Sunday, May 2, 2010

Geraldine Rose Sabel

Yesterday, we held a celebration of life for my paternal grandmother who passed away last December at the age of 83. She was the mother of seven, a grandmother of fourteen, and a great-grandmother to eight. Grami and I shared the same middle name, Rose, which was her mother's name. (And in my heart of hearts, I'd love to have a daughter someday to whom I could pass on the name.) I was honored to be able to share a few of my favorite memories during the service. Here are my remarks.

Today, we celebrate the life of Geraldine Rose Sabel.

She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a sister, a friend.

As I was preparing for this celebration of life, I thought a lot about Grami and the times we spent together.

I’d like to share three of my fondest “Grami” memories with you now.

From 1996-1998, while I was attending UC Davis, I’d often come home on weekends to visit with my mom, dad and sisters. I’d also pop over to say hi to Grami and Grandpa. I’d pull up in the driveway, greet Grandpa in the garage, and then head into the house to see Grami. Grami was usually sitting on her loveseat playing Solitaire on the coffee table or watching television. I’d chat with Grami for a few minutes and then Grandpa would wander in from the garage and sit down on the yellow stool by the phone. I’d sit on the couch nearby and the three of us would talk about life.

I always looked forward to going to see Grami and Grandpa because they seemed so interested in how I was doing. They listened attentively as I chatted on and on about my classes at school and my extracurricular activities. They’d ask questions and encourage me to continue to work hard.

Almost without fail, at some point in the conversation, Grandpa—being the true conservative he is—would make a comment about the “liberals” at UC Davis. Grandpa would then chuckle, I’d grin. Grami would laugh, too—that joyful high-pitched laugh we all loved—and say, “Oh, Eddie!”

Grami loved to laugh. And make other people laugh. I still remember a joke Grami played on me and my sister, Nichole, the day Katie was born. At the time, we lived up outside Seattle and Grami was staying with us while Mom and Dad were at the hospital. I was nine years old, Nichole was six, and being that it was mid-June, we were enjoying a beautiful summer day playing out in the court with our neighbors. We knew Mom was having a baby (and we were super excited), but we didn’t know whether it would be a boy or a girl.

At about two o’clock on June 17th, Grami came out on the front porch and yelled for us to come up to the house. We ran up the front steps and Grami revealed that we had a new baby BROTHER! Nichole and I were elated! We jumped up and down, hugging each other and Grami. Unbeknownst to us, Grami was playing a bit of a practical joke! Nichole and I went back to playing with our friends and about fifteen minutes later, Grami called us back up to the house to tell us it wasn’t a boy, but a GIRL!

Grami not only possessed kindness and a great sense of humor, but she also had luck on her side. As I’m sure you know, Grami loved to gamble! She and Grandpa often went to Reno to play the slots. Grami would usually start with quarter machines and if she was winning, then she would move on to dollars. One time, she hit a $15,000 jackpot in Reno and was able to pay cash for a red Pontiac Grand Prix. Another time, she hit a $5000 jackpot at Thunder Valley. Bingo was another one of Grami’s favorite games. She and Dora played for years. And when Grami went to live in the nursing home, she still played Bingo every week.

Grami was a lucky lady in many ways, but we were lucky, too. Lucky to have known her, to have loved her and been loved by her.

She left footprints on my heart, and I think about her often. In fact, just the other day, I was standing in line at the grocery store reading a headline on a tabloid, and I smiled thinking about how much Grami loved to read tabloid magazines.

We will continue to miss Grami, but when we think of her and remember the happy times we shared with her, she will continue to live on in our hearts.

Recently, I came across a quote by Nancy Cobb, which I think captures the importance of remembering.

She said, “Remembering is an act of resurrection, each repetition a vital layer of mourning, in memory of those we are sure to meet again.”

May she rest in peace.

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