Thursday, October 03, 2013

in loving memory

On Tuesday I found out my grandma Junie passed away.  She was 88 years old, & fell asleep in her chair & didn’t wake up.  She lived a long and fulfilling life & was very special to a lot of people.  Over the last several years she was suffering from Alzheimer’s, but we were lucky enough that she remembered us & her memory loss was more short term.  If you asked her about something that happened 50 years ago, she could recall it all so perfectly, but if you asked her if she went out for lunch the day before, she had no idea. 

She was everything a grandma could be and more.  She took care of my brother and I from the day we were born to the day we went off to college.  My parents both worked so she would come over bright and early every morning before school and make sure we were fed, our teeth were brushed, & we got on the bus.  She would do the laundry, & even put it away for us.  She took us to practices, appointments, to the mall, out to eat, anything we wanted, she was happy to do for us.  Now that I’m adult & trying to have a family of my own, I think of how blessed we were to have her around.  Many people aren’t lucky enough to spend almost every day of their childhood with their grandparent.  I have so many great memories of her that I will never forget.

She worked at Open Court Publishing (aka. Carus) for many years.  Her husband, Tom, passed away when my mom was just 4 years old.  She raised my mom and her brother by herself.  She was the first woman in the town of Peru to buy a home without a co-signer.  She was truly an amazing & well accomplished person.

In the last several years, after a slip in the bathtub where she wrapped a towel over her head & drove herself to the hospital, her health began to slowly diminish.  The memory loss began to set in, she began losing her appetite, and her once round figure resembled that of a tiny, fragile, old lady.  It was hard and sad to watch her become a different person, but she still always had a spark of her former self in the form of her sense of humor.  That, she never did lose.  Every Saturday when my mom and I would go visit over her over the last year or so, she always made me laugh. 

You can never really prepare yourself for a loss.  You can try to mentally make yourself ready for what life will be like after their gone, but it truly is impossible.  We were very lucky to have such a wonderful grandma who we got to spend so much time with.  She will forever be missed by so many.

Unfortunately, Tuesday did not get any better as I found out later in the evening that a long-time friend, Andy Hurst, had also passed away.  This came as a huge shock to all of his friends and family.  Andy was the most caring, generous, loving guy you would ever meet.  He would literally give you the shirt off his back & the money in his pocket if you asked for it.  He had beautiful blue eyes, and the whitest smile.  He had a lot of class & a great personality, but he was also the one who had the entire room laughing because of his antics. 

If you didn’t know him, you would never know the dark demons and personal battles that he has struggled for many years.  I had spent a lot of time with Andy about seven or so years ago.  We were really good friends at that time, we made a lot of poor lifestyle choices at that time, but we were only 20 years old & we were invincible.  We had so many good times at the club, hanging out in his apartment, partying our days away.  Over the last few years as we went away to college, got jobs, & grew up, we didn’t see as much of each other, but when I would see him working out at the Y, or at a bar on some random night, you would always get a big hug & a smile from him.  He genuinely cared about every single person that he knew.  You will not find many people like that. 

My heart just breaks for his family, who suffered an eerily similar loss just a few short years ago of Andy’s cousin Mike.  He was in my class at LP (Andy was my age, but went to St. Bede).  He struggled with a substance abuse problem that he just could not pull himself out of.  Andy was a funeral director & following in the footsteps of his father to one day take over the Hurst Funeral Home.  He was found in his car, unresponsive, in front of the funeral home.  The details of this story really do just pull at my heart strings.  It seems like it just cannot be true.  So many people are suffering because of this loss & I hope he knows what a tremendous impact his big heart & bright smile had on so many of us. 

I'd like to say thank you for all of the sincere words of condolence over the last few days.  Tuesday was not an easy day & tomorrow will be even more of a challenge as we say goodbye to two amazing people.  

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