Saturday, November 23, 2013

True Love

As I sit down to actually write this post, I'm overwhelmed with emotion. To be quite honest, I can be a bit emotional (ask ANYone), but when it comes to my family, I believe the emotion is extremely well deserved. And...I'm not ashamed of it.

It is always important to be thankful for the many blessings that life brings you. In the month of November, we are on "high alert" of thankfulness because we celebrate Thanksgiving. As with every day... I am thankful for the life I have been given. Most importantly, I am thankful for the one of a kind, truly beautiful family that God has made me a part of.

Side Note: In blogging world, you aren't supposed to put last names, locations, etc. so for this blog, I will refer to my amazing family as the "A Team." :)

Today is Nov. 23.
Nov. 23 is a special day for the A Team. 

 Nov. 23, 1946 began what I believe is the greatest love story.of.all.

My grandpa, Paul A was born June 24, 1921. Three years later, my grandma, Helen E was born on June 26, 1924.
Both, were born into large Catholic families. 
Paul had 7 brothers & sisters, Helen had 6 brothers & sisters.

This was the beginning of...

True Love.

Not long after Paul and Helen fell in in love, Paul was sent to fight in WWII. 
He asked Helen to wait for him. 
While he was away, they wrote love letters back and forth... 
She could not wait for them to start their lives together!

True Love.

I absolutely love that she signed it "All my Love & Kisses, Yours Alone"

As she promised, Helen waited for Paul. 
When he returned, they were were married at St. John's Catholic Church on Nov. 23, 1946. 
One of my favorite stories about this day is that while celebrating at the reception, some of Paul & Helen's BFF's snuck out of the reception, pulled some pranks & trashed their house without them knowing (for example: they sewed their underwear together). 
These friends remained close their entire lives. 

True Love.

Once they were married the baby boom began. First came...

**Ronnie (Cindy)**
*Rosie (Allen)*
Johnny (Janis) 
Kathy (Jim)
Michael (Denice)
David (Jan)
Chuck (Sarah)
& Donna (Vic)
"The A Team" Part 1

*My Parents*
**My Godparents**

Rosie D taught me how to pray for my aunts and uncles by saying their names really fast!
 I am still super good at it!

True Love.

Paul & Helen were extremely hard workers. Paul was a farmer and worked for a paneling business. Helen was a stay at home mother (how could she work with all those kiddos??)

They were not monetarily rich, but WOW, were they rich in love.

The kids helped around the house and the farm.
They picked pickles and cucumbers and tomatoes...

In their home, all 3 girls slept in one room and all 6 boys in the other. There was ONLY 1 bathroom.
There was ONLY 1 rotary phone (You had to ask for the operator back then)!
And somehow they *almost always* got along.

True Love.  

(Oh the memories, running around, walking barefoot and driving up that gravel road)
   Some Interesting Family dynamics...

Helen NEVER drove.

You read that right. Never. Paul took her anywhere and everywhere she needed to go.

Uncle Steve, was mentally handicapped. 
He lived at home with Paul and Helen until they could not physically take care of him any more. 
Paul was 83, Helen was 80. 
Even then, though he was at a special home, Paul & Helen picked him up 1-3 times a week and spent the day with him at home. 

True Love. 

As their children grew, so did their family.
They were blessed with 19 grandchildren (my amazing cousins!)
& 15 great grandchildren (+1 that's now on the way!)
My cousins were my first best friends!!! Some of them are STILL my best friends.

True Love.

"The A Team" (missing some) Part 2
(Ugh, I was late and did not make it into this photo)
(Cousin Macky Mack & me!)
 Above & Below...4 generations of A Team "Men!" These pics (& men) are pretty special!!!

I will talk about my favorite A Team childhood memories for the rest of my life...

The ones below are just a FEW of them...

 Grandpa, his green thumb, & his strong hands...

The Porch...
the place for cousin portraits... especially on Easter!
but specifically I remember playing the "car" game with Grandma!
Pick a color, count how many times that car goes by the house.
At the end, if your colored car passed the most, you win! 
(it's a long game when you live in the "country")

Grandpa and his magnifying glass.
Everyone crammed into one room with the Christmas tree.
He'd pick up each package, one for each of us.
 He would read, "To: Jess, From: Grandma & Grandpa"every time he picked up a present.
We all patiently waited until everyone had their packages and then we opened them together.
It was the best. It's something I miss, but will remember every Christmas!

 Games for days!!!
Grandma and Grandpa loved to play games. 
We would sit down at their kitchen table and play, well, you name it...yahtzee, rummikub, chicken foot, euchre (a family tradition) etc.
Grandma taught so many of us, with great patience, how to play these games.
Grandpa was my (& everyone's) favorite euchre partner.
I'll always remember beating Big Al for the first time with Grandpa as my partner!

BUT you couldn't play games without snacks.
Grandpa would bring out the soft drinks from the utility room and snacks from the "forbidden" & "steep" stairs. 
Some favs... Chex Mix, Peanuts, Pringles, & Bugels, just to name a few :)

What great memories were shared around their kitchen table. 

I'll also never forget once when Gpa was in the ICU, waiting to get discharged to a regular room. 
My aunt Sarah, Uncle Chuck, gpa and I played euchre together in his room.
 I'm pretty sure that's the most rowdy the ICU has ever been. 

I could go on and on and on and on with the memories.......
 (I think I got that long story telling gene from my gpa!)

All these memories equate to...

True Love.

On April 7, 2011, uncle Steve passed away at 59 years of age.
He lived longer than doctors ever imagined, but that didn't make the goodbye any easier.
Steve taught our family so many things....
to love the radio, that everyone is different, that all people deserve to be loved, patience, to choose happiness...not anger (or to go outside if you wanted to fight), and that a smile can mean so much when it comes from the right person.
I'll never forget that smile of his.

One short month later, on May 6, 2011, beautiful Helen went to heaven to be with Steve. She was 86.
When he passed away, Grandma finally decided that her time, too was complete.
She stayed on earth to make sure that her son Steve was taken care.
It was too soon for all of us, we hadn't even gotten to say goodbye to Steve.
I will never forget the pain my Grandpa felt. It was heartbreaking.

I loved her sweet disposition and above all, how she loved her family.

Grandpa gave us a few scares shortly after they passed. Aunt Denice described it as if they were tugging on him to join them and we were holding onto him saying, "Please, not yet!"

This gorgeous rainbow at their home appeared after one of Grandpa's scares.
It was a reminder it all of us that Steve and Grandma were watching over us...

Just like when he was at war...Grandma waited for Grandpa.
We got a little bit more time with him, but of course, not enough.

Grandpa lived for the next two years at a retirement home where he could practice his faith, be visited daily by family, and watched over by others.
Oh how we showed our love for him the next two years.
We knew how much he was missing his beautiful Helen and his son Steve.
We threw him the most amazing 90th Birthday party... 
Our family compiled a book of 90 reasons we loved him...

   And I know he felt it.

True Love.

On May 7, 2013 Grandpa finally decided to join Grandma and Steve.
Of course, he held on for a few extra days because he wanted Grandma to have her own death day.
Two years and one day after Grandma died, they were reunited. 

(Grandpa's flag after his funeral)

Born 2 days apart, 3 years apart.
Died 2 years and 1 day apart.



True Love.

Not a day goes by that I don't think of my grandparents.
The love and example they were for each other, for their kids, for their grandchildren, for their extended family, and for their friends.

This love is incomparable. 

True Love.

I know that they are together again, holding hands and watching their family from a distance.
I know that one day, I will see them again and know the unimaginable happiness they are experiencing in heaven. 

I just really miss them here on earth.

It is also because of these two that I am immensely obsessed with true love.

So much, that I take pictures (while driving) of random strangers exhibiting it...

I gush over that part of the movie "Up" that tells the love story of Carl & Ellie...gets me every time....

And am in awe of stories like Fred & Sweet Lorraine!!!

Today would have been 67 years of marriage for my Grandma and Grandpa!
I will forever celebrate this day, Nov. 23, knowing what great love came from the marriage of those two individuals. 
And of course, with all those grandkids, you know that one would have a birthday that falls on their special day...
Happy Birthday Cousin Kyle!!

Just as we saw them waving goodbye so many times...
I will always imagine them just like this...


1 comment:

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