Grandma Says..

Observations and views from a different set of eyes

The Hole In My Heart

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I miss my sister.  There is a void in my heart that will never be filled.  Although she passed over five years ago; not a day goes by when she’s not in my thoughts.

I still hear her laughter.  I picture her across the table from me, nursing a cocktail, smoking a cigarette and giggling about some prank we pulled when we were in high school together.  My sister was more than a sibling; she was my friend.

In our early years, we were inseparable.  If you saw one of us; the other one was not far behind.  We had each other’s backs, although my sister seldom needed a champion.  Everyone loved her; she had a quick wit; a beautiful smile and a heart that wouldn’t quit.

I didn’t hear my phone ring that day; I had been busy with some chore or another.  When I spotted my phone, I saw I had a message and checked my voice-mail.  I heard my niece’s voice ask me to call her at my sister’s house.  I was confused, my niece lived in Key West; why was she home?

I tried my sister’s home phone but got no answer, so I tried next to reach her on her cell phone.  The call went to voice-mail and that’s the last time I heard my sister’s voice.

When I finally managed to reach my brother-in-law, he told me that my sister had been rushed to the hospital with post-op pneumonia;  she had not survived the night. That was the moment a piece of my heart was ripped out;  in it’s place was a empty hole.

My sister passed away at the tender age of 55, much too young to be taken from me.  We had always joked about how we would share a room in a nursing home together and raise hell with the old folks.  We would dye our hair blue; we would haunt bingo halls and we’d laugh till we ached.

I had lost my father twelve years before my sister’s death; I lost my oldest brother seven months after she passed.  These deaths were hard; but they were after my dad and brother had been suffering from long-term illnesses, they were painful but not unexpected.

The sudden death of my sister dealt me a crushing blow, and it took me a few years to be able to talk about her.  I kept my grief close and my tears were shed in private.

Over the years, I have managed to fill some of that gaping hole with wonderful memories of the time we did have together.  I see glimpses of her in my youngest son and my granddaughter and that comforts me.  But, the hole has never completely healed. It’s still painful when I think of my sister; I still struggle with my grief.

I believe that the hole in my heart will remain, no matter how hard I try to fill it,  until I join my sister one day. Only then will my heart be complete once more.  But, until that day, I will miss her with all that’s left of my heart.

I love you, Sis!

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The Family With No Hugs

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My father never hugged me.  I don’t know why.

My dad was an orphan at a very young age.  His mother died giving birth to a daughter and his “Da”  died of Hodgkin’s disease when my father was ten years old.  He and his sister were taken in by his mother’s sister.   This aunt and her husband doted on my father’s sister, dressed her in new clothes and spent hours parading her around the parks.  They barely tolerated my dad, dressed him in hand-me-downs and he was sent off to play in the parks by himself.

Sad, lonely and miserable, my dad ran away from the this uncaring home in New Jersey and set off to walk to Connecticut, where he knew he had other aunts and uncles from his father’s side.  He prayed one would take him in.  He was picked up by police within miles of his destination; a phone call to the aunt was made and she told them to deliver him to my father’s brother, who lived in Black Rock, Connecticut.  His uncle Tom, took pity on him and gave him shelter.  His uncle had no trouble convincing the aunt that my dad was better off with him; she gave no objections, at all.

My dad would often talk of his life with his Uncle Tom.  Tom and his wife were childless so they adopted my dad a year later.  He talked about the love and the respect he had for his new family and the joys of being raised with many other doting aunts and uncles.  He talked little about his life before them.

My mother never hugged me.  I don’t know why.

My Mom was raised in a middle income family in Fairfield, Connecticut.  Her parents both worked hard to give my mom and her brother all they needed.  But, her parents had an unhappy marriage.  My Grandpop was a philanderer while my Nana suffered the humiliation and pain silently, they were Catholic and divorce was out of the question.  My mom was brought up in a house filled with anger, resentment, and cold silences.  My mom’s brother escaped into the Navy and my mom escaped into marriage as soon as she could.

My Mom and Dad met during the end of World War II, in a bar.  They had been dating but a few short months when my mom became pregnant with my oldest brother.  They married and went on to have four children; I was the third.

My father was an alcoholic, a funny lovable drunk, who showered my mom with presents when he came home from a long night of drinking.  He had trouble keeping a job, so my mother was usually the main breadwinner in our house. We didn’t have much growing up but we kids had each other.  But, my parents didn’t hug and we kids didn’t hug, and I don’t know why.

I’m getting older now and I look back at my childhood with a grownup eye.  I realize that being brought up in a house with no hugs was the reason that I now hug everyone I love.  My children would feel my love when I hugged them off to school or before they went to sleep.  I treasured those hugs.

I’m with a man now that isn’t afraid to hug.  We hug before one of us leaves the house and we hug when one returns.  I feel complete when my arms are wrapped around a friend, my man or my kids and their families.  I especially hug my granddaughter, and with each hug I tell her how much I love her.  I now give and get all the hugs I never got growing up.

But, I still feel sad that my family never hugged me.  And, I don’t know why.

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I Cry..I Mourn..I Pray

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I was having lunch with Danny on December 14, 2012. We were watching the noon edition of the news on the television, when the report of a shooting in Newtown, Ct. was reported. Details were sketchy, but the announcer said that twenty-six people had lost their lives, many of them children.

I set down my glass, grabbed my napkin, and cried. Danny and I were speechless as the report stated that innocent children had lost their lives at the hands of one, evil gunman. I cried.

I looked at Danny; he was sitting, motionless, and tears were streaming down his face. We couldn’t speak, we could only listen and shake our heads in disbelief.

We watched as the video showed small, helpless children being evacuated from the school, with their hands raised in the air and terrified looks on their faces. I cried.

We saw frightened parents outside the school, waiting for word of their children, not knowing if they were dead or alive. I cried.

As the days passed, we watched as the reports came in about the heroics of the principal and the teachers, who lost their lives trying to protect their students and I wept.

Then, the mourning began. I mourned for the unbelievable loss of these twenty-six precious lives.

I mourned for the parents, I mourned for the families, and I mourned for the nation.

Time will pass and we will all move on, as difficult as that is to believe right now, and as hard as this horrifying event is to accept. But, we will never forget and that is right.

Now, I pray. I pray that these angels in heaven will watch over us and feel the love we send their way, in our thoughts and prayers.

I pray that the parents, families and the nation will begin to heal.

And, I pray that nothing like this ever happens again.

God hold you tight, sweet angels! Rest in peace.

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