Grandma – The Long Goodbye

Real life continues around you whether you want it to or not.  And over the last few years as we have juggled Cowden’s Syndrome, my dear Grandma has battled Alzheimer’s Disease.  This disease is far too common and not for the faint of heart.  When it was named “The Long Goodbye”  it was appropriately so.  That goodbye came to its end for my Grandma last week, and her “Celebration of Life” was today.  Her influence on my life can not be understated. 

While I am acutely aware how lucky I am to have had my grandparents for so long, there is a special kind of loss when you’ve been fortunate enough to have grandparents into adulthood.  Below is a transcript of the eulogy I delivered today.  Pictures were just added for good fun.

It has been so hard to gather my thoughts.  I love to write, but it is a formidable task to speak to the end of an era, while teasing apart the pair that was “Grandma and Pop,” in order to spend a few moments remembering Grandma.

Grandma was small and strong, faithful, feisty, loyal, fierce, firm, and dedicated.

Besides being “small,” which is a ship that sailed for me decades ago, I aspire to be like my grandmother.  Sometimes she said very little, but what she said was always full of meaning.  And it was not the fluffy philosophical stuff.  It was straight to the point.  You always knew where you stood with Grandma.

I grew up on the first floor of the two family house they resided in for over 50 years.  I spent some formative years there, from 5 to 15, where I was loved unconditionally and held to a high standard all the time.  Those years shaped my character, and I will be forever grateful.

I can remember learning to keep myself busy, sorting buttons from a glass jar, while I sat on the kitchen floor.  I remember watching Grandma cook, and iron – two things I DEFINITELY did NOT pick up from her.  I remember tasting cookies, and waffles, and the best lemon meringue pie I’ll ever eat.

She was active her whole life.  She took walks all around the neighborhood for many years.  I watched her climb up and down the two flights of stairs to the basement to do laundry, and up again into the attic to get whatever was stored in their “pantry”.  That attic had a pantry that could have helped the block survive a natural disaster.  They were always prepared.

I remember fighting with my sister Lisa, back when it was just the two of us.  I remember being scolded, firmly (and we’ll leave that there..) and being told we needed to look out for each other.  Now we are more grandchildren, and great-grandchildren too.  I remember.  And we will.  We all will.

I remember the times I disappointed.  Thankfully, there weren’t too many, but there is one that I remember like it was yesterday.  Goodness, it must have been almost 40 years ago when I was touching the nativity scene that I had been told to keep my hands off.  I knocked over the donkey and his ear fell off.  Grandma was mad.  And, even after Pop glued the ear back on I saw that ear for the rest of the years that the nativity went up.  Grandma never said another word about it after that day.  No doubt she forgave me.  But, that feeling of disappointing her was not one I ever desired to relive again.

I remember playing card games with Grandma.  I can remember Parcheesi a little, but it must not have been my favorite.  What sticks out in my mind are “King’s Corners” and “500 Rummy”.  I learned so much more than the rules of the games.  I learned that Grandma was not about giving away easy wins.  I learned that if you wanted to win, you had to work for it.  I also learned that sometimes you lose.  And, being a gracious loser is probably more important than winning.  Life lessons.  Thanks Grandma.

I learned how to be frugal after learning all about the Great Depression and the stories of truly having nothing at all.  She didn’t share those stories to garner pity.  She shared them as an explanation.  She shared them as a motivation as well, although she may not have realized it.  You see, I learned that sometimes people have absolutely nothing, and it’s just not their fault.  I learned to work hard, establish a reputation, and to give with a giving heart, with no expectation of return.  I was given gifts.  Through the years I received many material gifts, but the ones forever etched in my heart are the emotional gifts, of love, support, and encouragement.

For years I learned the value of being able to kiss my grandparents goodnight.  Our family was not super-affectionate, but still, there was a lot of love.  And, so much love came from those goodnight kisses, that I still remember today to ALWAYS kiss my family goodnight.  I learned that there is no promise of tomorrow on this earth, and I watched for years as Pop stopped to kiss Grandma goodbye before he left the house for any reason.  It was in those moments I promised myself I would settle for nothing less than a man who loved me the way Pop loved Grandma.  I did not settle Grandma.  And I understand the beauty of loving and being loved.

The days are sometimes long, but the years are short, and our family grew.  And as each generation brought more love into her heart, I understood the value of what we had.  I understood it, and tried to soak it up every chance I had.  Most people are not as fortunate as we have been.

Family Christmas 2015

Grandma’s mind started to give her trouble many years ago.  No one talked about it much.  We just quietly noticed.  Although, I suspect none of us noticed as much, or as soon as Pop surely did.  Maybe it was the depth of his love that motivated him to care for her alone for so long as she slipped away.  I don’t think we’ll ever fully understand, but it was remarkable.  A love story like theirs is almost unheard of in this generation.  It spanned time and space and well over 70 years.

And when the day came that Pop was no longer to be with us, Grandma gained residence in Clove Lakes Nursing Home.

For almost two years the staff of 6A got to know her.  They don’t have an easy job.  You have to have a special heart.  But, they do it with compassion and integrity.  They took the days she lashed out in stride, and sat and talked to her on the other days.  They learned of a woman, who even with a “broken filter” loved God, her husband, and her family.

Some time around Thanksgiving, Grandma stopped eating solid foods.  And although she would, at the start of it, take some Ensure, slowly she transitioned to an all Ginger Ale diet.  And, if you ever bad mouthed Ginger Ale, I’d like to tell you to consider it’s life sustaining properties.  Grandma lived well over a month on Ginger Ale!

For only the last two weeks or so, Grandma spent most of the day in her bed.  It was more comfortable for her thin, weakening frame.  And it was during those visits, Ginger Ale in hand, that we had some of the most remarkable conversations.

Long had passed the day when Grandma knew who I was.  I asked her one day if she knew me, and she gave me a crooked smile and shook her head.  She said simply, “but I know that I love you”.  And, that was quite enough.  I asked if it was OK if I called her Grandma, and she said, “yes”.  So, that was how we rolled.  It didn’t matter if she knew my name.  It mattered that her face brightened when I walked into a room.  The love was deep in her heart.

I started jotting down some of the things she was saying, so I’d have them to look back on, and I have to tell you, I had some good laughs these last few weeks.

Grandma was in her clearest voice saying the Lord’s Prayer one day very recently.  And as she said, “Lead us not into temptation,” she paused, opened her eyes, looked at me, and said, “That’s a bad one…” and proceeded to finish the prayer.  Right to the point.  I got it Grandma… don’t worry.

She prayed a lot those last few days.

She also asked for a bat one day.  Trust me, she had no interest in playing ball.  She wanted a bat to get after one of the most gentle aides on the floor.  Marlene laughed and never even paused while she carefully and lovingly repositioned Grandma.  I was in the room a few days later when Grandma told Marlene she loved her.  That was Grandma, right telling exactly what was on her mind – to the end.

She talked about Pop too.  One day she said during her prayers, “And my darling Ed, don’t forget him.  I bless him and I pray for him.  He’s my best friend.  He’s been my best friend a lot of years…”

She told me she “had a nice time”.  She talked about a trip that she initially didn’t want to take.  But, she came around.  She said, “I have to go with my husband and my chocolate”.  She said, “I have to trust”.  And she told me Jesus died so heaven was “guaranteed”.

The day she left us we played music for her.  With the help of the internet we pulled out her favorite hymns.  She couldn’t talk much, so we played, “My Jesus I Love Thee,” “Amazing Grace,” “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” “I The Lord of Sea and Sky,” “Beautiful Savior,” “How Great Thou Art…” The list went on.  And, with each passing song she seemed to settle.  She fell into a peaceful sleep.  She was finally almost ready.

Grandma and Pop are back together again now.  I remember after Pop died, and Grandma could not really process his passing, the decision was made not to tell her.  We were told that there really was only a door between them, and the amount of time they’d be on opposite sides of the door was short, especially relative to the time they were together.

Truer words could not have been spoken.  And, as much as we will all miss them terribly, there are people who are just better together.  Grandma and Pop were two of those people.

 

Grandma’s passing marks the end of an era. In addition to being our matriarch, she was the last surviving of the 6 children in her own immediate family.

Grandma and Pop may no longer be here with us, but they leave behind children, and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, and friends, each with personal, specific, life altering memories.

I have no doubt all the angel choirs are singing today.

I’ll leave you with the prayer Grandma said at the end of almost every Lord’s Prayer this week- “Lord, bless us and make us a blessing to others.  AMEN!”

December 30, 1945
                                     A love story that knows no end…

 

 

“Count Your Many Blessings…”

Count your many blessings, count them one by one.  Count your many blessings see what God has done…”

The song has been stuck in my head all afternoon.  I remember as a youth singing the song in church.  I must have sung it plenty of times, because the lyrics are stuck in my subconscious.  And, as things int he subconscious tend to do – they often pop out at just the right time.

rare supermoms

 

A busy weekend full of blessings.

Saturday we celebrated the anniversary of my Mom and StepDad.  25 years is quite a milestone, and we were so thrilled to celebrate with family and a few dear friends.

Mom and Ken anniversary

 

What a blessing that among the guests we had Grandma and Pop, and Grandma Hansen.  Although we missed Grandpa Hansen we were so thrilled to count our blessings together.

Mother’s Day morning I woke alongside my awesome husband.  I was greeted by my beautiful daughter and lots of hugs and kisses.  Some hand made cards, and a few nice gifts and we were off to church.

We traveled after church. to visit with Felix’s Mom and Dad.  We endured the (It could have been worse) Belt Parkway and spent some time with his parents, sister and nephew.  Felix’s Grandma passed away just a few short months ago, so this day was especially difficult for his Mom who was very close to her Mom.

On the return trip we make a quick visit to my mom and got to see the grandparents again.  How many 39 year olds can kiss a few Grandmothers on Mother’s Day?

How lucky am I to hug my Mother – a feisty lovable survivor of cancer and life?  How blessed am I to have her in my life -by my side?

As we headed home, absolutely exhausted.  That song started in my head.

“Count your many blessings…”

HappyMothersDay

I thought of the friends I have who are desperate to be mothers.  The friends who had to struggle to have the children they have.  The friends who have miscarried, and friends whose young children live in Heaven.  I thought about friends who miss their Moms, whose hearts ache every day at the loss – whether it was last week or a decade or more ago.  I thought about my friends who never got the years with their grandparents that I have had.

Shame on me for feeling tired.  How lucky am I to need a list to shop for Mother’s Day Cards?  How fortunate am I to have so much visiting to do that I can sparsely fit it all in?

One might think Mother’s Day is for relaxing – or spending quiet time alone.  But, I am aware that those years will come all too soon.  For now – let me run, and visit, and hug and chat.  Let me relish the moments in a life that is fleeting.

I kissed my little girl tonight.  I held her almost 5 foot frame and cuddled her as best I could.

She won’t be in school tomorrow.  A rampant virus, and her rotten immune system are not a good match.  She won’t plant with her science class the way she likes to.  She won’t play in the yard with her friends.

Tomorrow will be yet another day in the complicated life of a little girl with a multifaceted Rare Disease.  A day of  differences and disappointments.  A day she will handle with the same graceful smile she uses for every other aspect of her life.

My_Greatest_Bles_4bce6cc17bc3d

My daughter is the one who reminds me to count my blessings.

And, oh do I have many!

 

Why worry?

That feeling.  The one where the doors are about to close, and you have to make a decision.  Are you going to fight your way out… or give in and let them trap you?

The pile of bills and papers on my desk increases by the moment.  I am usually more on top of it than I have been these last few weeks.  When I say bills, don’t misunderstand.   We can pay our bills just fine.  The ones I am referring to are the countless ones from doctors and hospitals who have billed incorrectly, or have not billed our insurance carrier at all.  I am not the type to write the check until they have exhausted all options.  I need to get to the bottom of that pile.  Make those phone calls.  Do their job for them.

Ok so it’s not quite that bad, but its getting there!

I could say I lack the time, and to some extent that would be true.  They want to speak during business hours. I am available ideally, from about 8 PM until 2AM.  But, I think I also to some extent lack motivation.  It would be prudent to address this cycle of bills before our next round of appointments next month.  Meghan has a few critical appointments during the winter break, and a few at the beginning of December.  Not to mention the eye doctor that I still haven’t rescheduled.  And the orthodontist – UGH, have to call the dental carrier too!

I am used to this to some extent. I have never known any different.  It has been my whole life and Meghan’s too.  Only during the last year did it get a name.  But the reality is still very much the same.  Constant appointments, hoping for no new tumor growth anywhere, followed by a cycle of bills that need to be rebilled and corrected.  It always works out.  But it does get a bit old.

This month it has been especially hard to focus.  Hurricane Sandy rocked Staten Island so hard that you would have to be living under a rock to be unaffected.  We are guiltily grateful that we were safe and blessed – but it is hard to get the images out of your mind, or the reality of the people that need help.  We all do what we can. Certainly a time to “Pay it Forward” here.

Then there is my dears sweet Grandma.  Grandma fell on the day of the hurricane, and spent the week recovering from head trauma in ICU.  She is home now, improving daily.  She is walking with a walker, weary of her time in bed, and anxious to move as much as she can.  She is such a fighter.  I am so incredibly impressed by her determination, but that is nothing new.  At 92 she is blowing expectations out of the water.  She is amazing, and inspirational.

And, so is my Pop.  He loves Grandma so very much that it is almost breathtaking to watch.  I have had the privilege of spending lots of time with them these last few weeks, and I am inspired.

Ok – December 30th it will be 67 years, but the concept is perfect!

I was lucky enough to spend the night on Thursday.  After everyone was ready to sleep and I was settled in on the couch, Pop brough his chair over to Grandma and held her hand as she fell asleep.  True love at its best.

Today, a VERY kind nurse.  A stranger to us, but a friend of a dear friend came and took the stitches out of Grandma’s head.  Like an angel sent to us, she lovingly removed the sutures, and later thanked me.  She was awed by the love she witnessed between my grandparents.  She would take no money.  She just was so thrilled to help.  She was our angel on earth today, saving us a potentially dangerous trip to Urgent Care.

Grandma doesn’t have Cowden’s Syndrome.  As a matter of fact I am increasingly certain I am the first in my family to inherit the PTEN mutation that causes Cowden’s Syndrome.  That genetic defect was handed over to my daughter as well.  But Grandma doesn’t have it.  I am sure.  What she has is an intense, loving, fighting spirit, and a desire to be well.   That – I did inherit!

The piles are larger than I like.  They are everywhere, and I admit to feeling a bit stressed about the lack of control.  But, I am smart enough to be aware of the blessings around me.  To be thankful, and have a heart full of gratitude.  For it is the little things that make all the difference.

Seriously, a Snowstorm?

I try not to make a practice of questioning God.  He always somehow proves to me He has it all together.  But sometimes, it is REALLY, REALLY hard…

Like tonight.  I am tired.  And I have some nerve saying it.  But I am.  Tired, and worried – about my family, both immdediate, (like Grandma, who is making physical improvements daily,) and my Staten Island family

We are a week, OK 9 days out from Hurricane Sandy.  I STILL know people without power.  Gas lines are no longer something you address on your lunch, and those are the minor concerns… the really minor ones.

We are, as I type, being pummelled by a Nor’Easter.  There is snow frantically falling.  As it falls the trees, shook by last week’s wind are getting heavier.  It is only a matter of time before they begin to fall.  We are expecting gusts of up to 50 mph tonight.

And all of this would be manageable.  If it weren’t for the absolute raw devastation my hometown is trying to endure.

I stayed away from the beach for a week, but yesterday we had the opportunity to do some volunteer work as part of our workday.  My trip to Midland Beach was life changing.

I posted the pictures.  The ones I saw on the news – of the places I had been.  And the streets I had walked.  And I thought I had some level of understanding.  I was so wrong.

As I drove down Hylan Blvd, and I saw the car windows open on the lot of the dealership, it occurred to me that they had been flooded out.  Knowing that they were a good distance from the water my heart really sank.  There was a smell of mold, and water in the air.  There was dust on the street.  There were mile long gas lines.  Was this my hometown, or a something out of a war scene?

I turned down New Dorp Lane, towards Miller Field, where my girl played soccer with her friends for a few seasons.  We always joked as parents about the chill in the air so close to the water, as we cheered on our “Ladybugs.”

Well it was still cold.  And there was no cheering.

The parking lot held a Red Cross truck, with food donations, a warming bus, several other food sites, some insurance vans, and lots of people milling about.  Maybe like a movie shoot – except this is real life.

I was looking for my colleagues, who I thought to be closer to the water, so I walked.  As I walked I could not help but stare.  I thought I had seen the devastation.  It wasn’t until I saw – that I was even able to process a FRACTION of the scope of this tragedy.  I had no one directly connected to me who lost a home.  Friends of friends, sure.  It’s Staten Island, and everybody knows someone, but my direct connection was minimal.

As I walked and absorbed what I was seeing.  As I let it pierce my subconscious…I felt like I was walking through the middle of someone else’s really bad dream.

On the windows of the houses closest to the beach, were stickers.  Red meaning uninhabitable, yellow meaning proceed with caution, and green meaning its ok to occupy.  Mind you these were markers of structural soundness with no consideration of water damage.  I saw very few green ones.

A few block farther back there were makeshift streetlights, because no one has power.  There were police cars, checking ID at the corners to protect these devastated people from looters.

As I got back in my car to head home I took a left instead of a right.  I ended up deeply imbedded in sights unlike any I had ever seen.  People’s entire lives, on their front lawn.  I had to photograph, simply because the reality needed to be shared – with my daughter, and others.

The front lawn of someone’s home

It took a few minutes to get back to the main street.  Moving slowly and respectfully as I passed a charging station, tents of water and food, people frantically roofing homes… I prayed.

And another one…

When I got back to Hylan Boulevard, I crossed over, headed for home.  I passed Meghan’s former endocrinologist’s office – supplies in the parking lot – seemingly gutted.  The water had devastated far beyond its apparent reach.

There are collections everywhere.  At my school, at the church of my youth, seemingly everywhere you turn.  Yet I am not sure all the supplies are getting where they need to be.  I am not sure who is going to help them. Really help  them put their lives back together.

That is one small corner of the loss in my hometown.  Had I continued to travel the coast I would have seen similar scenes replayed over and over.  God Bless the Sanitation Department for this herculean task.  God help us all as we have generated such an excessive amount of trash in such a short time period.

The work day ended then, and I headed to my other life.  To pick up my beautiful girl.  To visit with my grandma.  To vote, and to prepare all things necessary for the next day.  In our house we have some sense of normalcy.

Even though our own normal is peppered with Cowden’s Syndrome,  illnesses, and scans, and growths, and regrowth – it is our normal.  And once again, I would not wish to trade places with ANYONE.

God, seriously though?  As I pray for the hearts, and the minds, and the bodies, and the souls, of my fellow Staten Islanders – a snowstorm?  Please… help them Lord, to stay safe and warm and dry.  Wrap them in a blanket of Your love, and let them be warmed by the power of our prayers, unceasing.

Four hours in the gas line

I left my house at 8:25 this morning.  Admittedly it was later than I had wanted, but I struggle to clear my head in the mornings these days.

I drove for a bit, to all the local gas stations.  I even spent a few minutes on line at one.  Then I had my friend Siri call to make sure they had gas.  Nope.  Off that line too.

I drove past a station with a line that seemed manageable.  I asked a woman if they had gas.  She cried.  She said, ” I have been here since midnight waiting.  The delivery just hasn’t come.”

I finally ended up at Costco.  I knew they had gas.  If you are not from Staten Island, it will mean nothing to you when I say that the line began at Richmond Avenue by Best Buy, wrapped around Forest hill Road, onto Richmond Avenue, and the BACK into the Costco lot.  I estimated 4 hours when I got on.  It was 9:42

Four hours in the gas line is a LONG time.  I had more time alone with my thoughts than I like.  Thankfully, I had the iPhone to keep me a bit busy.  But in between games of scrabble, there was way too much time to think.

It was flat out unnerving, almost surreal to be on a gas line of this magnitude.  No matter how I tried, I couldn’t wrap my head around it.  I just knew I needed a full tank to get me through the week, so I waited.

I thought about the hurricane.  Hurrican Sandy.  My mind wandered to Hurricane Katrina, and the news coverage I watched I remember feeling like it was so far away.  No more.

The recovery efforts taking place miles from my home, in areas I have frequented my whole life.  I thought about their homes, and then I thought about the people- returning to find their homes uninhabitable.  And those who could get in, well – they had the job of a lifetime ahead of them.

I thought about the mother, whose 2 babies were ripped from her arms in the rising waters.  The babies, safe in God’s hands.  The mother – tormented for all of her days.  I prayed one of the many prayers I pray for her each day.

I thought about friends from work.  Their losses.  One with a new baby on the way.  Waiting to have the FEET of water that entered their home addressed.  Others who suffered damage to their own homes, and the ones whose parents or relatives homes were destroyed.

I thought of the trees that make my neighborhood so spectacular – ripped from their roots.

It was a really long line.  So I had time to reflect on the courage, strength and resiliency I have seen.  I thought about the downed trees, and the friends STILL without power of heat.

I though about the looters, the liars, and those taking advantage of the tragedy.  And I truly hope God has a place all picked out for them.

I thought about my little girl, and all she has gone through, and how she continues to make me so proud.  Today she put some of her favorite stuffed animals in a bag, “For the kids who lost everything.’

And of course, all thoughts always return to Grandma.  92 years old – most of it spent right here on Staten Island.  She and Pop married in 1945, and moved into their current home in 1956.

Grandma came home last night.  Late.  So there was confusion as to exactly where she was, but we hung together as a family and worked out some of the kinks last night.  I was anxious to see her, and Pop.

I thought about this year.  The magnitude of so many things taking place in such a seemingly short period of time, and I remember why I am so tired.  The diagnosis of Cowden’s Syndrome – so permanent and life changing, and even on top of that, this year has seen surgeries, cancer, loss of loved ones, more cancer scares, natural disaster… and I am only getting started.

I will shop for Christmas, but mostly I want Christmas to come, because its time to celebrate the birth of the Baby Jesus.  We need something to celebrate.

1:35  (3 hours and 53 minutes) Hungry and tired, I pulled up to the pump.  I don’t know – or care how much the gas cost.  I only know my tank is full – at least for now.

Home for a quick shower, then right to Grandma.

Family.  It always mattered a lot.  It matters now more than ever.

Christmas 2009

The Storms of Life

As we prepared for Hurricane Sandy as best we could on Monday morning, we stopped by my grandparents house to tie up their barbecue and a few other things.  Wind precautions.

We stayed for about an hour.  We had comfortable conversation in the living room.  The same living room they have occupied my whole life, and for years before I was born.

We spoke about the storm, the trees, and being ready.

We spoke for a while about some of the storms they have seen in their lives.

I am always amazed when I stop and really think of all the changes that have taken place in the world since they were born in 1919 and 1920.  They have done such an admirable job keeping up – with everything.

They have been a  constant source of strength, support, and pillars of faith for our family in the midst of many storms.

So as the wind picked up, we kissed them and headed home.

Some time around 3:30 I started to hear of power outages.  I instinctively picked up the phone to check on them.  Pop answered with a concerned voice.  “Your grandmother fell in the basement. Your Mom and Ken are here.  The ambulance is coming.”

Suddenly Hurricane Sandy didn’t scare me as much.

These were the storms I worried about when I wrote this Sunday night…

“The greatest storms of life aren’t the ones that threaten our things, they are the ones that threaten those we love.”

Grandma‘s 90th birthday in 2010

Hours ticked by.  Shoddy cell phone service kept the updates brief.  Pop went in the ambulance.  Mom and Ken followed behind.  Head CT for the trauma to the head, confirmed no bleeding inside the brain.  Stitched and stapled, they waited for more confirmations – no broken bones.  A significant bruise on her hip earned her a bed in ICU as they are waiting to just confirm that it’s not bleeding either.  Strong vitals.  Strong woman.  That’s my Grandma.

Four generations of strong women!

I went to visit her in the hospital.  She was itching to get home.  Annoyed by all the fuss.

The hospital, which had lost power was running on generators.  The storm was wild and raging all around.

The nurses in ICU were calm and patient.  Attentive.

I listened as they recounted medical history and was impressed and almost stunned to hear Grandma at 92 has NEVER had surgery.

Guess the Cowden’s Syndrome didn’t come from her!

Trees crashed all around us.  Storm surges cost so many nearby their homes and their possessions.  It was hard to stay upset for long about the inconveniences of lost power.

Local Hurricane Damage

I spent a few hours last night with Grandma again in ICU.  We are hoping she is released to home soon, and hoping her power is on REALLY soon.  I watched my grandfather, still a pillar of strength at 93, by the bedside of his bride of almost 67 years, and I once again was awed by their ability to weather the storms of life -together.

At Pop’s 90th birthday in 2009

No need to remind me how lucky I am.  I already know.  No need to remind me that angels exist in this life – several were clearly softening Grandma’s fall Monday.  No need to remind me that the storms will pass.  I have seen the models of resilience.  I have been blessed with them for each day of my life.  I will cherish them always.

I will pray.  I will pray for grandma, and her health.  I will pray for those devastated by hurricane Sandy.  I will pray prayers of gratitude for those who weather the storm to help others.  And, I will offer prayers of thanks… lots of them.