Little Talks

Winnie Welker Ahern: July 27, 1925 – Jan. 22, 2012

Today is Uncle Paul’s 29th birthday. It should be G.G’s 87th. I miss her. And I miss our little talks. 

I don’t like walking around this old and empty house
So hold my hand, I’ll walk with you my dear
The stairs creak as I sleep, it’s keeping me awake
It’s the house telling you to close your eyes

I remember the excitement of Grandma’s stories from when I was a little girl. She could bring us back to the past, and always make sure to show us the humor of the situation.

After I grew up and moved away, on any trip up and down our great state, I’d always stop at her house. We’d simply chat. About life. There would be stories – of past, present and future. There would be laughter. This month I drove home; I didn’t get to stop and say hello.

I miss our little talks.

Some days I can’t even trust myself
It’s killing me to see you this way
‘Cause though the truth may vary
This ship will carry
Our bodies safe to shore

I understand the circle of life. I just don’t like it. And I’m still angry she had to suffer.

She was remarkably healthy throughout her life – seldom ever missing a day at school. The only significant illnesses she encountered were the measles (age 10) and chicken pox (age 12). Both initially contracted by her younger brother John, who was afflicted first, followed by another brother Ray and Grandma Winnie. They convalesced together, as their mother read them stories.  Until she got sick near the end, she experienced only one trip to the emergency room – to have a piece of steel removed from her eye.

Mommies aren’t allowed to get sick, she said. Just like great-grandmas aren’t supposed to have brain tumors. But, obviously we weren’t calling the shots.

I miss our little talks.

Hey! Hey! Hey!
There’s an old voice in my head that’s holding me back
Well tell her that I miss our little talks
Soon it will be over and buried with our past
We used to play outside when we were young,
And full of life and full of love

She is the reason I tell stories. And I feel that it is now my job to keep her memory alive. Hey – I tell the stories of our family now.

When my grandfather died, the priest presiding over his funeral imparted insight that has stuck with me for the past 16 years. Every person dies three deaths.

The physical death – when the departed is no longer there to see, hear and touch. Letting go – when those left behind let go and move ahead. The final death – the saddest – when there is no one left to remember.

I remember our little talks.

‘Cause though the truth may vary
This ship will carry
Our bodies safe to shore
Some days I don’t know if I am wrong or right
Your mind is playing tricks on you, my dear

She was the matriarch of the family who held the extended relations together. We would chat daily. She was the only Grandma I knew with an online profile. On weekends we’d talk on the phone. Every time I was home, we’d schedule lunch.

I can’t bring myself to delete her contact information. Part of me still feels that she’ll pop up and ask how my day is going.

I miss our little talks.

‘Cause though the truth may vary
This ship will carry
Our bodies safe to shore

Some people don’t understand. Why be sad about a grandmother? It’s simply the circle of life. It may not be tragic, but it is sad. Because I’m missing our little talks.

Hey!
Don’t listen to a word I say
The screams all sound the same

Though the truth may vary
This ship will carry
Our bodies safe to shore

I miss her. Her daughters miss her. Her brothers miss her. Her friends miss her. The memories make me smile. She lives on in the namesake of her great grandson.

You’re gone gone gone away
I watched you disappear
All that’s left is a ghost of you

She always wanted to simply go to sleep and never wake up. Instead, she faded from illness. But she knew she was loved. She knew she was living a legacy. I think that if nothing else, she is the reason I’m a storyteller. And whether that reaches millions or simply my sons, I will keep telling stories – both hers and my own.

Now we’re torn torn torn apart, there’s nothing we can do
Just let me go we’ll meet again soon
Now wait wait wait for me
Please hang around
I’ll see you when I fall asleep

I really do hope there’s a heaven – I know she’s there by the beach, delivered by a fantabulous car. She’s been in my dreams so often; we talk there. Someday we will share stories again.

Don’t listen to a word I say
The screams all sound the same
Though the truth may vary
This ship will carry
Our bodies safe to shore

Happy birthday Grandma Winnie.

I love you. I miss you. I tell your stories. I create our own. Will you watch over me?

I’ll continue our little talks.

14 Comments

Filed under Family Stories

14 Responses to Little Talks

  1. Gramma J

    The memories are the most important to keep alive. I feel like she is still a vibrant presence because of all the memories. When those memories dim, it will be truly sad. Thanks for keeping the stories going.
    Her advice: “Love life”. She sure did.

  2. Nancy Welker Caracciolo

    I should have known better than to read this entry at work. Crying onto your keyboard is frowned upon here. I knew that there would be a lovely tribute on your page today Tricia. I know how much you miss her as I do also. You say that some people don’t understand “why be sad about a grandma”. Well, Wini was not your typical, old grandma. Fun, vibrant and full of life. I type her name as Wini – back in 2005 she wanted to try spelling her name that way since it is the true shorten-version of her name: something new and cute to shake things up a bit. Yes, Tricia, please keep telling stories – we all love it. <3

  3. Nancy Welker Caracciolo

    Oops forgot – Happy Birthday to Paul!

  4. Happy Birthday Grandma. It feels like there is something missing today not having you here to share this special birthday. It was an honor to share it with you.

  5. Jen

    Tricia-
    I still have little talks with my grandmother and with my son even though they may not be physically here for them Loved ones are always with us, and even though I believe they “know” what is going on in our lives, they enjoy the little talks as much as we do. I can’t wait to meet you next week!

    • I am very much looking forward to meeting you! 🙂 And thanks for the reminder that they’re still with us. PS – GrandmaWinnie would totally have loved your blog.

  6. Joanne Hamann

    Well, Nancy, I lucked out – my writing class was cancelled today so I could bawl into my keyboard alone. Thanks, Tricia, so much! It is no accident that today I wrote a commentary on grief for my class. I think she very much enjoyed her birthdays even though she didn’t want anyone to make a fuss. I remember repeated attempts at making lemon merengue (sp?) pie for her when I was still living at home. I really don’t think it can ever be that sad in that we will never forget her or our beautiful memories of her. She is forever imbedded in our souls, a constant fabric of our lives. I miss her more than anything. Happy Birthday mom!

  7. granpastavo

    happy bdy Winnie ,you always will have a special place in the lives you touched i thank you and will never forget you , you were a GREAT LADY ciao gustavo
    ,

  8. What a moving post. I’m tearing up!

    On another note: Melanie Crutchfield (another blogger) is doing a blog relay about hope in the spirit of the Olympics, and I just know you would have a unique and inspirational take on the topic. See Abandoning Pretense for details. 🙂

  9. It is nice to share your memories, I also miss my grandmother and think of her often, she is certainly with me in my day and in my dreams. I can feel her quiet support and love. I like the part you shared from the funeral, the three deaths, I hadn’t heard that before and I will remember it forever I am sure.
    Best wishes,
    funnydoctormom

  10. Dalia

    Thanks Tricia,
    As always you put all our feelings into words. where is that song/poem from?

  11. Pingback: When Music is a Memory | Stream of the Conscious

  12. My grandma died when I was 12 and I still miss her every day. She was hilarious and full of life. Some of my best blog posts are her stories! I think our grandmas keep watch over us – love never dies!

    PS – I so enjoyed meeting you at Blogher!

    PPS – You have incredibly striking eyes!

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