Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In Loving Memory-"Mom", "Grandma", Edith Gerta Grandfield, June 7, 1926- August 20, 2010

Over a month ago Terry's dear Mom passed away at the age of 84. Just a few weeks before she surprised us by calling to say she would be coming to visit us at the end of September. Her plane ticket was booked and we were looking forward to it. Shortly thereafter we received a call from Terry's brother Malcolm, whom she lived with, that she was looking jaundice. He took her to the emergency room and a day later we learned she had a mass on her pancreas. After a biopsy, which confirmed it was cancer, and then two attempts to put in stints to open up the blocked duct to her pancreas, she began to go downhill very quickly. Friday morning, August 20th, Terry, Rebekah, Lisa-Noel, Lily and I were on our way to North Carolina when we received the call from Malcolm that she had died early Friday morning.
So much changed so quickly. From travel plans to a diagnosis of cancer; life and then....death. We spent the weekend in North Carolina with Malcolm, Chris, and their daughters Christa and Ashleigh remembering Mom, both with tears and laughter. I am glad we had that short time together as a family to reminisce.
I met Mom way back in August 1981. I had flown from San Diego where I was stationed with the US Navy to meet Terry in Cocoa, Florida to meet his family. Terry was still stationed in Puerto Rico and had flown in also. It was during that visit Terry proposed to me and we made plans to spend our life together. Mom had her noticeable german accent and Dad his english one. Both had met at the end of World War II when Dad was part of the occupational forces in Germany. I have never forgotten the story Mom told about Dad offering her a bar of chocolate, which immediately endeared him to her, considering food had been so scarce in the latter months of the war. That simple bar of chocolate led to a marriage that lasted over 50 years. Incredible, isn't it? Two people from two countries who were enemies in a huge war would meet and fall in love, and that love would first take Mom to live in England (where she picked up the english language, in spite of an english teacher telling her when in grade school she would never learn it!), then across the Atlantic to the US, where she and Dad made their home in Cocoa, Florida from 1966- 2006.
Dad passed away suddenly on December 22, 2007. When I think of Mom I always think of Dad. I have many fond memories of our visits to their home. All my kids learned to swim in their pool. I can still see Dale in his little speedo with water wings, 3 years old, paddling around their pool. Except for Dale, our 5 other children were all born in Florida, where we lived 45 minutes north of Mom and Dad for 12 years. Most of our holidays were spent with them. Dad's specialty when he cooked for us was roast beef with yorkshire pudding- a traditional english meal. Mom introduced me to a few german specialties- sauerbraten and rouladen (Terry was none too keen on the rouladen- having been forced to eat it in his childhood!) and this potato salad with lots and lots of vinegar. From the start, they loved me and accepted me- and were in every sense of the word, my family. I am thankful.
Mom and Dad last visited in December 2006. They spent New Year's Eve with us and we had so much fun. Mom last visited on her own in July 2009. The photo of her on the scooter with Rebekah and Lisa-Noel was taken at Longwood Gardens during that visit.
Surviving Mom and Dad, their most lasting legacies, are their children and their families. Stan, his wife Barbara, and their son Justin who reside in England; Rick and his wife Pat, who reside in Florida, and their son Mark who resides in England; Malcolm, his wife Chris, and their daughters Christa and Ashleigh who reside in North Carolina; and Terence, his wife Danese(me!) and our children Dale, Amber, Josiah, Chad, Rebekah, and Lisa-Noel, all residing in Pennsylvania.
Mom faced many challenges in her life. I remember many years ago in Florida a conversation we had in the kitchen of my home during a visit.
"Denny, I really envy your strong faith. I wish I had it but I don't."
"Mom, God loves you no matter what size your faith is."
"But how do you pray? I want to sometimes but I don't know how to."
"Mom, just talk to God like you are talking to me- just be yourself. Tell him what's on your heart. Ask him to help you when you need help. He will listen."
After that conversation she began talking to God each night when she laid down to go to sleep. I believe she did that every night from that day until she was unable. She would tell me about those prayers over the years and bring up that conversation. I believe her praying was more consistent than mine at times, and I attribute those prayers to a peace she had in her voice when we talked about the cancer. When I told her no matter what she would be okay- she said she knew. Prayer may not be answered the way we want but it does provide a sense of peace, even when walking through the valley of the shadow of death. I thank God for being there with Mom throughout her life.
I love to picture Mom in a special heaven God has prepared just for her, Dad, and their beloved dogs. I bet Mom has all the best chocolate bars ( Ritter and Cadbury, of course!!) and Dad is enjoying some fine cigars.
Rest in peace Mom. Give Dad my love and a big hug. Your life touched mine in so many wonderful ways. You will never be forgotten. I love you, always.


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