Friday, December 21, 2007


I posted this on my blog about planning the Memorial service.

We have never done this before and I am really hoping it will not have to be done again anytime soon.

It is alot of work, but it gives a different look at some things we should have done before we die. It is nice to have a few things written down of what we would like!

It is nice because Grandma had gone to church up here for the past year and formed some relationships and really came back out of a cloistered life she had led for the past 4 years before that! I had fun hearing some memories of my grandma from before that I had never heard before.

My mom was the youngest of 5 children, she married young and moved away from her family for awhile. We saw grandma when she came to visit or we visited, but it was not too often as we traveled alot. That is why it was so special to be able to get a good relationship with her these past few years. When she got really sick about 2.5 years ago, I went down to CA with T. and helped take care her. We flew back to CO with her and got her settled at home again. It was funny because one of the Hospice nurses down in CO, kept telling me she knew me. She was certain we had met! Finally she realized that it was because we had met 2.5 years before as she came to Grandma's house, not as a nurse, but as a Medicaid worker. She remembered me as the young girl with all the children!

Grandma was a very strong person, she would get down alot, but she was very concerned about other people. Sometimes some people look at that as a bad thing, but I think it is a blessing in this world where so many people are only concerned about themselves.

My grandma became a Christian as an adult, being raised Catholic. I have just heard the story from relatives, but I heard that some neighbor ladies decided to come and help her with housecleaning and became friends. They would witness to her while cleaning and invited her to a Billy Graham Crusade, if I remember right. It makes me think of how something as simple as housecleaning spoke to that busy mom of 5 children and made her stop and listen.

She actually had 6 children, but one little boy was stillborn. His name was Jack, and I heard he was missing an arm. I like to know that now she was able to see her little boy and my grandpa in heaven with Jesus.

It is hard for me to not have the honor of taking care of her anymore, it was something special that we were able to help make her life a little happier this last year, so she could be more independent like she wanted to me.

I will never be able to go to eat somewhere probably without hearing her say "Eat something more than salad, for me." or "Promise me you will eat, sweetheart."

Another good memory is grandma, having trouble walking or standing and standing up to give someone else her chair or trying to clean the table!!! I have a feeling that will be me when I am older though! We loved to tease her that we would put on her grave "She gave up her chair!"

Friday, December 14, 2007

Our Mary

But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, [and looked] into the sepulchre,
And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord,
and I know not where they have laid him.

And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener,
saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.
Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master

When I think of Mary I am reminded of these scriptures that I have always thought parallels “our Mary”. In all our lives we all at some point can relate to the story ….to have so much hope … to believe in something so strongly and depend on someone so totally. Only to have your hopes dashed by some non-linear event, that really, you never even thought of. Not only did Jesus not setup His kingdom on earth but He was crucified and killed and hung from a tree. All her hopes were gone. Mary lost her Jesus and even the Angels couldn’t comfort her, she needed to find Jesus, himself. She was lost and distraught and didn’t even recognize her Savior standing right in front of her. I know I have been in the same spot a few times in the past, not knowing that glory, hope and Heaven await us on the other side.

Mary always made you feel like you were her favorite friend and honestly I think we all were her best friends. She stayed young in spite of what challenges were thrown her way. You and I know the non-linear events she had to deal with. In her life she hung onto her Jesus and wouldn’t let Him go and right now she is doing that quite literally. She was a joy to be with and we will always cherish her friendship.
I remember the time we all spent up at Mammoth and the fun we had, and without going into details, who can forget the Keith swimming trunks incident (She was mortified … we were hysterical).
We remember the fellowship we enjoyed at her home and also making sure we grabbed a seat by her at church. Spending time with her was a pleasure because we really enjoyed her company. She was incredibly funny and her laughter filled the room.

I am glad I got to spend some time with her this past March and pray with her. She was still close to Jesus, hanging on. Thanks Mary for showing me how to hang on and not let go.

I won’t say Goodbye, just

see ya later


I was telling Moriah that many of the things that would remind of Grandma are the things we use often. . My beautiful china cupboard with all the special things in it.
She gave me her scale, and since her eye sight was so bad, her scale talks.
So I took the scale to the birth center. Mama's with their big pregnant bellies can step on the scale and don't have to look down to see their weight. The only thing is the whole room can hear how much these mama's weight! We always have a good laugh over it.
She left us many, many precious things. I hope I have many things to pass on to my children too.

Well, it's not a very good scan, but here is a picture of grandma when she was 16.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Memories of Mary from Janice Birnbaum

My very first memory of Mary was in my early twenties (just a few years ago) playing softball with Athletes in Fellowship. Mary was June, Terry, John and Ann's biggest fan! It seemed she was always at their games, cheering them on. I knew her as "June's mom." (It was kind of cool to find out that June, Pam and I had gone to the same Jr. High school at the same time, but we didn't know each other.)

In 1983 I joined "Worship Community" at Calvary Costa Mesa, and Mary joined at the same time. We started going to the same home fellowship at Rita and Freeman Taylor's, and that just started a wonderful friendship.

The thing about Mary was, she was so easy to pick on! She was such a good sport, but often left herself open for relentless teasing. There were many of us who would oblige her in that area (Freeman Taylor, especially). Here are a few incidences that make me laugh just thinking about them:

She told us the story about being raised by Italian-speaking parents, and teaching Jeannie to say "lever mind" instead of "never mind." We used "lever mind" around her from then on! Another story she told us that cracks me up is when she had carpal tunnel syndrome, and her doctor offered to operate on both wrists for the price of one. She told us how hard it was for her to cope with both wrists in casts, and she had to wear a mu-mu because it was so difficult to use the bathroom. She had to hike up her dress with her casts and drip dry... Well, anyway...

We were all at Mimi's Cafe following some singing event, and it came time for her to order. She said "I'd like the chicken gumbol, please." Of course we all started giggling, and she wanted to know what was wrong. We said, "its gumbo, Mary - not gumbol." She went on for the next five minutes saying, "I said gumbol, not gumbol." I guess she couldn't hear the difference, but we made a big scene laughing so hard.

I was never a big fan of women's retreats, but Georgie Augustine and Mary convinced me to go on one. We were all roommates, along with Megan Worth. We stayed up almost all night just laughing. It was one of those times where absolutely everything was funny. So we finally got settled down, and Georgie got up off the rollaway bed to go to the bathroom. When she got back and sat down on the bed, the whole thing folded up on her and she was stuck. Well, you can imagine how that set us all off again, and Mary was laughing so hard she started making strange noises (if you know what I mean). We got in trouble the next day from Kay Smith for being so disruptive and not being good examples.

And then there were the trips to Mammoth. She swore to us that she made the best pizza. Well, for some reason she had to cook it on the bbq (I don't remember why) and didn't take into account the altitude. It was disastrous! Freeman Taylor bought a new video camera, and was taping everything the week we were there. When we got back home and watched the tape, every time Mary was in the picture, she was adjusting her shorts in the back. It was hilarious! Keith Wroblewski, Mary and I were in the pool together on one trip, and Keith had pretended to dump a glass of ice water on her head. She got out of the pool, got her glass, and was going to pretend to pour it down Keith's swim trunks. The only problem was, Keith's fly was fastened with velcro, so when she pulled on it, the whole thing came open. Without a hitch, Keith looked at her (while she was horrified) and said, "Mary, all you had to do was ask!" Mary was rolling around on the cement in her bathing suit, laughing so hard. We couldn't breath...

At one point we had a Pinochle club, and made the mistake several times of putting Mary and John Loperfido together as partners. Wow - two peas in a pod! "Who's turn is it? Who played what? What is trump? Who's turn is it again? Who's my partner? Oh, its my turn???" :-)

Mary, the Altieris, John Loperfido, Cec and I went to Jeannie's timeshare in Rosarito Beach one time before Cec and I were married, and we thought in our wisdom, that we'd change our money into pesos when we got down there. Yeah, we were idiots! Every time we'd eat in a restaurant, it would take us twice as long to figure out what we owed than it did to eat. Mary and I roomed together on that trip.

I remember when she moved into her new home in Portola Hills. She heard a strange noise, and looked outside only to find cows grazing in her yard. Well, what did she do about it? She called 911! Told the operator, "I have cows in my yard." The funniest part is when the operator asked her to describe them! When she moved to Leisure World, I remember her being so embarrassed, because "old people live there." She was always so young at heart, it didn't occur to her that they were in the same age group.

Throughout our time in Worship Community, any opportunity Mary had, she would be dancing, always keeping an eye out for Pastor Chuck. She was our dancing queen!

As a nail biter, I was always jealous of Mary's beautiful nails. They were always perfect, and try as she might, she just couldn't get me to stop my nasty habit.

That's about all the things I can think of off the top of my head, but all-in-all, I considered Mary not only to be a close friend, but a substitute Mom. I had such a bad relationship with my mother, I know God brought Mary in my life to fill that void. I could tell her anything! She had such wisdom and common sense, and I really appreciated that. Her walk with the Lord was inspiring. Even through all the health issues she had throughout the years, her relationship with Jesus was always solid. What a great witness! I feel really bad about not keeping in touch with her the last few years, but am confident in the knowledge that I'll see her again someday, where she'll be sick no more. I've been thinking about her all week being in heaven with her Lord, and Tony. Makes me cry happy tears.

Janice Birnbaum

Blog for Grandma

This is a blog my Mom asked me to set up for Grandma. We can share pictures and memories we have on here and then we can all see it. Let me know if you want me to add more addresses so other people can post. Or I can add you as an administrator and you can add email addresses yourself. I've never done a blog with more than one author before so we'll see how it goes.