A woman with a difficult childhood noticed a man with a turquoise shirt and handsome riding boots. My grandma would say the thing that first stood out about my grandpa was his style. They soon got married, and after many years of being apart while my grandpa was in the Air Force, finally settled down to start a family. Many years and many adventures later I came along, their youngest grandchild.
How do you put a period at an end of a life, when all the memories stop being made? How do you adequately express what someone means to you when the impact they had could fill a book? I don’t know the answer, but I do know that this book is a love story; and while I don’t know all the details, I know it starts with two people who found a home in one another and created a home for so many of us that I now call family.
As the baby of the family I spent many days with Mimi and Papa while my family traveled. While I didn’t get to go to Florida, I did get to take baths with extra bubbles, to eat chocolate fudge popsicles while watching soap operas, and I learned how to shuffle cards from the true masters of bridge. Those days spent with my grandparents were truly sweet. I remember the smell of the bubble bath and the freshly washed towels. I remember playing with my barbies on their fancy bar cart and making them slide down the large brass pelican in the living room. At night after my bath Mimi would get in bed with me to read books. As you all probably know, Jeanne was an ornery one. She would switch up the words in my book until she was speaking nonsense, to which I would exclaim “Mimi stop!” Then she would read normally until I got comfortable and would switch up the words again, just to watch me get frustrated. She loved to laugh and had the sweetest laugh. I will miss her laugh.
My grandpa made a point to tell us nearly every time he saw us that he was proud of us, and that he loved us. After he passed, my grandma started doing the same thing. She’d put her hands on my face and tell me how much she’d missed me. She’d say she was proud of me and that she loved me. I am so thankful I never doubted my grandparent’s love for me. I’m thankful they were open and giving with their words of love.
Papa never got to meet my children, which saddens me, but Mimi did, and she loved them. But the thing about Mimi is that she always noticed me first. She always wanted to know how I was before checking on my children. Mimi could pick up on the unspoken emotions in people, and with such kindness, ask about it. At one point in time I was struggling in my marriage, and Mimi knew. She didn’t ask me for details, but she told me she was sorry, and that she could tell I was hurting. She was intuitive and sharp; witty and kind. She remembered all the small details of my life and was truly interested to hear more.
There’s so much I want to tell you about her, and I know you all have your own stories of her. My sisters and cousins have their own stories, and my mom and my aunt and Jeanne’s friends. We all have our own version of her, but I think we can safely say that we all loved her, and we never doubted that she adored us. What a gift to carry around that love in our hearts, and what a gift to witness two people love each other for seventy-one years. I’ve never believed in soul mates, but Mimi and Papa are the closest thing I’ve ever seen. And now they’re reunited, after seven long years of being apart. Mimi is at peace, no longer longing for her husband.
Mimi, I will miss you desperately. Your daughters and sons in law will miss you, and your grandchildren and great grandchildren. Your friends and family will think of you often, and remember the beautiful, joyful, fun-loving and wonderful person you were.