Stella Star – remembering grandma

Grandma & Grandpap, Johnny & Jodi - 1968

Grandma & Grandpap, Johnny & Jodi – 1968

Grandma was my F-A-V-O-R-I-T-E person in the whole wide world growing up.

I have so many happy memories about Grandma I could probably write an entire book.

I took a walk on my lunch break yesterday afternoon in between raindrops and thunderstorms, and for some reason, I thought about Grandma an extra lot on that walk.

I think everything about early summer – the sights, the sounds, the smells – remind me of Grandma.

Maybe it is because I spent almost EVERY SINGLE DAY of EVERY SINGLE SUMMER growing up at Grandma’s house.

Oh – it was the BEST camp ever!

I learned so much from a lady that had to quit school in 4th grade to stay home and take care of her three younger brothers after their young mother passed away. At the ripe ole’ age of about 9 or 10, Grandma became mother, housewife, laundress, seamstress, cook, repair person, gardener and lawn tenderer. Can you even imagine? And this is long before automatic washing machines and dryers and sewing machines, disposable diapers, microwaves, cell phones, Google and Youtube, even indoor bathrooms! This was hard work – all day long – every day.

So though grandma was not formally educated, she was one of the smartest people I knew, and I learned so much from her – more than I realized at the time and even more the older I get looking back. She taught me important STUFF about real life – about cooking – about nature – about relationships – about acceptance and being the best of yourself. It was often disguised in humor or tough love or late night talks or swings on the porch or while picking blackberries. She wasn’t really trying to teach me by telling me how to be or what to say or how to act (or was she?). She lived her life in a way that demonstrated it and allowed me to experience it.

Oh she did some pretty UN-smart things too……. Like cutting off half of her middle finger on the lawn mower blade while trying to remove stuck grass without shutting off the mower…. Or cleaning some tough grime off the kitchen floor with gasoline and getting too close to the oven and catching the house on fire….

She never got her driver’s license after driving THROUGH the garage door, but she somehow managed to get around.

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Grandma, Jodi & Jake 1987

She couldn’t balance a checkbook, but she was the best penny pincher and gift giver ever.

She did, however, make the absolute best blackberry pie, coffee soup (half coffee/half milk and lots of crumbled up saltines or chunks of toast), homemade sauerkraut and pierogies and halupkis and liver ball soup and apricot bread and nut rolls and salmon patties and dandelion salad and dumplings – oh my!

She also taught me things like how to make beautiful, colorful bouquets of Queen Ann’s Lace (many consider a weed) by putting food coloring in a mason jar vase of water so that when the flowers “drank the water,” their white petals turned pink or green or blue.

She taught me how to build a tent and a fort and how to camp out in the woods (about 500 feet from the house – but oh so far and vast when I was young). Thought I must admit I’m still not very good at that woodsy stuff…. Trying!

She could also splice electrical wires and do plumbing repairs.

She even allowed me to learn through crazy experiments like the time my friend, Janet and I decided we were going to boil worms (in her kitchen) for a science fair experiment! Or clean myself up in her bathroom with her yellow towels after experimenting with a mud mask facial – with REAL mud from the gravel road! (Oh the breakout after that escapade…)

What a sport she was – what a mentor – what a hero!

When grandma got older and became sick, it was my time to repay her. I hope I made her feel as loved as she did me.

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Grandma, Jodi, & Nick 1990

I’ll never forget the time when she was recovering from a surgery and stayed with Marty andย me in our small home in the spare room so we could look after her closely. I was pregnant with my first son, Jake at the time, and still working full time. Grandma was having trouble sleeping at night and would get chilled and shake and couldn’t get warm. She called out in the middle of the night and Marty got her an electric blanket, but nothing worked. She kept trembling and shaking until I climbed on top of her – pregnant belly and all – wrapped my arms around her and calmed her until the shivering stopped – warmed from my body heat – and love. And we slept through the rest of the night. I know she would have done the same for me. That is the kind of love she taught me.

Her name was Stella, and I thought that was the silliest name when I was young. She loved her name, however. She would proudly tell me that Stella meant “star,” and as I look back, I realized she was – and still is – my shining star.

Do you have a Stella Star in your life?

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Stella Star & Her #1 Fan – 1985

I sure hope so. There’s nothing better.

Love you Grandma – then, now, and at all the stages of Life In Between…

Cheers and Hugs,
Jodi

35 thoughts on “Stella Star – remembering grandma

  1. Jodi,
    What a beautiful story about love and family! Yes I have a “Stella Star”, my Baba, her name was Helen. And like your Grandmother she to had no formal education, she had to quit school in the 2nd grade to help her Mother care for the other children after her Father and brother were killed in a coal mine explosion in Williamsburg,PA. YEs, I also remember so much of Baba. We lived 1 block from my Mothers Parents, & Baba would walk past on Sunday so we could walk to Church together. Then I would have a wonderful Sunday afternoon with my Grandparents having dinner with them, Baba was the best cook and baker, and then going for a Sunday ride, sometimes stopping for a icecream Skyscrapper @ Isalys in downtown Youngstown!!!! Like you, I learned so many things from her! I could tell so many stories…
    Jodi, thank you for sharing stories of your “Stella Star”, because it brought back memories of my “Star”, my Baba!!!!
    It’s a wonderful “life in between”,
    Charlotte

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  2. Oh my Jodi, I surely do remember Stella ever so fondly. I love your post and even now, I can hear her laughing. Joyce and I taught her how to make bagna caulda which she loved. We had no idea she picked and ate dandelions as we also did. When I pick dandelions now, my grandfather, Nono, and my dad come to mind and remember what they taught me about where to get the “best”+ ones!!
    One story I remember of Aunt Stella that comes to mind that still makes Joyce and I laugh. When she moved to the condos in Mars she often would get water balloons and drop them on unsuspecting strangers as they came in the building!!! What a hoot!! Loved that about her. And oh how I remember her laugh!! Contagious for sure. Very special person indeed. Thanks for sharing!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Rob – how she loved you and Joyce too! And she LOVED Bagna Cauda. I think Joyce also had a special affinity for Aunt Stella camp growing up.

      I forgot about those water balloons until you mentioned. Oh – she sure could be a fun troublemaker! We also got her a “SUPER SOAKER” squirt gun – and did she have a blast with that! At the SENIOR HIGH RISE!

      I know she would be so proud of so many things you have done, are doing, and have accomplished. She would LOVE Joyce’s greenhouse and your garden. She always liked to compete to have the first red tomato.

      Another thing that makes me think of her and smile – like the other hundred kagillion! xo

      Thanks for sharing your memories of her too.

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  3. With many tears I love your recollection of Stella. She was also my shining star. Don’t think I would be the person I am today without her influence. What a mentor! We are so fortunate to have shared those times with her. I am so glad you were there when she needed warmth and love and all those tender touches that let her know how important she was ! Our relationship is fostered by her and I am certain that our shining star is smiling on us both! I love you so much and I am so grateful for you!!

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    • Oh Joyce – she loved you so too! Now you have tears in my eyes. I know our connection is strengthened by our shared love and admiration for our Shining Stella Star! Love ya! xo

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  4. Tears were brought to my eyes as I read your tribute to Grandma Stella. It emphasized to me the importance of leaving a legacy to those in our lives. It inspired me to be more introspective, to appreciate everyone more, and aspire to be a better person. Thanks for sharing, Jodi:)

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    • Thank you Cindy! I am certain you do this without even knowing, but if this post in some way caused pause to consider further, then that is good. ๐Ÿ™‚ I appreciate your sharing and commenting!

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  5. Jodi, through a smile I cried reading your blog. Thanks goodness, Oh Rob made me chucle! I also call my gramma my shining star. She passed away while I was pregnant with Bryan. I wanted to name him after her. How do you name a boy after an Estelle. We found out her Hebrew name was Esther (not really Hebrew) meaning star. Bryan’s Hebrew name is Kochav which translates to star. His middle name Eric utilizing the E. Bryan my star here, my gramma, who also taught me many things, my shining star always. Thank you for your beautiful story.

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  14. Your grandmother, your experience with her, your love for her, and all the memories you have of her remind me so much of my grandmother and my memories of her. She was my favorite person in the whole world and I still miss her every single day! Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories of her. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  24. You look so young when you had each of your boys, Nick and Jake. What a dear, beautiful and loving grandma you had, Jodi. โค
    I loved my three grandparents a lot. My grandpa was every bit as special to me, as my grandma was! They lived a couple of hours away. We exchanged notes and letters, my grandpa and I. He told me things that stayed with me about life, religion, engineering and respect.
    My grandma (his wife) was a good cook, fun, friendly and I loved her a lot. She made kuchen, spaetzle, springele cookies with anise and many other German recipes.
    My other Grandma O. lived with us from when I was 3 years old. She was quiet, loving and hardly smiled. She led a tough life but was never meant nor spoke a cross word. They all taught me so much.

    Liked by 1 person

      • So sorry, Jodi about your grandfather.

        You were older than I was the first time I had a miscarriage. (22). My first daughter was born when I was 24, second was 18 months later and last one was 3 1/2 years later.
        I probably looked young, too. ๐Ÿ™‚ xo

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