Thursday, August 30, 2007

Goodbye, Sweeite

Mary "Sweetie" Walsh, my maternal grandmother, died today in Cleveland. After years of living with Alzheimer's Disease, she passed away in hospice care surrounded by her children. Ever since the death of her husband, my Grandpa Bill, Sweetie had been fading farther and farther from the woman I knew as Grandma as a kid.

The Sweetie Walsh that I knew as a kid was a truly jolly woman. I remember the smells and the feelings associated with being at her house. There were always cooking smells. She was always cooking something, more often than not in the oven, so it was always a surprise to see what she'd pull out after the timer dinged. I remember the smell of old things. She had a basement, a second floor, and closets full of old things. Things from her children's childhoods. Things from the '50s and '60s. Things that my brothers and I used to pull out, try on, play with, and occasionally make a mess of. I suppose she treasured these things, or maybe growing up in the post depression era taught her not to throw anything out, lest it be needed later.

I remember the feel of her velveteen sofa. One of my favorite pastimes when visiting grandma was napping. My Grandpa Bill taught me how to nap. Before that, I thought that napping had to be done in bed, but Grandpa showed me that naps could be taken on the sofa, or even sitting in a chair in front of the TV.

Grandma would always spoil us too. I remember her ice cream sundaes as some of the best I've ever had. We had ice cream at home occasionally, sure. But at Grandma's house you could always count on ice cream with chocolate syrup, sprinkles, melted peanut butter, and very often there were some Spanish peanuts thrown into the mix. Ole! And she would make a damn fine root beer float, too.

One of the things I remember best about my grandma is her sense of humor. She always knew how to make me laugh. I'm sure when I was a baby she gave me raspberries on my tummy and played peek-a-boo, but even as I grew older, I recognized the savvy about her that, when combined with her sweetness, made it hard for anyone to resist her charm by not smiling or laughing.

All the Christmases where she got me the perfect gift and beamed as I opened it, all the baptisms and weddings where she wore her best dress and was the warm center of the family that everyone gathered around. All of the nights where she gave me a bath and then sang to me as I tried my best to go to sleep in the old scary back room of her house, and all of the little looks of fondness and love that she gave so freely every day. These are the things I will forever remember of my Grandma.

I love you, Grandma Sweetie, and I will miss you.

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9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe that was so beautiful. Thank you for sharing. I wish you were here but I'm enjoying your adventure and wish you all the best. Missing you!!
Auntie Ann

August 31, 2007 at 10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe -

Condolences on the passing of your Gramdma Sweetie. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. Take comfort in knowing that she's in a better place.

Uncle Robert

August 31, 2007 at 8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe,
You loved your grandmother very much and it shows. How proud she would be to read what you have written.
Try to use her as a role modelin you spiritual life and you will honor her in the best way possible!!
LOve ya

September 1, 2007 at 6:30 AM  
Blogger Sue & John said...

Joey - I know how much your Grandma loved you and how proud she was of you and all of your brothers. But you were her FIRST grandbaby, the one she would spoil rotten. How could she not, you were the cutest little kid! You have so many wonderful memories of your grandparents - memories that you will hold on to for the rest of your life, and tell your children about. You'll laugh and you'll cry remembering her. I am so glad that you and all of your brothers are old enough to remember both your Grandma Sweetie and your Grandpa Bill, as not everyone gets to have their grandparents for as long, or as close, and have so many happy times with them. You added so much happiness and joy to their lives. We know that our life here on earth is so temporary, and hopefully lived in anticipation of Eternal Life promised by our Lord. I'm sure both Grandma Sweetie and Grandpa Bill will enjoy Eternity together!! They'll always be with you in your heart.
We love you and miss you here!
Peace & Prayers, and lots of hugs!

September 1, 2007 at 7:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe--

We're so sorry about your Grandma Sweetie. The memories are ones that you'll have forever, and you'll often tell your children about her. Geographically you're far away, but you and your family are very close to all of our hearts.

Love Uncle Matt, Aunt Beth Ada and Ethan

September 1, 2007 at 7:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joe,

I was really sorry to hear about your grandmother. What you've written really conveys perfectly the bond that some people are fortunate enough to have with a grandparent. I'll be thinking about you and your family.

-Sean H.

September 2, 2007 at 6:07 AM  
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