Grandma Mary (my dad’s mom) passed away last Saturday. Her passing was peaceful, and she was surrounded by all her kids and many other loved ones. She has also been greeted in Heaven by many of our other loving family members who preceded her.
Grandma Mary was a very fun grandma, and she adored all her grandkids and great-grandkids. She always asked about Natalie – and I know she did the same with her other great-grandkids: Lily, Abigail, Nicholas, William, and the ones who haven’t even been born yet – RJ, Gavin and William’s baby sister or brother.
Many of my favorite memories of Grandma Mary include:
– Any and every weekend up north in Crivitz with all the cousins – swimming, skiing, playing baseball, riding the golf cart, playing cards, eating s’mores (Grandma would always accept the heavily charcoaled ones – my cousin Kacie thinks she even gave one to her once with the glowing charcoal)
– Girls Week up north in Crivitz, which included many trips to the Dollar Store, since the weather was crummy
– Riding our Barbie scooters over to her house, only 3 blocks away (She gave us those scooters for Christmas Eve!)
– Christmas Eve with all the cousins and other family
– The 1-2 months preceding Christmas, which was filled with lots of shopping and present wrapping (she never was very good at wrapping presents – but sure knew how to direct me to do it)
– Trick-or-Treating at her house (once again, only 3 blocks away), as we always had a special package of treats (I just found out for my mom yesterday that it was also a convenient stop to refill their beer!)
We went up to Green Bay for the funeral this week. All our family was there, so it was wonderful to spend time with them – Grandma would have loved it! Auntie Leah wrote a guest post:
Traveling to Green Bay for a loved one’s funeral is not an ideal reason to visit home. Even so, the trip was WONDERFUL! Every one of Grandma Mary’s biological grandchildren turned out for her funeral, including the first meeting of her three great-grandchildren (and an additional two in-utero!)
Getting the whole family together happens less frequently now with the snowballing addition of spouses and in-laws, and our movement around the country and world. However, our love for Grandma Mary and her great influence on the importance and joy of family time brought the whole Vanden Busch gang together for a few memorable days. Here’s a recap of my favorite moments:
The meeting of new cousins and lifelong friends. Watching the interactions of Natalie, William, and Lilly was so heart-warming and ADORABLE! The three of them shared lots of smiles, laughs, kisses, spit, and toys. They gave the grown-ups endless entertainment and put a smile on everybody’s face. I couldn’t help but picture me and my cousins when we were the same age. It’s no wonder we all became such good friends. The addition of these new little cousins seems to have brought us even closer. Natalie, William, and Lilly are technically 2nd cousins, of course. However, they are true cousins as much as Uncle Chucky is Natalie’s uncle and not just her cousin-once-removed. (Heck, he gets to see Natalie more than I even do!)
Overcoming tears with baby smiles. Many tears were shed this week… but they always went away when you looked at a cute baby! My best example of this was when the family had to circle Grandma’s casket before the start of the funeral. My mom was standing next to me with tears in her eyes, but then Natalie caught her attention. Natalie didn’t flash my mom a big open-mouthed grin, as she often does, but she gave her a beautiful, lips-together smile of recognition and love. It was so incredibly heart-warming that it wasn’t possible to be sad!
Being with Natalie. I didn’t think I would get to see Natalie until next spring, so I was very happy to spend a few days with her to see how she’s grown! Natalie is constant entertainment. At the post-funeral lunch, she was sitting on Uncle Mike’s lap being funny for Uncle Rob.
She would stare at Rob, smile, and lean all the way to one side…. over and over and over. It was so fricken cute! She also gave us lots of her snoot face, which made people who I didn’t even know laugh! During the two hours I spent with Natalie in the backseat on our drive back to Chicago, I got to see how smart she is! That chunky little girl might not be too mobile yet, but that’s probably because she’s too busy expanding her brain power. She’s an intent listener when I tried to teach her words and impressed me by her communication abilities. Natalie is trying really hard to say “duckie” (she’s got the “cchhh” sound down) and I swear she was pointing at the eyes on her musical toy bag and saying “eye.” I then pointed at my own eye, and she said “eye”!
Seeing Becky be the biggest sister. Although she might complain about her 8th month of pregnancy, Becky is the cutest pregnant lady ever! I just loved to see my sister so huge, glowing, and expecting my new nephew!
This trip was a good reminder for us all that we just love our extended family to pieces and need to keep up Grandma Mary’s legacy of having valuable family time. I don’t doubt that we will.
Love, Auntie Leah