In case you haven't heard, my grandmother (my dad's mom) passed away 3 weeks ago today. She had Alzheimer's and dementia for the last several years of her life. I try to keep my focus on the positive: she is with Jesus, fully restored, without suffering, and I know I will see her again. But honestly, I have times where I see others her age still enjoying their families and life, and think how unfair that disease is to those who suffer from it. In the end, it completely robs you of all you hold dear. It's just horrible. In my grandma's case, I'm grateful that I know her soul was kept safe with her Savior, but I still wish she never had to go through life with Alzheimer's. She did everything right. She walked. And walked. And walked. And walked some more. She did puzzles. She read. And yet it still got her. But, like my aunt had shared at her funeral, her greatest desire was for a close family, and if there's any silver lining in her suffering, it's the fact that it truly brought our family so much closer. Just like Grandma always wanted.
I have to say, writing is so therapeutic for me. When I'm happy, mad, worried, or sad, I reach for my prayer journal and write. Recently, though, I've been avoiding it. Not really wanting to allow myself to get very emotional yet (I'm a little too good at keeping feelings to myself - it almost always backfires). But I do have my moments. I am going to try and get through this post without any of those moments, and focus on the wonderful time we had in Denver together.
I'll just start at the beginning of our trip out to Denver. Long story short, we didn't wake up to the alarm, had an A/C scare with the van, so stopped by our mechanic's shop to check it out, and when we finally thought we were on our way...
...flooding. Big time. It took us another couple of hours to get around it, but we were determined to keep on going.
The toll bridge we were able to cross was closed shortly after we crossed...
Because of our very late and slow start (I forgot to mention that I was hitting up every restroom we drove by until I got through a whole bottle of Pepto), we stopped at a hotel just inside Colorado for the night. Nearby was a correctional facility, and I think it was Trevor who said that someone could steal from the hotel, then just walk on over to jail. :)
We stopped at a Kmart for supplies, and as we were heading to check out, Elise breaks out into a run, and dives into a pool of big bouncy balls. What else is a kid to do when they see a pool of balls? Honestly, it looked like fun...
We used to take seeing palm trees, the ocean, and mountains in the distance for granted. But not anymore.
Our van has a new hobby: bug collecting.
Here is a shout out to our favorite Mexican fast food joint: Del Taco! We came upon this one while we were trying to get to the Denver airport. We weren't very hungry yet, but when you see a favorite restaurant that you don't have nearby anymore, you go!
In case you're wondering, we got 10 soft tacos, 2 Del Carbons, 3 chicken soft tacos, a bucket of fries, nachos, a beef burrito, a hard shell taco, fried jalapenos, and 2 large drinks for just over $20. The price and quality far surpasses the Midwest's idea of Mexican food (Taco John's = eww), and it's one of our many must-eats when we go back to California.
After having our fill of Del Taco, we made our way to the airport to meet my family. That airport is nuts, but we finally figured out where to park and where to go.
The kids were excited to see all the pirates scattered throughout the airport and city of Denver.
Finally, all together!! Well, almost. Aunt Julia and Susan flew in later that evening.
We headed over to the hotel to get settled and await the arrival of Aunt Julia and Susan. The view from our room made my stomach drop every single time I looked down. I gave fast instruction that no kid was to climb or look very far over the railings. Yikes!
Can you see my kids waving from in front of our room?
There was a lot of swimming to be swum. Is swum even a word? Swam didn't sound right in that sentence.
Leah looks like she had a bit of jet lag...
Steven wants to be a photographer. I think he needs practice. I mean, c'mon - he can't even take the picture straight! *Inside joke ;)
There's the wannabe photog!
Sierra and Grandma having some down time.
Mom opening her birthday gift from us...
Heading out to grab a bite at Carl's Jr..
This guy sure loves his Coke! ;)
The sunsets were simply glorious.
This was an accidental picture I snapped when fixing settings, but it proves I was there, too ;)
We took the hotel shuttle to hit up some shopping. This is Leah, me, and Robert trying to figure out where to go next.
And Trevor found a wall to climb...
After shopping, it was time to head to the Rockies game!
|Abby's I want cotton candy face.|
|Trevor's I'm not gonna catch a ball, am I face.|
In our seats!
I like how Steven's eye is framed. And Laura's face.
Two of my absolute favorite people in the world. Some day, we'll live close again.
I loved the sun shining down on us...
What's a ball game without hot dogs?
Aww! We haven't been to a MLB game in years. I felt nostalgic the whole night. Some day, when we are closer, we will get season tickets. There's nothing like the feeling that you get when you're at a game, eating those hot dogs and cotton candy, singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game," doing the wave, and screaming for every hit of the ball.
Elise tuckered out...
We lost the game - don't get me started on why! - but it was so much fun. Definitely a highlight in the midst of the sad reason we were there.
Thursday, June 30th, was the day we laid Grandma to rest. The funeral director told my aunt what a gift she left us in having her funeral already planned. Tears come to my eyes as I type this because it was noticed that in every Bible she owned, she wrote down 2 Corinthians 12:14. "...and I will not be a burden to you... After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children."
That truly was my grandmother. She loved giving to her family. To everyone, really. I've never known a servant's heart like hers.
Here is the front and back of the memorial card that Aunt Julia, my dad, and I stayed up until after 3am to make and print. FYI, if your printer paper gets all wonky and just won't pull the paper through straight, try turning it upside-down, hitting it, then open it up and pull out a little pink hair pretty. Memories. :)
Photo credit goes to Jan Miles
Part of the funeral arrangement that my grandmother had planned was a limo taking the family to the graveside. When she planned this, I don't think she even dreamed that her little family could grow to be as big as it is, and that only the grandchildren and great-grandchildren would fit in the limo.
Robert and I didn't ride in the limo, but we had a special drive with Aunt Julia and Susan.
I'm not sure why, but I imagined my grandma's coffin to be blue. I actually let out an involuntary gasp when I saw it. It's not like she wore a lot of blue or anything, but I think it has to do with what she told me on my wedding day while I was getting ready. She told me that she wore a blue garter on her own wedding day. That always stuck with me as her marriage has always been a mystery, and yet she shared that little detail with me.
Grandma was laid to rest next to her parents...
We were all very touched by the people who came out to celebrate Grandma's life. After she declined to the point of needing care for her Alzheimer's 4 years ago, she was moved out to California to be closer to family. I honestly didn't know that anyone would come, being that she had been gone for so long. Grandma had stated wanting a graveside service with family, but people in her church and places of service were her family, too, and that was evident by their presence that day and things that they shared. One lady shared how one Thanksgiving she was alone, and my grandma had her over for Thanksgiving dinner - even used the fine China. That's just the kind of lady she was.
During the sharing time of the service, I shared kind of what of I posted on my Happiness Is... blah'g about my grandma having joy, and how even though she can't remember me, she never forgot Jesus. To read that post, click here.
During the service, there was some rolling thunder in the distance, and it made me think of the hymn, "How Great Thou Art:
O Lord my God,
When I in awesome wonder
The works Thy Hand hath made,
I see the stars,
I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy pow'r throughout
The universe displayed;
When through the woods
And forest glades I wander
I hear the birds
Sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down
From lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook
And feel the gentle breeze;
Then sings my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!
When Christ shall come,
With shouts of acclamation,
And take me home,
What joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow
In humble adoration
And there proclaim,
"My God, how great Thou art!"
It was so awesome how I experienced all that the author of the song wrote of that day. The mountains, the breeze, the trees, the birds... even the rolling thunder.
Before leaving the cemetery, Dad and Aunt Julia had to stop into the funeral home. For posterity sake, I don't want to forget the conversation we had there in the foyer. Let's just say that digestion and yogurt were the main topic.
After the service, we had lunch at the Burnsley Hotel. It was very nice, and I enjoyed watching Elise give her Grandpa a heart attack with the pouring of salt and sugar, and clanging of glasses and silverware.
I'm cross-eyed on purpose ;)
Yum... I ate every last bite!
Once we finished lunch and the downpour of rain let up, we drove around Denver to see the homes where Grandma and her parents lived. We also drove by churches and schools attended.
*Dad and Aunt Julia, If I captioned any of these incorrectly, please let me know.
|Sherman Tower: where Grandma lived for about 30 years before moving to California. She lived on the 9th floor, but her window is blocked by the tree in this picture.|
|You can see the state capitol from her street.|
|Up close of yhe capitol.|
|I'm not sure what this place is. I might have snapped the pic because I liked the architecture.|
|The church where my great-grand parents and grandma were married.|
|From the front. I would so love to take wedding photos here!|
|Where my grandma went grocery shopping.|
|Where my grandma went to school.|
|Where my grandma went to church.|
|Another shot of her school.|
|This is the building my grandma used to work at when it was Connecticut General.|
|Apartment where my grandma, dad, and aunt lived.|
|Cheesman Park. My dad and aunt played here growing up. I so wish I lived near this park.|
|This is the home my grandma grew up in.|
|Tried to get a better angle.|
|The house where my great-grandparents lived later on.|
|The homewhere my great-grandma grew up.|
|Apartments where my grandma, dad, and aunt lived.|
|St. Barnabas. Where they went to church, I think?|
|Dad taking a stroll down Memory Lane.|
|East High School. Where My dad, aunt, and (I think) Grandma, and great-grandparents went to high school.|
|Salvation Army where my grandma volunteered.|
(Photo credit goes to Susan)
During our tour of Memory Lane, we started to smell a burning smell. At first, I was trying to chalk it up to the heavy traffic thinking one of those cars was the culprit since our car had just been looked over before the trip, but we soon came to the realization that it was, indeed, our car. So the next morning, we figured we would go eat breakfast with our old neighbors and friends that moved to the Denver area right before we moved to Iowa while our van was getting repaired at a nearby Goodyear shop. What we thought was going to be a two hour breakfast and visit to their book store then pick up the van get back to the hotel to get ready for the zoo, ended up being about a four hour breakfast, hang out and eat pizza the the store for lunch, dads take girls to the park while boys play video games in the back because it took the shop forever to get the part in. It was so good to see them though.
Once we were back on the road again, we met up at the zoo with everyone (minus Aunt Julia and Susan until later on).
Trevor was mimicking the bird, and the bird actually seemed to get pretty mad at him for it!
Believe it or not, my sister took this one:
After being served free (yes, free!) hot dogs, we hitched a ride to get to the other side of the zoo. This is a picture of our feet on that ride.
I think somewhere, although very deep down, these two actually love each other...
What's a zoo without a peacock?
And what's a Philip without chasing the zoo animals?
Aunt Nancy, I'm not sure if the following counts as pictures of the creature we don't speak of, but if it does, I am sorry!
I can't remember if this was a church of any significance, or if I just snapped it because of the architecture. I love beautiful, old architecture.
I couldn't believe the beautiful rays shining through the clouds...
The sunsets in Denver were amazing. Stunning. Gorgeous. Breathtaking. Mesmerizing.
For dinner on our last evening in Denver, we ate at Olive Garden. Or, should I say, waited at Olive Garden.
Once seated, we had a fun dinner. Even with the shrieks and screams of a girls softball team in the same room. But we got even! Our waitress was generous with the mints, and there was quite the fight over them. Then came the part I really wish I had my camera out for! So, in not wanting to forget the moment, here is my reenactment of the moment Aunt Julia opened the bill...
Aunt Julia saw the mints and let out a scream, followed by the rest of us screaming and diving for the mints! She is so cool. :)
The next morning was full of packing and loading cars and saying goodbyes. I hate that. I can't wait for the day we don't have those goodbyes. I made it through OK, saving the sadness for behind my sunglasses.
Sadness turned into a momentary happiness when we saw this sight:
Another favorite from California. Here, we ordered 10 tacos, 2 (or 3, I can't remember) large drinks, 2 chicken sandwiches, jalapeno poppers, and I'm pretty sure there were fries or something else... for $16.
Oh, and we got a new Jack. We would never have one on our antenna while living in California, but now we wear him proudly. :)
The last picture taken on our way home:
It was really hard for me to leave Denver. I can't explain it, but I felt a sort of connection there that I never have before. Maybe it's from truly appreciating our family history now. I don't know. But I can't wait to go back.
About the title of this post... While we did celebrate my grandma in Denver, CO, I actually grew up knowing my grandma as 'Grandma in Denver'. I was so fortunate to have two very wonderful grandmothers in my life: my grandma from my mom's side who lived in Iowa, and my grandma from my dad's side who lived in Colorado. I think my grandma from my dad's side thought she would save confusion over which grandmother was writing by signing every letter ' Love, Grandma in Denver'. When I was younger, I used to think it was silly because only she would tape feathers and leaves to her stationary, so I never wondered who it came from. But, as I grew older, it became a very special name to me. When my mom's mother passed away over 14 years ago, I was actually sad to see letters from my grandma signed simply, 'Love, Grandma'. It never looked right to me. She had always been, and will always be, my Grandma in Denver.