I had a very difficult time starting tonight's blog. There are two events I want to talk about but I'm not sure which I should share first. Please bear with me as I gather my thoughts. I want to write this with the utmost love, caring and respect.
Tonight I feel very sad for my husband, my sons and my husband's extended family. John's Grandma Genevieve Noie Walsh passed away earlier this afternoon. She was 95 years old and will be deeply missed by a large family of children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.
Although I did not know John's Grandma well, I know that he loved her dearly and that his Mom had moved from Alaska back to Wisconsin a number of years ago to make sure that she was well taken care of. Grandma Genevieve had many health struggles over the past few years and in the last year and a half especially. In my heart I believe she is now in heaven, reunited with her husband, her oldest son, siblings, parents, family and friends. I have faith that her sickness and pain is now gone and that she's either swimming laps, taking a major travel trip or watching down upon on a vast and adoring family.
Diminutive in stature but not in spirit, I remember traveling on a cruise to Mexico with John, John's Grandma Genevieve, John's Great Aunt Lynn, Jan (John's Mom), Justin, Justin's cousin Kiersten and John's Uncle Jim and Aunt Carol when Justin was about 3 which would put Grandma Genevieve in her late 80s! Grandma Genevieve loved to travel and I hope that when I'm in my 80s (heck, even my 70s), that I have the spunk, stamina and spirit like she did to enjoy traveling the world.
Truth be known, I believe she did some traveling tonight. Our son Justin had his first big Court of Honor in Boy Scouts and I'm sure Grandma Genevieve was there. John, Justin and I went out to Camp Currie and were lucky enough to find a neighborhood baby sitter for a couple hours for Ryan. (We didn't want another "middle school orientation evening" experience in front of about 75 scouts and their families.)
John and Justin - Scouting Buddies
Justin received recognition for earning his Tenderfoot Rank and he also received badges for Orienteering, Archaeology, Soil and Water Conservation and Oceanography. I am so proud of my boy! When he went to Boy Scout Camp, he picked some of the toughest badges out there to get and was the only one in his whole pack who earned the Orienteering Badge. He overcame a lot of obstacles this summer in a short period of time to do what he did, especially considering he is the youngest and smallest member of his Pack!
He also earned BSA 2010 special 100th Anniversary ribbons for Service, Achievement and Outdoors. John recently stepped up to be an Assistant Scoutmaster so both guys were in their uniforms and we got front row seating near the campfire which didn't work out too badly for warding off mosquitoes. (Only 3 bites! Bet they were disappointed!)
While we were sitting outside for the 2 1/2 hour presentation, I was thinking that John's Grandma would have been very proud of him and of Justin for all they have accomplished together. John has stepped up to the plate to be either an Assistant Den Leader, Cub Scout Den Leader or Assistant Scoutmaster every year that Justin has been involved in scouting. With John's encouragement and leadership, not only did Justin make his first friendships with peers, he has accomplished and experienced outings and opportunities for service that have helped him grow into the fine young 6th grader who will be starting middle school this week!
I have a feeling that John's Grandma Genevieve and his Grandpa (passed in 1987) were at the Court of Honor this evening, helping to celebrate their grandson's and great-grandson's accomplishments. Just as we honor Justin for moving onto Tenderfoot, we celebrate the life of John's Grandma & Justin and Ryan's Great Grandma Genevieve who has moved onto a new rank of her own, Special Angel In Heaven.
I'm pretty sure if there were merit badges and rank advancements for being loved and appreciated as a Mother, Sibling, Grandmother, Great-Grandmother, Great-Great Grandmother and all the other relationship labels she took on, Genevieve Walsh would have earned them all!
So here tonight, we celebrate her life and I will try to do everything I can in the coming days to help my husband and sons through the cycles of grief. I will blog about this separately.
My blogs for the next few days will likely include more thoughts upon the grieving process. Right now I'm trying to process it all myself and figure out how to be the best Mom and wife I can be. I see John crying and want to take the tears away. I hear Justin asking questions and want to be there for him to help him along. Ryan is quite young to understand but I have already found social stories online for him as well to try and explain why Daddy will be away for awhile. I fear doing something socially inappropriate or somehow coming across selfish when all I want to be is selfless. Everyone grieves in their own way and I know there are a lot of intense changing emotions involved. I hope he knows that I will step up to the plate and take care of anything and everything I can possibly do as he takes whatever time he needs.
For tonight, I want to pay my respect and show love and honor to John, Justin, Ryan, John's Mom, Jan, his sisters Sue and Sara and their families, his brother George and his family, his aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and everyone whose lives were positively touched by this sweet and thoughtful woman.
John, Justin, Ryan and I were blessed to have the opportunity to see her last summer when we took our big trip across country to see John's family and attend the Autism Society of America Conference. It was the first time Genevieve had met Ryan and the second time she had met Justin. In the time before we were there she had been quite ill and there was some question as to if we would be able to make it in time to see her. I am glad that we were able to. She was quite lucid during the time we were there, she smiled, she recognized John and it gave him a happy experience to hold onto.
Here are two pictures from that last visit in Summer 2009 where I remember her alert and the family happy.
Ryan, John, Jan (John's Mom), Justin and Grandma Genevieve
Same great group + your Friendly Aspierations Blogger, Karen
As I get ready to end my blog for the evening, I hear my husband typing on his keyboard off to the left. He has been working on his blog for quite some time and I am giving him his space. I will be here when he needs me. I haven't had experience before with helping John through a big grieving process but I do remember losing each of my 4 Grandmas and although it is not the same, I feel sympathy for him and will do my best to empathize as well. He will be heading off to Wisconsin for 4 - 5 days over Labor Day weekend and although the boys and I will be here in Washington, we will be with him and his family in heart.
I am sure he will do a lovely tribute to his Grandma so I'm going to include a link to his blog here as soon as its finished. I would appreciate it if you could send positive thoughts and prayers to John, Justin, Ryan and the entire family.
Blessings to you, Grandma Genevieve. Without you, there'd be no Jan, without Jan, there'd be no John, without John, there would be no Justin or Ryan. Thank you for your life on this earth, the lives you brought to this earth and all of those you touched.
Love, blessings, peace and eternal life,