Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Eve Toast and Grandma

Disclaimer: this post may seem sad. But if you look deep enough - it’s actually very happy.

Christmas Eve night, my family and I sat down to a huge traditional meal (it’s our tradition to eat lasagna on Christmas Eve - the big turkey meal is on Christmas Day). And my dad made a toast - to keeping family traditions alive ... and I think it was the first time I realized that I was ready to talk about my grandma.

When I was on my blogging break a few weeks back - it was because I had rushed up to Michigan with the kids to see my grandma - who had fallen terminally ill. Everyone warned me that she most likely wouldn’t recognize us and wouldn’t be able to acknowledge us. In fact, she had gotten so bad that she couldn’t talk or move anymore. And we all knew what she wanted. To see the kids and I.

And see us she did. In fact, she not only saw us, she recognized us (she heard my voice before she could even see me - from across the room), she spoke to me, she moved her hand up to me to hold my hand, she laughed, she smiled and it was the most wonderful day. Three days after that, she died.

And this is where it became hard to blog about.

I have a lot of personal feelings about her and about our relationship (all truly wonderful) ... and quite frankly ... I have just decided to keep them personal. I hold them very dear and it’s very very hard to talk or blog about them.

So, for now, I’m just going to describe her (and perhaps you will see some of the things that made her so special through my descriptions).

Lynette Helen Mee: January 1910 - December 2010:

Lynette Mee was born Lynette Seelig in Northport Michigan in 1910. She was the youngest of 6 girls - born into a German family (her parents are seen below). She and her sisters were not your typical group of women in that time period. They were encouraged to learn (in fact, their parents wanted them all to go to college), to study, and to have fun. And all of those things she did quite well. She graduated high school at just 16 years old - as valedictorian of her class (she was also the captain of her high school basketball team(seen below)).After that, she packed up her steamer trunks and headed (via train) to Michigan State University (by herself). Seriously, at 16...I was still picking my nose and whining to my parents about how hard algebra was.

At 18 years old she graduated from college (from Western Michigan University - she had transferred when she decided to become a teacher (graduation picture below)) and started her first teaching job (with 51 first graders - all of which could successfully read at the end of the school year). Later in life (while working as a teacher and raising two children) she earned her Masters Degree in education (she loved teaching - see below).

Do you see a pattern of (over) achievement here?

She met my grandpa (who’s parents owned a resort (read: speakeasy)) and had a garden wedding at her childhood home (seriously, how cute is that?).

She was a wonderful mother (so I am told by my mom and uncle (and everyone else that knew her)), she was the most wonderful grandmother (I could go on and on about how amazing she was ... in fact, my friends and I still talk about how much fun she was at my wedding (see below)),

she was a wonderful teacher, cook, role model (not a day goes by that I don’t ask myself what my grandma would think of me, how she would handle something or what she would do), pool player, poker player (in fact, she laughed out loud when I visited her a few weeks back because I told her I was going to break her out and bring her gambling), and great-grandmother (here she is with Carter when he was 7 months old). Carter had the honor to meet her and play with her and she loved Carter dearly.

Avery however did not get much of a chance to know her. I really wish that she had. Avery does have a very special piece of her great-grandma though...her name.

Avery’s middle name is Lyn - after her great-grandmother Lynette.

And I will spend the rest of my life making sure she knows how special that name is - because of how special the person she was named after was.


Andy said...

Great post. I wish I had been there for the toast. I know what you mean about wishing she had been able to meet and know Harrison as well, I also echo your thoughts that he will know who she was.

Gotfam said...

Thanks! We thought about you, Mere and Harrison a lot this weekend :)

Terri said...

Bless your heart. She sounds like a great woman. I'm sure some of that wonder and amazement rubbed off onto you. It's tough especially during Christmas to lose someone so close. I lost four special women over the last three years, my great-aunt, my mom, my paternal grandmother and another aunt. These were my "go to" women, my advisors, my heritage. God Bless you and your memories!

Bilbo said...

This is a great post, and it's a good thing to document the history of your family through photographs and reminiscences like this. I'm working hard on building a family history that I can pass on to my grandchildren so that they have a sense of the family they belong to and the adventures of those who came before them. Your grandmother sounds like a marvelous lady, and I'm sure she's proud of you and your family. And I'll share that toast to family traditions!

Wendy said...

Beautiful and perfect. She would be proud... especially since you didn't use any profanity! (I remember you telling me that she would call you out on that when you did it in the blog) :)

Thinking about you still and hoping you enjoyed the holidays.