Archive for February, 2012

If you didn’t already know, almost a month ago my family lost our Matriarch.  My Grammy, Kay Mannell, passed away January 28th, 2012 after falling in our family home… Only 2 weeks before her 94th birthday (although the doctor did give her a month for good behaviour…she always said she wanted to outlive, or at least live up to HER mother’s age of 94).

I haven’t spoken publicly about it much…I haven’t really found the words yet to do so…but I’m going to try, so please bare with me here.

I owe everything I am to the women in my life…My Mother, my Nana & of course, my Grammy.
There are tons of people who only know their Grandparents through family stories and photographs.  I am truly blessed to have had Nana & Grammy there my whole life.  And my mom?  I don’t know what I would do, or who I would be without her.  She’s an angel. Plain and simple.


Like I said…this woman is our guardian angel, right here on Earth.  She has taken care of our family with an indescribable amount of unconditional love.  She is always there when you need her, whether you know you need her or not.  She stayed with Grammy day in and day out when she was in the hospital.  She cared for Poppa (her father) when he was hospitalized, before he passed away…and again when Nana was hospitalized and had to have her leg amputated.  Hell, she was even there with ME in the hospital when I had to get my tonsils removed! (like I said, whether you know you need her or not! lol)  There are no words to describe the amount of love and caring my mother shows the world.  When we feel the weight of the world on our shoulders somehow my mom always has just enough strength to help push us through.

We are a very emotional family (I blame my dad) and my mom is the glue that holds us all together…and let me tell you, thats no easy task.  When I say we’re emotional, I mean it’s absolutely ridiculous how emotional we are.  My mom’s unconditional love must be made of freaking super glue or something… No matter how terrible a situation may be, mom always has a way of making us feel better, stronger.

My mom has taught me to stay true to myself and always stand up for what I believe in.  Given, that did get me in trouble a few times throughout my teenage years, but I’ve found a less rebellious way to be myself now a days.  She has taught me to embrace myself, my personality, my fears and dreams and mould them all into who I want to be.  I may not have conquered all of my fears (I still can’t watch ET for the life of me, or go into the basement in the dark) but I know that I am a better person, a better wife, and one day one hell of a mom, because of my mother.

I love you so much mom.  I’m sorry if I don’t say it enough.  You’re the best mom a girl could ask for, and I thank God for you every day.


Nana is the epitome of strong women.  She was married to Poppa for Christ’s sake!  That alone takes balls! lol  In all seriousness though, if Nana has taught us anything its that you have to be strong in life.  When Poppa’s health started to deteriorate Nana was the backbone of the family.  She did everything for him.  She showed us that no matter how difficult a situation may be that true love, determination & patience will always get you through.

After dealing with the difficulty of losing her husband, Nana also had to overcome the difficulty of losing her leg.  She was hospitalized and it had to be amputated.  It was a terrible time for our family.  We were all so scared that we would lose her…the first amputation, below the knee wouldn’t heal, and they had to go back and take more.  My mom was at the hospital a lot…again.  But Nana pulled through because she’s strong as all hell!  Not only was she strong enough to come home, but she’s continued to be strong every day since then.   If her confidence has ever faltered she’s never once showed it.

Watching her overcome this tragic event has made me a better person.  It has shown me that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to, and that the only person standing in my way is myself.  Nana also has an amazing sense of humour…I’ve watched her turn tragedy into comedy, which I think is amazing.  Being able to laugh at a situation rather than sulk about it is a great trait to have.  One of my favourite Nana moments was when she had returned from the hospital and she came over to visit.  We were kind of worried about how it had effected her or whether or not it would be weird…but the first thing Nana did was unfold her empty pant leg from underneath her and wave it at us and yell “helloooooo!!!” I almost died laughing.  We instantly felt at ease about the entire ordeal.  If Nana wasn’t upset or frightened about how could we be?

I think back on this all the time.  Anytime I start worrying & complaining about paying bills, gaining weight, working overtime, or simply getting sick I stop and think about how small and insignificant those things really are….I think about Nana and her courage & determination and think to myself, if I can be even half as strong as Nana is, then I can get through anything.

Thank you Nana for being a wonderful, beautiful and always entertaining woman.  You’ve shown me time and time again that a little optimism goes a long way.  I love you so much!


Grammy was an amazing woman…actually, scratch that.  She was THE MOST amazing woman.  She touched any and every life that was lucky enough to intertwine with her own.  She was ‘Grammy’ to everyone…whether you had known her all your life, or had only met her once, it didn’t matter.  She was Grammy to all.  She taught me so much about life and love…about what it takes to be a good wife, mother & grandmother.  And really folks, it doesn’t take much.  Love, mostly…a lot of love….patience, a great sense of humour, discipline, and patience…I know, I already said patience…but you need it.  Especially when you’ve got 5 kids, 12 grandchildren, and 9 great-grandchildren!  Not to mention in-laws & family friends who considered her their family as well….We all owe everything to Grammy’s unconditional love.

Grammy was strong, independent, elegant, beautiful, brave and above all, incredibly stubborn.  That’s what we loved the most about her, I think.  Her ability to make you laugh with the simplest of facial expressions was priceless.  When she’d roll her eyes at my dad for telling her to turn up her hearing aids….or the look she’d give you for telling her to do anything for that matter!  The look that instantly told you “I’m 93 years old and I’m going to do whatever I damn well please!” …you were smiling within seconds.

The 2 weeks that Grammy was hospitalized after her fall was by far the worst 2 weeks of my life…probably of all our lives. We had spent days and nights with her there…watching over her, comforting her, comforting each other…not knowing what even the next hour would bring.  Then we were blessed…  I was raised Catholic, but I am not an overly religious person… but I do believe that we were given a gift from God during her hospital stay…  Although she suffered a terrible fall, resulting in brain damage, she never lost the ability to be Grammy.  The doctors told us a couple days in that she might not last the night…but Grammy being her strong, stubborn self was not about to be told when she was going to die.  The next few days were amazing.  She was awake and talking to us…reading magazines with me…looking at old family photos and pointing out who was who, and what they were doing that day.  It was within these few days where one of my most favourite Grammy-moments happened.  She was hungry and wanted food.  The nurses told us they would bring some apple sauce for her to try out.  They gave my dad these tiny apple sauce containers and said she had to eat them slow and in little bits.  My dad fed her only ONE spoonful before she grabbed the whole thing from him, took the spoon, gave him that awesome Mannell Death Stare and ate the whole damn thing herself…then asked for more.  Then ate lunch, had tea, a glass of milk & finished off her supper that night with lemon pudding.  But that look! Oh my God…the death stare my dad got for trying to feed her was absolutely priceless!  We were all laughing so hard.  It was just so Grammy.

There wasn’t a single person who ever met her that didn’t instantly fall in love with her.   It’s no wonder her and Grampa were married for almost 70 years! (Grampa passed away 7 months before their 70th wedding anniversary).  Chris and I actually got married on their anniversary.  Our wedding day would have been their 70th…I am so absolutely honoured to share this day with them.  It means more to me than I’ll ever be able to express in words.

It breaks my heart that she is no longer here with us.  I’ve cried almost every single day since January 28th…She may have been 93 (almost 94!) years old, but I still don’t believe it was her time to go…but even still, I don’t cry for that reason…Grammy lived a long and very happy life.  We are all so lucky to have had her in our lives for so long.  I cry, because, well…it’s just so hard to picture life without her in it.  Our family home (my parents house, where she lived with them) seems empty now without her in it.  Theres an empty place at the dinner table…an empty seat near the fireplace…there’s no one quietly shuffling around upstairs in her room… It’s going to take a lot of getting used to.  Even my parents dog & cat are lost without her there.

I’ll always remember what Grammy told Chris and I in her speech on our wedding day.  “The secret to a long and happy marriage is simple.  Always go for walks together after dinner and never, ever stop talking to each other.”  We won’t Grammy.  I promise you that.  I love you with all my heart and I miss you more and more each day.  I hope you and Grampa are walking those beautiful Hawaiian beaches together once more….Every time I see purple in the sun rise or set, I always think of you and know you’re looking down on me.


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