlet got to visit her as well, such a silver lining! She was a beautiful woman. I know you feel all the feels in the next few days and we are here to help you in any way you need. I am so sorry for your loss, she will always be with you in spirit!

    1. That was so powerful – “we are here to help you”. I really feel that way. It helps so much to have this community when I really do need it. In the past, I’d suffer alone and in silence, by choice, but I don’t want to do that right now.

  40. Tamara, my heart is so sad for you and your family. I feel like I know your Nana through your stories. I always enjoy hearing about spunky older people. They give me hope. Your Nana gave me hope and you didn’t even know. I’m so glad you’ve been sharing about her and look froward to hearing more.

    I was a grandma’s girl. Even though she had other grandkids it was always like I was the only one. When I was little I used to crawl (literally) into my grandma’s room because my grandpa slept on the side of the bed closest to the door and we didn’t want him to hear or see me. When I got to her side we’d pray the Rosary together. We’d talk for about an hour after that about whatever I wanted. She always listed to me. She even listened to me when I didn’t speak and saved me from some horrible things of which I cannot talk.

    Grandma’s are wonderful. I’m praying for you and your family.

    1. I can imagine, because she gave me hope too. And you know what? She still does. She lived to 100, had an appetite, zest and opinion until the very end (the day before she died? She ordered her chinese food dinner for the next night), and she died peacefully. AND.. she had her mind intact.
      So there is a story here and there is hope for us all.
      Thank you so much.
      Your story is powerful. The way she’d listen to you. Sometimes I see that my parents and in-laws listen so much better to my kids than I do.

  41. What a beautiful tribute to your grandmother. I’m so sorry for your loss, though, and I understand why you wouldn’t want to ‘numb the pain’. Sometimes it’s more helpful just to let yourself mourn. I will keep her-and your family-in my prayers. **Hugs**

  42. Oh Tamara… I’m so sorry for your loss. This was so hard to read. I just lost my beloved grandma at the end of April. The grief was… is… unimaginable.

    This was such a beautiful, loving tribute.

    Sending you much love, my comfort, and prayers.

  43. So very sorry my friend — just sending big hugs. And a thanks for sharing this beautiful spirit and soul with us. Will listen whenever you want to share a story.

  44. Tamara I echo the condolences above and I add to the virtual embrace and support my dear friend. I am sad for your family, but through your words I FEEL the love you experienced. You wrote this post with such unbelievable clarity, it is impossible not to be moved. Jane was a beautiful woman inside/and out and her legacy lives on in her family (so Des will be able to know— her true spirit) xoxoxoxox

    1. Ah, thank you. One of my favorite comments. I had a lot of clarity for all of the pain and exhaustion, and not to mention the splitting crying headache!

        1. Aw! I would love that. And obviously I’d love it if you were here in Northampton, but I guess I have to settle for blogs/emails/phones.

  45. Tamara, I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. I enjoyed reading your post as I got to know more about your grandma and your kids’ relationship with her. *hugs* And tell me if I’m wrong, but that last photo of her on the right… I think you look just like her there 🙂

    1. Thank you so much. I have always enjoyed talking about her, with love and pride. I will continue to do so, when it hurts a little less.
      I love that photo of her – thank you.

    1. I agree. I grew up and became a mom, and still, she was strong. I guess I assumed we’d grow old together or something.
      I have many tears too right now – thank you.

  46. Oh Tamara! I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your Grandmother. I know how close you were to her! I hope you find some comfort in the fabulous memories of her long life and legacy that she left here on Earth! Keeping your family in my prayers and sending hugs!

    1. Thank you very much – she’s been around and strong for my whole life. I guess I took that for granted. It was a really, really good run.

  47. Oh, Tamara, I’m sending you so many hugs. I thought of you last night as we were driving home. I wasn’t close to my grandmothers, but more and more I wish that I had asked them more questions. I did a little report with my Grandma that died when I was 14- about a year and a half before she died, I believe- about what life was like for her during the Great Depression. It was funny how she didn’t go into much detail- ‘Nope, no bread lines. We were okay since Grandpa worked for the phone company.’ I remember her as so loving and happy when our family of six came over for Sunday dinners. She just loved having us at her house, with all of our noise and crazy energy. Her chocolate layer cakes and apple pies are still a presence, as both my parents make them every year in honor of her, and my sister makes my other grandma’s jam bars. I think my sisters and I all got our baking love from our grandmothers 🙂

    Thank you for sharing these pictures! They are all wonderful, and how sweet is Scarlet for wanting to write a book…! Love to your whole family.

    1. Thank you for sharing those stories! My grandparents have some stories from the Great Depression too. They didn’t share them a lot and they never openly let on about how much it damaged them, but their actions showed it later in life.

  48. OH friend, I’m so sorry. I know how hard it is to lose a grandmother that you love so very much. What an amazing life she lived with so many surrounding her that loved her. Such a gift. And yes, we must tell the stories.

    I will never forget the time me and my mom were walking on the family farm with my Granny (my Dad’s mom) and she had her cane with here. A rattlesnake came right out in front of us on the path and she didn’t even blink an eye before beating it to death with her cane while my mom and I cowered behind her. No big deal. She was a powerhouse and an amazing woman, just like your Grandmother.

    Much love to you and your family… xoxoxoxo

    1. So sorry to you too, right now! Grief is so hard. It’s so hard with kids. I’ve been through stress and trauma and crisis and emergencies, and even some grief, but nothing like this WHILE having kids.
      Hope you had a great time in Key West. I love it there.
      The rattlesnake story is AMAZING. It belongs in a book.

  49. 1. it feels like we all suffered a loss that day, Tamara. We’re pretty familiar with part of her legacy, in you and Scarlet. Just look at that final photo of her. you can see you and Scarlet there.

    2. I hope you know how much strength you exerted that day. It’s like the parent who shields their child from a falling beam. You took the brunt of it to protect Scarlet that day. That takes strength. I told the girls I’d wrestle a tiger if it meant they could get away. You actually pinned the tiger.

    3. Listen very closely to what Scarlet says about Nana. It’ll be incredible. Elise was barely 3 when my dad died, and the things she said about him were priceless. Just, the stories. Built on impressions of love from a short time spent with him, more with his son, and being part of his legacy.

    1. I only really knew the strength I exerted when I lay down at night and the sheer exhaustion wiped me out. It was way more exhaustion than I would have had by just riding the skyride and taking photos of the fast and spinny ones.
      We all have our tiger moments, I guess. I think my mom has had more than anyone I know, and she continues to have them.

  50. So sorry Tamara. It is so hard to loose someone we love. My grandmother died 2 weeks before her 100th birthday and I still miss her. One night shortly after she died my little daughter started pointing at the corner of her room and smiled and said, “Hi Grandma”. She then turned and returned to playing. That moment has always made me happy.

    1. Oh that’s like my great-grandmother! She died shortly before her 100th birthday. We used to joke that she died young because of the longevity in the family.
      That story makes me smile too. It makes me believe.

  51. Tamara, I am so sorry for your loss. It is very difficult to lose someone we love so very much. I remember losing my grandmother suddenly when I was 10. It was difficult for me and took me years to get over it, all because I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. Then I think about when I lost my great-grandmother when I was 27 and she was 103. I wasn’t sad. I was proud. Proud that she had lived so long. Proud that she was always the woman she wanted to be and proud that she raised all of us to be strong women. Besides, she would probably be haunting me until this day if she caught me sad or crying when she died, since she told me once that there wasn’t any reason for that. I’m telling you, tough woman!!

    1. This made me smile. And holy cow for 103. Not sad. Proud. I love that.
      Sometimes we can just celebrate all we had. I’m not there yet but I hope to get there.

  52. My grandparents are all gone and I miss them every day. It looks like you have so many good memories with her and that’s the great thing about photos that we can go back to those good times by looking at them.

    1. I really miss them all everyday. My dad’s parents are both still alive but my father’s parents passed away ten years ago. I didn’t think I could get through that. I did, of course.
      I mourn my own childhood just as much when I mourn them.

  53. A week before my 98 year old grandmother passed away, she told me to write. So I started my blog… Privately at first, then about 18 months later went public. What a blessing it has been. A place to capture stories, make them come and stay alive. That’s how you can Honour her. Write the stories in the beautiful way you do. So so sorry for your loss.

    1. That story gave me chills! What a gift she gave you, and you give to your family and yourself by writing.
      I plan to honor her through my life. Thank you so much.

  54. Tamara, I’m so so sorry. I know how much your grandmother meant to you. Those goodbyes are hard. But her memories are going to live on and on through your stories and pictures. Your children will remember her, and even come to know her better, through those, and that is an amazing gift to share. Know that I am thinking of you and sending you hugs!

    1. Thank you so much. I don’t think Des will remember her but I’m so happy I have so many photos and stories of the two of them!

    1. Thank you for sharing the post/dream! It took me awhile to have dreams about my other grandparents after they passed but I really loved the vivid dreams I started to have. It’s been awhile, actually.

  55. Oh Tamara! I don’t know what to say. I know apologizing for your loss doesn’t bring her back. So I’m going to say…I’m happy that you have had all this time with her and that this last year that she was able to go out with a bang at 100 with you and in your presence and in the presence of your whole family. I’m crying for you. I am happy you have her stories and others have them, too. She lived a full, beautiful life! She raised wonderful human beings and touched so many. I feel like I knew her through your posts about her. Praying for your comfort and hoping that you will find a way to find peace through your grief. 🙂

    1. Thank you, my dear. It’s so hard even when you factor in all the good – the peaceful end, the longevity, having had her mind intact until the end..

  56. I’ve been thinking about you all week.
    Words can’t begin to take away your pain and it will hurt for a while. I still get choked up in my garden working by the peonies that my grandma gave me or when I smell something that reminds me of her. But the stories? Those are the ones I treasure and when my son is listening, I tell them to him. Some of the best stories are the ones my grandparents told me of theirs. It surely, sorry, they surely live on.
    So much love babe. So much.
    PS. Bathing Suit…go put it on.

    1. It’s the stories. Very much. The stories and the photos and the legacies. It’s what gets me to sleep at night.

      I totally want to put on the suit but it didn’t come yet!! Boo!!!

  57. Aw, I’m so sorry for your loss. Your grandmother will live on in so many stories, (and in this blog!) My grandmother (the only one I really knew), lived until 92. She would take a bus to a tavern to get a beer, into her late 80’s. Sometimes she would pop in unexpectedly with donuts, (which annoyed my mom), but of course, I loved it! Wishing you peace.

  58. Her stories will absolutely go on through you, your family and Scarlet and Des (and Scarlet’s books!). They will continue to be woven into your family’s narrative. I’m so sorry for your loss Tamara (and for taking so long to get her to express my condolences). Your grandmother sounds like she lived a full fully life.

  59. tamara, i am so sorry to hear this sad news. what beautiful pictures, stories and more importantly memories of a life so well-lived. looks like she touched many lives with her love and spirit.

  60. I’m so sorry for your loss, Tamara. I wish I had wonderful stories about my grandparents, but they all died when I was quite young and now that I’ve reached a certain age (shall we say), I find myself wanting to know.

    I do have a few memories of collecting driftwood at the beach with my Gran and feeding it piece by piece to the fire to watch the different colours blaze up. Oh, and we would always pick up pieces of sea glass and put them in a big, old coffee jar. I wonder what happened to them?

  61. Hi, visiting you via the SITS girls, great post! People in our lives are the hardest to write about and they make the most touching posts. Wish you the best with your blog and your photography!

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