Sunday, November 30, 2008

September 10, 1913 ~ November 13, 2008

We had another empty seat at our Thanksgiving table this year. Seventeen days ago my dear mother-in-law, Annette, passed away at the grand old age of 95. John and I were both blessed to be with her at the end of her amazing life. I wish you could have known her.

When she was only six years old she and her siblings, Edward and Mary, lost their parents in the 1918-1918 flu epidemic. They were placed in a Knights of Pythias home for widows and orphans known as the Pythian Castle. Sadly, for reasons unknown to me, Mary died while living there.

Annette was a cheeky little girl who loved roller skating and teasing the boys- when she wasn't trying to impress her friends by eating raw liver as she helped prepare it for dinner in the orphanage! She never spoke ill of her experiences there even though she had her tonsils removed in a makeshift library/"operating room" and grew to hate oatmeal due to its abundant overuse as a breakfast staple- a disdain she passed on to not only her son, but to her great-grandson, Ian, as well.

After High School she studied to become a beautician. Before long she was "adopted" into the hearts of a kind couple, Nana and Dodo, with a teenage daughter of their own, Loraine. The two of them worked in her "adoptive" parents restaurant where I think she met her first husband, Pat. He was a handsome young man and my husband's birth father. Sadly, he died of a heart attack when John was only 18 months old, another tragic loss for poor Annette. It amazes me that this young woman (she was only 41) who already knew more heartache and loss than most people experience in a lifetime, not only persevered, but remained a cheerful, loving, generous human being.

When John was 5 years old she married her second husband, Jack. She adored John and most likely would have spoiled him rotten if she hadn't married a level headed, but loving man. Together they reared John in a happy, healthy home- despite the fact that she lost hers so early in life! She could always be counted on to pitch in as room mother or cheer John and his friends on during one of their many sporting events- which she often drove them to. On weekends they made the long trip from L.A. to the Arizona desert to play in the surf and sand and work on the home they would later retire to. Well into her golden years she would continue her morning walks and rounds of golf.

I entered the picture as a young girl of 16. John was only 19. We were young (obviously!) and soon fell in love. When we decided that we should get married when I turned 18, instead of laughing, yelling, or fainting, she continued to love and support not only her son, but me as well. That love and support never wavered.

After Jack died in 2001 we moved her near us, just down the street as a matter of fact. She was 87 and still going strong physically, but gradually we began to see a decline in her mental capabilities which we later learned were the result of Alzheimer's disease. Those were challenging years, but through it all she remained her sweet, cheerful self with few exceptions.

Over the years she was blessed with many grandchildren and great grandchildren, and they, like all who knew her, were blessed to have loved and been loved by her. Oh the memories they could share! What a wonderful thing to leave such a legacy of love to so many.

Mom, you may be gone, but you will never be forgotten.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Dia de Bloglandia

Welcome to my little contribution to Dia de Bloglandia in honor of Dia de los Muertos. I started this post at my daughter's last night so I didn't have a picture of my ofrenda, in fact I had to wait until I got home today to finish it so I could update my pictures.

I wanted to celebrate the Day of the Dead in memory of my grandmother and my parents. Near the picture of my Grandma Lucy I put her well worn rosary, her bottle of holy water, and a stone my brother brought to her from Jerusalem. A Christmas tree represents my mother's love of Christ and Christmas. Along with the deer and donkey it also reminds me of their love for their home in the country. The tractor is for the many hours my dad spent working on their property and giving rides to the grandkids. I think he loved that almost as much as they did! My mom was very creative but I think she enjoyed sewing the most, so I added a needle and spool of thread with a mini basket of sewing supplies on top. I look forward to adding more symbols each year.

Before I went to Rachel's for the weekend she covered some styrofoam skulls in glitter so we could decorate them with puffy paint to create faux sugar skulls. Isn't she clever? She also decorated the doll for her ofrenda. It represents her grandmother, my mother.

This is me rolling out flour tortillas. The rolling pin was made from an old pipe by my grandfather for my grandmother. Even though I have fond memories of my grandma making tortillas for me when I would go to her house for a visit, this is the first time I have ever made them myself!

Not a one turned out round, but boy were they yummy!

This whole experience has been so wonderful. Thanks to Stephanie and Susan I will definitely be celebrating Dia de los Muertos from now on!

This is just a little bonus pic of me and my grandsons :D