It's no lie that keeping up with this blog is more than I am capable of at this point in my life... I wish you could see the countless posts that I've started and haven't finished... or maybe they are finished... and I just need to be more ok with "complete" and less ok with "perfect." But this is a place for memories and one of my greatest memories has gone to a better place this week.
Heaven has gained a character! This I know! My kids will remember Catherine Barry Higgins as "Great Nana"...the lady we went to visit. The old woman in the wheel chair who bragged about their drawings, pictures and accomplishments. The one who giggled, smiled and nodded as if she could hear the very important information they were telling her about their camps, strawberry picking, bike rides or books from RJ Julia each time we visited. But I, however, will remember her for SOOOOO much more.
What an amazingly feat those 98.5 years she lived were! Maybe I love her most because she lived through all my favorite decades... She was too young to roar in the '20s but my guess is she made a decent effort trying with her aunt Doo Doo and Nell? and 5 other Barry siblings that lived with her. In 1916 the president was Truman (she lived through 12 Presidents! She voted in 12 elections. Let's hope she voted in that Eisenhower election since women could finally vote! Prize to whoever can name them: Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama). She met my grand father Daniel Higgins and married when he came back from War. Then he went back to War! They got married and he went to war! I mean let's be honest... I freak out when I have to pull clothes out of the dirty laundry pile for my kids (ok, and maybe me) to wear again before washing... (work with me, everyone does that right?!) This woman lived through sending her husband to war, a Depression, Prohibition (God love her), the first flight, the invention of the credit card (can I get an AMEN), a man on the moon, the assassination of a president, the invention of TV, dishwashers, microwaves (how she cooked dinner I'll never know), computers, email, cell phones, iPods, iPads, facebook, selfies and the list goes on and on.
During this time she managed to raise three amazing kids: Danny, Patty and Ricky and love countless neices and nephews. I don't remember all the stories from their generation but I know Higgins' playground was a place everyone was welcome to play as long as they had a good attitude and played fair. Pop-Pop had no time for naughty words or bad attitudes (see: Making it through a World War. I guess playground fights pale in comparisson). I'm guessing it's during this time she looked out her kitchen pantry door while she perfected her orange jello salad, pumpkin bread and cheese cakes on a backyard full of kids having fun. There is no doubt in my mind that she made all the girl cousins wear different bathing caps summer after summer at the Jersey shore so that she could repeatedly count them from her chair making sure they were all there. I didn't have to be there to see that to know its true. As amazing as she was nervous was her middle name.
While I know my kids will remember her, and I am feel so blessed and thankful for that, I realized in the last few weeks in times they caught me sad or crying and didn't understand why, that there are so many things they won't remember of "My Nana." We'll start with something she has told me many times... "I was there when you were born, you know!" They won't remember sleepovers in their house in Roselle watching Family Ties (it's true, mom, she let us stay up till 9:00!) eating ice cream sodas at the kitchen table. They won't remember shopping trips and surprises of the coveted Esprit shirt and Jessica Mclintock dress. The words "drenched in holy water!" and "Bless yourself" mean nothing to them! I'm going to tell my mom to bring that back! It's priceless. They won't remember her eating toast, butter and jelly every morning for as long as I can remember. Or being embarrassed of the white Chevy Nova and its slow drivers that dropped me off at soccer or dance during the 1 of 18 million times they were there to babysit us. Thank God that chevy nova loved some McD's-- always a reward when they were here. Crocheted blankets, kleenexes stuffed up her sleeves and proclamations of "and how!" are forever etched in my mind. In college nothing brought a smile to my face quite like an enveloped taped up tight with a random quilted bear or knights of columbus sticker on the back placed solely to ensure no one was going to steal my card of sweet words, random updates and most importantly my $20 'mad money"! Was anyone more surprised to see you? Throwing her head back and
hands up and saying "Oh my..! I can't believe it! You're here!" even when she knew you were coming. I don't think I realized at the time just how amazing it was that my Nana was not only at my wedding but rocked that pink suit and killed it on the dance floor!
There are a couple things that are for sure. I know that we can hardly pass a Dunkin Donuts or talk about the Yankees without a reference to Great Nana. I know that in her later years we laughed about things like "Patty, I didn't have a heart attack, tell them I didn't have a heart attack" and "Have you seen how OLD all the people in here are (as she shakes her head!)? I know that somewhere along the line we realized she wasn't going to die of a broken heart after Pop died and it was indeed going to take more than a broken hip, heart attack or bacterial infection to take this tough cookie out... We were thinking somewhere along the lines of a drive by or gang fight... And I know that there are very few things that can be constant over 98.5 years. But her love for her family and friends stood the test of time and will be felt for many more decades to come. And now the perfectionist in me wants to find the "perfect picture" ... the one of my wedding or four generations with her holding Jack for the first time... or thomas... or kate... but now i'm going to press "publish" because sometimes finished is better than perfect.
4 days ago