Sunday, November 6, 2011

Reflections on my grandma

Last Saturday I attended the funeral of my last living grandparent, Louise Edwina Overly. As hard as it is to lose a grandparent, I am grateful that her suffering on earth is over and she is now able to be reunited with her husband, my grandfather, who we affectionately called “Papa Bob.”

Considering her age and the fact that she outlived almost everyone in her generation, I was surprised that so many people came to her funeral. There were at least fifty people, many of whom I had never met. My family, of course, had reserved seats—the first two pews at the front of the church. As I took my seat in between my husband, Ben, and cousin, Amber, I fixed my gaze on a beautiful portrait of my grandparents which had been placed just in front of the podium where the gospel is read. It was a picture of my grandparents in their sixties and it is how I remember them when I was a young child. My grandmother was still vibrant and healthy when that photograph was taken, not yet crippled, broken, and tired.
The funeral began with several of her favorite hymns, which she actually picked herself for her own funeral. We sang together, “The Old Rugged Cross,” and “How Great Thou Art.” I could see my cousin, Jeff, in the front row, become emotional. Jeff was my grandmother’s only grandson, and while she wouldn’t admit to having favorites, we all knew that Jeff was undoubtedly her favorite grandchild.
I held it together for most of the ceremony. That is until my mom came up to speak. My mother, dressed in a simple black dress, approached the podium. I could see her lip begin to quiver and her eyes grew hot and red with tears. It took her a few minutes, but she pulled it together and was able to share a few memories and expressions of gratitude to her mom and those who loved and cared for her in her final years. Her message was heartfelt and I could feel her pain. She stood almost right in front of me and when she looked down our eyes locked. A knowing look was shared between us. She was speaking as a daughter about her mother, and I? Well, I was her mother’s granddaughter, her daughter. And my heart hurt thinking of how painful it must be to lose a mother. I looked at my mom realizing how brief life is, and my heart began to break for her and for me too.
The following day as I reflected on the events of Saturday, October 29th, I began to wonder. To wonder if my mom had shared a similar experience with her mom twenty-one years earlier when my great-grandmother, Nanny, had died. I remember when my grandmother’s mother died. I was six years old. And now she was gone too. My own mother is fifty-eight, and while she is certainly not old, in twenty-one years she will be seventy-nine. Seventy-nine is old. And how old will I be? I’ll be forty-eight. And even though that sounds like lifetimes away from now, I know that one day I will remember my grandmother’s funeral and think. Wow, that really wasn’t that long ago, was it?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Honoring Grandma Overly. June 30, 1924-October 20, 2011

What an amazing life. My grandmother, Louise Overly, was born in the roaring 20s, grew up during the Great Depression. She lived through World War II, married and had two beautiful girls, my mom, Jan and her sister, Carol. She was married to my grandfather for 46 years, until his death in 1995 when I was twelve.

A family shot with Grandma (purple jacket) about 4 years ago. One of the last times she was healthy enough to travel and do something with the family.

In 1983, she became a grandmother to my cousin, Amber. Less than a year later, I was born, then in 1985, my cousin Katie came along. Finally, in 1990, a boy, Jefferson, was added to our family tree. Just a few months later in 1991, the last of the grandchildren, my sister, Bree, was born. And thus by 1991 she was the proud grandma of four girls and a single boy, the apple of his grandfather's eye. Twenty-six years after her first grandchild was born, she became a great-grandmother to her only great-grandchild, Aya. I wish she could have met my kids, but I know she'll be looking down on them from heaven.

In the time I got to spend with my grandma, which wasn't nearly as much time as I would have liked since she lived far away, she taught me to play Poker (and how to keep my poker face), and we played countless rounds of Old Maid. She always made her Shrimp Louis salad, just the way my sister liked it, and loved her munchies! She would tease my dad about eating too many snacks but then readily admit that she was a muncher herself.

In 2003, she took Katie and me to the Caribbean on a cruise to celebrate our graduation from high school. She was 79 years old at the time and was still spry and spunky! She and my grandpa, Papa Bob, traveled the world together, visiting Russia, Europe, South America, Africa, and all over North America. It was only when she turned 80 that she decided that she would stop traveling abroad, since her health had begun to decline.

She gave each of her grandkids a college fund to help us pay for college--what an enormous gift of generosity to receive from a grandparent. It has made all of our lives easier, especially in these trying economic times.

The past few years have been hard, but the last few months have been very hard, especially for my mom and her sister. Losing a grandmother is difficult, but I can't imagine losing a mom, and hope I don't have to for many years.

Last night I imagined my grandma being welcomed into God's kingdom by my grandfather, and I hope he was holding her hand from the moment she passed. This morning I got the call at school. She left this world around 10:30am. I'm still not sure I quite understand it myself. Death is a mysterious strange, thing. I know we shall be together again one day, but probably not for a very long time.

Grandma "Weese" (we couldn't pronounce Louise so we called her Grandma "Weese"), was my last living grandparent. The last time I lost a grandmother I was 3. Both my grandfathers died when I was in middle school. It's different losing someone as an adult. This is the first death in my family since I was 12. And it feels different. Somehow it's more sobering. More real. I don't have any more grandparents on this earth. It is a strange feeling, but I know it's a part of life that we all must endure. Right now I think of my family and how much I love them all, but especially I think of Grandma Weese.

Grandma, I love you. Thank you for everything you ever did for me. Thank you for giving me the greatest gift I could ever ask for. My mom.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

My goals

I don't think I've written any goals in a while, partially because I know what I want in my head. But as I tell my students (I'm such a hypocrite), when you write your goals down, they become much more tangible. So what are my goals? I guess I need to figure out which ones are short term and which are long term because that does effect the way I will approach them. I think the problem is that I dwell on the long term goals which I have little control over at this point, but I still want to write them down. So here they are:

Long Term Goals:

1. Find a way to get rid of our condo. Possibilities?
a. Market goes up and we sell it (unlikely)
b. Re-fi and rent it till we can sell it.
c. Rent it and take a big hit every month till we can sell it.

2. Find a new place to live where Ben can get a good job after graduating from his Bio program.
a. NorCal? Yosemite area? It would be so cool if he could work for the National Park.
b. Colorado?
c. Oregon?

3. Save enough money so I can stay home with kids while they're little (before they go to school). I hate the idea of putting my kids in daycare and would love to be a stay at home mom till they start full-time school (around 1st grade). I don't think I'd want to be a full time stay at home mom forever but that would be such a special time with my little ones, I wouldn't want to miss it.

4. Write a book. Yes, this one is just for me. I've always wanted to be a writer. I just need to find my story.

5. Buy a house with a yard in a beautiful neighborhood (beautiful, not necessarily well-to-do).

Short Term Goals:

1. Find fun things to do that don't cost a lot of money while Ben's in school. I'm getting a little stir crazy sitting around the house all the time.

2. Find ways to enjoy the holidays. Ben's not big into the holidays the way I am, so I need to find a way to still make it fun for me because I love everything about them--the food, the smells, the decorations, the family get togethers.

3. Hobby. I probably need to find a hobby. I'd love to write but I'm facing serious writer's block...not sure what I want to write about. Hopefully some Muse will help inspire me soon.

4. Cheaper travel. I can't wait till my birthday because Ben promised me we'd go to Cambria this year. I love that that place. It's like medicine to me...soothes my soul and helps rejuvinate me. Especially if I'm going to teach summer school next year.

5. Organize/decorate our house. I'm tired of looking at piles of junk all the time. It'd be nice if our house looked better. Maybe I wouldn't mind living here so much then...not sure how to do it though since we have way too much stuff for our tiny place.

So what are your goals? I think mine are incredibly mundane. I should probably get some more exciting ones. I guess I'm just frustrated because at 22 when I bought my condo I thought I was doing something to help ensure an easier future for me and my future family. Instead, I've caused a living nightmare. I'll never see the tens of thousands of dollars I put into this place and hopefully I won't end up having to pay money to the bank to have someone take it off our shoulders. It makes me sad that the hard work I put into this has been for nothing. I know I need to get over it, but it just depresses me. I feel like I'm being punished for something I didn't do...but I suppose that's just being whine-y, and I need to get over it. One day it'll all work out. I just hope it's sooner than later.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Health Update

I went to the doctors on Thursday afternoon and took a blood test. Came back yesterday and both liver tests were abnormal. I knew something was wrong with me. The doctor called and said it's most likely a virus. I've never had a virus with symptoms like these. No sore throat, runny nose, or cold like symptoms. Just extreme fatigue, headaches, and general achey-ness.

It's keeping me from getting work done or anything else for that matter. I'm so ready to get out of LA. I'm not sure why I feel this way at this moment, but I really want to live in a beautiful place with our own house and yard. A place where we can take walks and hikes. I feel claustrophobic in this place. I'm ready for change.

Still a few years to go but I guess I'll keep that dream in my mind for now...too keep me going and hopefully help me feel better!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Feeling icky...

I can't put my finger on it...for the past few days I've been unbelievably tired, especially after I get home from work and when I just wake up in the morning. I get headaches at night and in the morning and loss of appetite in the morning due to some naseau.

No, I'm not preggo. I even double checked by taking a test yesterday just to make sure.

So what is it then? On Sunday, I got insanely light headed and sweaty during mass and had to eat immediately after leaving church. I felt like I was going to pass out.

None of my symptoms are horrid but the combination of them is kicking my butt. Teaching all day, cooking, and grading papers at night...I haven't even gone to the gym this week because my body feels like it needs to shut down. I guess I'll go to the doctor if it keeps up for a few more days, but I went once before for similar symptoms and they had no answers for me. They just said to eat regularly which I'm doing.

Have any of you had similar symptoms? If so, what did it turn out to be? I don't think I have the flu because I haven't actually thrown up or anything. Even know I feel a bit light headed and VERY tired, and it's only 7:00pm!

Okay, well...I'd appreciate any advice or ideas...thanks!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

My readers

I'm not exactly sure who reads my blog on a regular basis and I realize I haven't posted much lately. This is partially because I am back to work, grading tons of papers, and attending to the chores of daily life. But I do enjoy blogging and even though there is no paper and pen which I've always sworn I prefer, it is fun to see pictures and easily click to my favorite blogs.

I personally, only read one blog religiously and that is dandelionpaperweight. This blog is written by Amy, who was a fellow English major at CSUN and now fellow English teacher. Even though we only really talk digitally, her blog makes me feel like I am her friend because I sense that I know her through the words she writes and the pictures she posts. I love hearing about her journey to motherhood, especially since she battled with infertility for nearly 2 years before getting pregnant. Her blog has showed me that just sharing one's daily thoughts, interests, and dreams can be VERY interesting.

If you're interested in checking out her blog visit:

So who are my readers? I know she reads my blog too since she posts comments regularly on my posts. I also know my Aunt Alicia reads. She too has a blog and although she rarely posts I love reading the entries about family and memory. I assume my dad and sister read this occassionally but to be honest I'm not sure. My mom doesn't really use the internet so I doubt she reads this.

My mother-in-law, Laurie, and sister-in-law, Melissa, and brother-in-law, Scott, read it which is cool to me since we live so far away. I feel like this allows me to share with them some of my thoughts, dreams, and most importantly just a little about myself and what Ben and I are up to on a weekly basis. We only get to see them a couple times a year so it's nice to know what everyone is up to on a more regular basis.

This weekend, for instance, we are finally getting some free time to have some fun. Last night we went for Indian food and then saw the movie, Moneyball. It was a pretty good movie and an interesting story, especially since it was true. I'd recommend it. Even though movies are way overpriced, there is something nice about going out and having a date night that sometimes you don't experience while sitting on the couch. May be it's just the fact that I get ready, dress nicely, and put on makeup? May be it's the anticipation that comes all day at work on a Friday knowing that you'll get to have some time for just you and your husband. Whatever it is, it's just nice to go out on a date now and then. Tonight we will be going on a double date with my friend Shannon and her boyfriend, Nick. We're going miniature golfing! :)

Okay, so back to the topic. My readers. I also see that Roxy, a friend, Jessie, Ben's cousin, and Travis, an old friend have subscribed. I'm not sure if they read often but I hope they also enjoy the posts. I know I never say anything too profound or even write about anything that exciting but sometimes it's more fun to relate to normal, every day life, because that's what most of us experience on a daily basis.

Oh and I forgot my biggest fan. Ben. Little did I know until about a month ago that he reads all my posts. It was pretty fun when he was out of town to get a comment on one of my posts I had written about him. Here's a fun pic of my husband when he was a kid!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ben's video

Over the weekend, I helped Ben with a project for his Communications class. I play the grandma in the last act.