A Life In Photos: A Tribute To My Grandma

Author’s Note: This was originally published on the previous version of Allison’s Written Words (on Blogger) on February 20, 2015.  In an effort to preserve this article, I’ve moved it to this version of Allison’s Written Words.

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I wrote this two days after my Grandma’s passing, after coming into work 45 minutes early.  I wasn’t as confident in my writing at that time, as I was going through a rough patch in my life (broken/sprained ankle, ended a relationship the day before my grandma died, not being able to dance because of the ankle injury), but I was determined, even if it was for me, to write a tribute to my grandma.  I didn’t have the opportunity (nor the platform) to do the same for my maternal grandfather when he passed away in 2000, nor did I have that for my dad’s parents (I was 11 when my paternal grandmother and 14 when my paternal grandfather passed away).

I finished this tribute within the same day, and pushed it to the side.  Again, it was a lack of confidence that didn’t compel me to publish it then and there.  When I came home from the funeral luncheon on February 20, 2015, I decided it was the right time to publish it.  I gave the article one last look-over, and let it loose on the internet.  I didn’t expect much of a reaction (my writing at the time didn’t get much notice, it was mostly for me), but what I got was family and friends sharing it for others to read.  My Aunt Marilyn (Grandma’s sister) sent my mom sympathy cards from people in her circle, and one of those cards, from a friend of my aunt, mentioned what I wrote about my grandma.

Writing this was the catalyst I needed – the kick in the right direction to pick up writing again, to fill the void not being able to dance had left.

If you’ve seen this before, thank you for reading.  If you haven’t, again, thank you for reading!

A Life In Photos: A Tribute To My Grandma

On February 10, 2015, Heaven gained a new, all-watching angel.

1968

 

My maternal grandmother (and last surviving grandparent), Catherine Nesgood, affectionately called “Kitty” by everyone she knew, passed away peacefully in her sleep.  She was 92 years old, and was in the late stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, a disease that ravaged her mind, and left her a shadow of the person I knew for the first 20 years of my life.  A physically healthy woman otherwise, she died in her sleep sometime in the early morning hours of February 10, 2015.  At the time of her death, she had lived with Alzheimer’s for almost twelve years, diagnosed in May 2003 with dementia, and later Alzheimer’s.

Contained herein, is the grandmother I knew, the grandmother I’ve missed since I was 20 years old, and the woman who is forever immortalized in the photos we keep in our house. I spent some time going through the pictures we have the evening of the day she passed away, and saw not only the grandmother I knew, but the mother my mom knew, the wife my grandfather fell in love with all those years ago, and the woman we all loved.  Even when she worried way too much.  I could tell you about her, but I think photos do more justice.

Two undated photos, but my mom said this was likely the 1940s, based on the bathing suit.  

 

My mom tells the story of how Grandma reacted to her pregnancy (with twins – my brother and myself) as “Grandma didn’t eat or sleep for four days.” Needless to say, in the years after we arrived, she babysat us, kept us at her house overnight, and did everything an amazing grandmother does.  She was kind, she always worried about everyone (and everything), and has left us with many great stories and “grandma-isms,” some of the things grandma always said or did.

1983 – Grandparents of twins!
October 1988 – Birthday fun with balloons falling from a Toys R Us bag.  This was our sixth birthday.
Christmas 1988 – For someone who loves being photographed, that Slinky couldn’t possibly have been more exciting.  It’s nice to know that I’m so easily amused… something that has not changed about me.

She was married to my grandfather for 59 years (August 24, 1941 until his death on October 6, 2000), and was lost after his death.  She had been married since she was 19 years old, and understandably, it had become hard to live without him.  She had never really been the same since he died.  I couldn’t blame her – 59 years is a long time to be with the one you love, only to see them tragically taken from you.  The fun, loving lady I knew began to show signs of change in the two years after his death.

Here are some photos of their life together.

This reminds me the Christmas episode of any given sitcom from the 1950s and 1960s. It’s actually from 1961.
They’re in love – he’ll try not to squash her against the bench.
And when he’s not squashing her on a bench, he’s posing nicely with her.
Sledding, anyone?
40th wedding anniversary – 1981
An undated, but perfect in every way, Christmas photo.  I think this was in the early 1980s (possibly my first Christmas in 1982).
With my Aunt Marilyn, Grandma’s youngest sibling (and only sister).  My aunt is fifteen years younger than my grandmother.  I believe this was the late 1990s – my grandfather was still alive at the time, that I do know.
Two Grandmothers.  My paternal grandmother, Mary Venezio (left), with Grandma Nesgood.  Grandma Venezio died from complications of Alzheimer’s Disease in 1994.  Both sets of grandparents lived in the same retirement community, and lived a block apart. I hope they’re chatting it up again.  🙂
1963 – My mom (the young lady in the photo) said this was taken at her paternal grandmother’s house.  Again, did everyone model in their family photos?
So… you haven’t met my Grandma’s friends, Ronnie and Nancy Reagan?  She beat up several Secret Service Agents just to get to this… cardboard statue.
And then she got lei’d.  True story.
I hope you enjoyed this tribute as much as I enjoyed putting it together.  Grandma will be laid to rest alongside the love of her life in the mausoleum he was laid to rest in 14 years ago.  On that day, we will be reminded of how much grandpa is still missed, and how much we will miss grandma.
Forever loved, and always missed.  May you find the comfort of leaving your suffering behind.  We know you are at peace, comfortable, whole, and happy with those you love and lost before you.
I love you, Grandma.
June 12, 1922 – February 10, 2015

Afterthoughts

In the five years since I wrote this piece, alot has happened.  As I mentioned, I had ended a relationship the day before my grandma passed away (master of timing, I know).  While it had been on my own terms, I was in a personal funk before the relationship ended – I sprained my ankle a few months earlier, but waited too long to get it checked, and then proceeded to break it four days before the follow-up orthopedic appointment (it was diagnosed as a healed avulsion fracture two years later during a different orthopedic appointment).  I had been wearing a walking boot for a few weeks when I wrote this.  I was unhappy because I had to stop dance school, but also because months of “putting up” with an unhappy and unfulfilling relationship take a toll on you mentally and spiritually.

I was ok with the terms I left the relationship on, but I was still trying to get myself into a place I needed to be.  Writing this piece helped with my confidence to write again, and a few months later, I made a bigger change with my writing – starting Allison’s Written Words anew on WordPress.  I didn’t move any pieces of the past blog over, just started anew and considered the previous blog my “archives.”  I’ve been running this version of the site for almost five years (eight years total between both sites this coming May – I established both sites during the same month, three years apart). I’m proud of the direction it has gone in, and the opportunities I’ve had to express myself in my writing.  I found the purpose I wanted through my writing.  It has been an incredible therapy to talk about things I love, to a responsive audience of whatever size it is.

Six months after I published this article, I was lucky enough to meet someone that would  take my life in the wonderfully right direction it has gone in.  I met James in August 2015 at the Stargate Convention I was attending (I had met him briefly in 2014, but I was with my boyfriend at the time, so the interaction was limited).  A friendship came of that encounter – his sense of humor and charming personality were a breath of fresh air in an improving life.  A few months later, we took that friendship to the next level, and if you’ve visited this blog more than once in the last two years, you know how the story goes. 🙂

Three years and one week after my grandmother passed away, I got engaged, and fourteen months after that, we married.  Oh, and it got better.  We bought our first home together only five months after our wedding.  Five years ago, I would never have believed anything that would happen in 2019.  But it all did, and I’m loving the life I’ve been lucky enough to have.

And I’m sure my grandma – all my grandparents – have been watching.

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