Thursday, November 29, 2012

♥ Grandma ♥

First let me start by saying that this will probably be a rambling mess, but I needed to get these words and thoughts out.  Please bear with me...
I didn’t want to wake up this morning.  I didn’t want to roll over to find “that message” on my phone, but I had to get moving.  There was a message, from my mom, letting me know that they had gotten home safely from the 6 hour drive to and from Ukiah.  They had driven down in the rain to sit with my grandma and to say their good-byes.  “She knew we were there and we told her we loved her and that we would see her one day… the doctor says she could go anytime.  I think she is waiting for everyone to go home and let her go in peace!”, the message read.
Grandma and her family
My grandma, Gisella Minahan, was the strongest woman I have ever known.  She was born on July 19, 1923.  When she was 4, she came to America with her family from Stegersbach, Austria.  At the age of 17, she left home to join the Transcontinental Roller Derby Association out of Chicago, IL.  Grandma then married my Grandpa Gordon and had four daughters and one amazing son, my dad.  Soon, she would find herself a single-mom, raising her 5 children alone.  She did what she had to do to provide for her family.

First Communion
Grandma gave birth to another son, but alone and unmarried, she gave him up for adoption.  She carried that pain with her until she was reunited with him almost 40 years later.
Roller Derby Queen
Love found her again in my Grandpa Bakker.  They had a beautiful daughter together.  Grandpa passed away not long after I was born, and Grandma found herself alone again.

Several years later, Grandma met and married a wonderful man, Joe Minahan.  I loved seeing Grandma and Papa together.  They were complete opposites, but loved each other just the same.  Papa died about 15 years ago (seems like only yesterday).

Since then, Grandma lived alone, under the watchful, loving eye of my Aunt Anita.  She had knee replacement surgeries, lost an eye to cancer (the boys thought her glass eye was totally cool), and her health slowly began to fail her.

Grandma with my dad
I hadn’t seen Grandma in quite some time.  It pains me to admit just how long it had been.  There were always excuses why we couldn’t make the drive north—car trouble, school commitments, dogs, etc.  Stupid really.

My Aunt Anita called last night.  Most of the family was gathered around Grandma in her small room at the home.  She wanted to put me on the speaker phone so I could talk to Grandma.  “I love you very much,” were the only words I could get out, tears streaming down my face.  I hoped that she had heard me and that she knew just how much she meant to me.
Grandma and "the five"
Another message came this morning while I was getting the boys ready for school.  “Grandma went to be with the Lord at 1:30 this morning!”, is all it said.  The message that I so selfishly didn’t want to receive.  I didn’t want her to be gone.  Even though I knew that she was no longer in pain or suffering.  Even though I knew that she was with her Heavenly Father and all her loved ones who had gone before, I didn’t want to see those words.  I wanted to be able to pick up the phone and hear her voice, “Hello, Julie.  It’s Grandma.”. 
Grandma and Papa at our wedding
But as my heart is aching, I can find comfort in the fact that I will see her again someday.  I know that the same God that stood with his arms wide open to receive Grandma into Paradise this morning, is the same God that is there with wide, open arms to hold and comfort me.  We all grieve in different ways, but by giving Him my grief, I’ll find peace.
Grandma with Matthew
I will miss Grandma.  She was an amazing woman.  I will cherish the memories I have of her and rejoice in the legacy that she has left in our family.  Thank you Grandma, for the strength you showed and the love you so freely gave.  I love you.

My Dad and Grandma


  1. hi Sweetie
    what a beautiful story to share about your beloved grandma. I know how sad you are--it is so hard and nothing anyone can say will ease the pain. But you have such special memories and stories of her to cherish. I send my prayers for you and your loved ones who hurt so much right now. God bless you.

    1. Crying with you, Julie. Trust me when I say Grandma will come to visit you in special ways. The day my Grandma died, I had a ladybug visit me inside my house. Ever since then, I get a sporadic ladybug (again in the house~kitchen to be exact) and other bizzare places where you least expect to to find them. My Grandma loved ladybugs and I know it's a sign from her saying hello. Hugs to you.

    2. Thank you, Amber. I'll be watching for her. ♥

  2. Such a beautiful tribute! Thank you for sharing your heart-felt thoughts and the photos. You are in my prayers. Love, Carolyn

  3. What a wonderful tribute! She was a wonderful, strong woman and that same strength is in you my friend. I know you are sad and will miss her but it is only a little while until we see our loved ones you!

  4. Beautiful tribute to your Grandmother Julie.

  5. I loved this story - thanks for sharing it. I'm sorry for your loss. Just started reading from Affaire at Downton.


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