Tuesday, July 5, 2011

My grandmother 1925-2011

My grandmother passed away on June 29th.  She was my Dad's Mom and I was very close to her.  
My parents divorced when I was 2 but I spent lots of time with my Nanabanana.
My cousin Bo and I with Nan.

She was everything you think of when you think of a grandmother:  She knitted, baked, played bingo and gave lots of hugs. She also told lots of jokes, said what was on her mind and prayed faithfully.
Nan's beautiful hands.  

Nan loved her treats.  She always had candy laying around.  She made the best banana bread and peanut butter cookies, and gave us some at Christmas time along with gum drop bread.  Her freezer was always stocked with ice-cream.  I can not eat three flavored (aka Neapolitan) ice-cream without thinking of her.  And what made her extra cool was that she always had cones in her cupboard.

She loved gardening, plants and flowers.  I remember working with her in her garden up Cambridge Narrows.  And when she lived in apartments, she was surrounded in all kinds of plants and flowers.  
Nan and I surrounded in her potted flowers.

She was proud of her family.  She loved to talk about her parents, her siblings, her children, her grandchildren and the next generation even... her great-grandchildren.  She had tons of family photos in her livingroom.  When I think of her livingroom, I remember things wrapped in baggies to keep the dust off!  haha!  
Summer 2002 w/Dad & 2 of my sisters.

When I smell Imari from Avon or Baby's Own soap, it always and will forever remind me of Nan.  I own a bottle of Imari just so I can smell her when I want to.

She despised soap operas and couldn't stand them being on the TV even for a minute.  But she loved her wrestling.  She'd stay up til the wee hours of the morning just to watch a match!  

She gave so much of her time to the Legion.  She recruited her grandkids to go door to door to sell poppies for Remembrance Day.  She won awards like the Palm Leaf.  She was so proud of her achievements.  Those and working at the Provincial Hospital.  She worked there after she was widowed with 4 kids at age 32.  (She later remarried and was with Clifford for years before divorcing.  She had 3 step-children.  So there are many grandkids and great-grandkids in our family.)  

Nan loved singing and whistling.  She was involved in the choir til she couldn't physically walk up the stairs to the choir loft.  If fact, I remember her talking about how she had to go down the stairs backwards because her legs were so bad, but she did it.  Many of us grandkids sang in the choir at the Assumption in the 80s and she loves to recall those days.  If she wasn't singing, she was whistling.  I loved the sound of Nan's high pitched whistling that was no song in particular.  I think of her when a kettle whistles.  She used to joke that was the only thing that whistled at her anymore.
 Nan front and center in her choir robe.

The choir loft at the Assumption during her memorial service on July 1st.
The choir sang for her, including O Canada.

Nan knit til just months ago when arthritis took over and she couldn't hold her arms up anymore.  I admired her skill and she taught me when I was kid, not that I remember how to start or finish.  (I'm more of a paper girl.).  She entered her masterpieces in the Exhibition and has won.  We all knew she was good but I think winning gave her an extra boost of confidence.  

When we travelled to Saint John in Nov 2010, I didn't realize it would be the first and last time Colin got to meet his great-grandmother.  She declined quickly and her body failed her although she was sharp.

There will be a huge void in my life without this wonderful woman in it.  We talked on the phone regularly and the last time I spoke to her was June 17th.  It was a brief conversation because she was on pain meds at this point and she was difficult to understand.  The phone call before that was just a couple weeks prior and we reminisced about the old days and where she grew up.  I wish I took more time to hear those stories.  
Flag on our car as we drove to the gravesite.

We left for Saint John at 6pm on Tuesday, June 28 after getting the news that she was unresponsive, her kidneys had stopped working and her lungs were bad.  I knew it was the end but hoped to get home to say good-bye.  We stayed in Maine overnight to split the trip up.  My Dad called me in the early hours of the morning as we slept in the hotel to tell me she passed.  I was sleeping with Vienna who woke up and I told her that Nanabanana just died.  Vienna's response was quick:  "I hope she has a good time in heaven."  

That I'm sure of.  As I write this I think of the Proverbs 31 woman.  My grandmother was very much as close to this as anyone I have ever met.

Proverbs 31:10-31
 10 [b]A wife of noble character who can find? 
   She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
   and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
   all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
   and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
   bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
   she provides food for her family
   and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
   out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
   her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
   and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
   and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
   and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
   for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
   she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
   where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
   and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
   she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
   and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
   and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
   her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
   but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
   but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
   and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.


Obituary from the newspaper:
Vera Viola Melanson
(September 8, 1925 - June 29, 2011) 

Vera Viola Melanson
The death of Vera Viola Melanson, wife of the late James "Bob" Robert Melanson, occurred on June 29, 2011 at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Born in Kingsville (Milford), NB on September 8, 1925, she was the daughter of the late Angus Joseph Robichaud and Lolie May (Gallant) Robichaud.
She is survived by daughters Geralda "Gerry" (Frank) Stevens, Assunta "Bunny" Patterson; sons James "Jay" (Pamela) Melanson, Bernard (Debra) Melanson; stepson, Kenneth "Ken" (Cathy) White; brother, Vern (Dorene) Robinchaud; sister, Selina (Bob) Farrington. Vera will also be missed by 14 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren, as well as many nieces, nephews, extended family and friends.
Vera was also predeceased by 9 brothers and 1 sister.
Vera was a practical nurse, graduating from the Lincoln School of Nursing, and worked 18 years at the Provincial Hospital at Simms Corner before retiring in 1979. She was a Life Member of both the Ladies Auxiliary and Carleton #2 Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. She was awarded the Meritorious Service Award with Palm Leaf. Vera was a Girl Guide leader, taught catechism, and served the N.B.P.E.A. Inc in various capacities for 50 years. She enjoyed singing in the Assumption Parish Choir for 25 years, cooking for her family, gardening, watching wrestling, and playing bingo.
Resting at Castle “Fallsview” Funeral Home 309 Lancaster Ave. Saint John West (634-1701) with visiting on Thursday, June 30, 2011 from 2-4, and 7-9 p.m. with a Ladies Auxiliary service taking place at 7:30 p.m.
The Funeral Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Friday, July 1, 2011 at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of the Assumption. A reception will follow at the Fallsview Family Reception Centre, 293 Lancaster Ave. The interment will take place on Saturday July 2, 2011 at 9:00 a.m. at St. Joseph’s Cemetery.
The family would like to thank the doctors and staff on the 5th floor G.E.M. unit, St. Joseph’s Hospital for their kindness and dedication shown to Mom.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Vera's name may be made to the Heart and Stroke Foundation or the I.W.K.

1 comment:

Jessica @ This Blessed Life said...

You have so many sweet memories of her! She seemed so special (but I love that she loved wrestling! SO cute.) I think it's wonderful that you wrote your own little "memorial" to her in this way - and you can show your kids this post when they're older so they can see how much she meant to you. *hugs*