Stella Star – Remembering Grandma

This week of Christmas, I am sharing a few of my favorite posts from the past.  I couldn’t share favorites without including one of my all-time favorite people …. Grandma…. my Stella Star…. in this post I wrote 3 1/2 years ago. 
This day is also a day of sad remembrance of a sweet little boy (shown below with Grandma and Grandpap and me in 1968) – my brother, Johnny, before life and alcoholism stole his life as an adult when he decided one year ago today to step in front of train and let us know there would be no “Clarence” for him….

It was also the birthday of my beautiful, sweet, loving sister-in-law, whose life was cut way too short at 50 years old several years ago to cancer.

Life brings many memories – happy and sad, good and bad.  If we didn’t love, loss wouldn’t hurt so much…..  But it’s still worth it….  And it’s ok to have sad memories as well as happy ones.  It means we loved…. and that’s what life is about.

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 piecoffee 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 and 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

51 thoughts on “Stella Star – Remembering Grandma

  1. You got me at Clarence ….. I have a boy that didn’t have a Clarence too but I still love that film more than any, still watch it EVERY Christmas Eve, still believe in magic. And Stella was your magic. The magic that would get you through the happy and the sad that reminds you of the power of real love and that love really IS all we need. All hail Stella and the power of your story telling. And as a PS – my two older children were born in 1987 and 1990 – did I ever tell you that the fates conspire to bring people together and sometimes our Grannies are those very fates? Much love to you as you float decorously through the happy-sad of life and sprinkle your pixie dust to make the journey easier for all of us that have found you or you have found 💕

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    • I’m so sorry about your boy Osyth! So so sorry. Grandma was surely my magic. When I look back I realize how much I needed her and how much she was my rock through a bit of an unstable upbringing – moving so many times – going through parents divorcing- a remarriage – new dad – new baby sister. My best childhood memories are of times with her :). And how very interesting we had kiddos the same years! Love when we discover these things in common! Yes indeed the fates conspire to bring people together who need each other! ❤

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      • Thank you. And of course it is an all-enveloping sadness but it is also a happiness. Happy that we had him i our lives, happy that I knew that smile, happy that he allowed me to love him. And that is what nestles in my heart. And whenever I see a hare, I know he sent it. So happy. Really happy. It is what he wanted all the time whilst he nursed his own sadness. I am so glad for your Grandma. So glad you had her and so grateful for the woman she shaped. You had it tough, Jodi, really tough and it was that rock that kept you stable. I thank her and I’ll bet she hears me and all the others who are giving thanks because they love you and love what you give through your work and your blog. x

        Liked by 1 person

      • Some day I hope we can talk face to face about these things. I want to see your eyes and give you a hug when you talk about your beautiful bittersweet memories of your boy. I wonder why a hare? I wonder so many questions. But they will be saved for a heart to heart. I can’t imagine the grief, and I so greatly admire your the way your heart has come to deal with it and heal. You are amazing. I hope you and your daughter had a good healing time together too. Hugs.

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  2. Jodi, what a beautiful relationship you shared with your grandmother. Stella clearly meant a great deal to you & I suspect you inherited many of the wonderful traits you loved most about her.

    I too, have lost & dealt with loved ones suffering from the retched disease called alcoholism. It is heart breaking to feel so utterly helpless in helping them to overcome their addiction.

    Thank you for sharing this very personal piece. It touched me on so many levels.❤️

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  3. When you talk about your grandma I feel like I know her and in a way I do. I had a grandmother just like her and I love and miss her every day. Such a beautiful post Jodi! It was really heart-touching! I’m also so very sorry about your brother.

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  4. We both were blessed with the Grandmothers that we aspire to become. I will share a story from my dear Gram or “Miss Lydia” to everyone else that knew her. When I was but a child Gram’s last brother, my Great Uncle Dave (just “Uncle” to we children) left this earth. My younger sister was bereft, as she had followed him all over the farm on his appointed rounds holding tightly onto his hand. He had never spoken a word after being subjected to trauma in some unknown (to me) war. Yet, she chattered away to him constantly and considered him her best friend. What bothered her most about his death was never seeing Uncle again. She was not comforted by thoughts of him happy in Heaven. One evening as we all were with Gram on her sun porch watching the stars come out and my sister was crying for Uncle, my Gram gave her these words… “Each star that you see is a light from someone in Heaven, who we can no longer see here.” Of course, she asked which one was Uncle and Gram said “it’s to far away to be sure, but one of them is his light for us to see and know that he is okay.” She was comforted and looked for Uncle’s star every night for years.

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    • What wise and comforting words Gram healed your sister with! ☺️❤️. I’m quite sure you are the ultimate Gem, and Benjamin will be a better boy and man because of your love. I have no doubt about that. He is a lucky boy, and your are a lucky Gem!

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    • I was drawn back to your blog after reading your comment – and so glad I did! Your Christmas Miracle is such a beautiful story – and I now see why my grandma story was so special to you. Seems we were both blessed with special grandmas. Happy December birthday to your daughter! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

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  5. Such a sweet post – thanks for sharing your memories! My grandpa in Hungary also lost his finger in the lawn mower trying to remove stuck grass – I had to smile when I read this. I admire women like your grandma so much – it´s them who keep things going, and they wait nothing for it. They’re true heroes!

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  6. Your Stella Star was indeed a beaming smile, a light to guide you and look how you found a wonderful man who shares your life. You paid attention to her unspoken lessons, given in daily examples. Jodi, it was a mutual ove and respectful relationship. Both of you were so very lucky to have each other!
    I am saddened at your losses, but glad you had a shining star to light your way on earth and a bright, guiding Star in Heaven.
    My grandfather was extra special, but both my Mom and Dad were great and present in my life. I am like Fiona (“Osyth”) in that my Grandpa visits me daily as a cardinal. When I sent my story to “Guideposts” magazine they told me birds are *”winged messengers from God,” in some cultures and beliefs. As a Robin, I feel blessed for this knowledge. My Mom has liked a pair of mourning doves in her lake cottage, she moved to senior living, now memory care, but they represented her loving parents, whose father was my grandfather. . . 💞 I hope when you see the falling stars especially your Grandma comes to mind. Oh, I just know you think of her often, Jodi!! 🌟

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    • Oh Robin – how you have warmed my heart with the time you took to share this beautiful note. I cannot thank you enough for your kindness! I hope your mom continues to remember the mourning doves in some way. How difficult that is to deal with a parent in memory care. God Bless her! and YOU!

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      • I am glad I warmed your sweet, warm heart, Jodi. I just saw the possible way to mention how birds or other natural gifts may have someone we remember through ties and inexplicable meanings. I’m glad I didn’t sound too crazy! 😊
        Your Grandmother sounds like the best kind and I am so glad you had her and your Grandpa, too. 💞

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      • I have heard that of birds too. Especially cardinals. We have many at our house and feed them all as well as the squirrels. We surely delight in them.

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      • The birds are sure to be cheery presences in our lives. Their songs, little hops, wings beating and pretty appearances just are hard to not be happy while watching them. Squirrels and chipmunks are such little scamps and rascals, it is hard not to smile at them, too.
        I’m so glad you have feeders out, especially when it gets so bitter cold. I miss watching them from inside but I do go next door to the college campus and sit on a bench to watch. 🐿 🐦

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      • It is such a great joy! The snow is falling now and they are fluttering around the seed and suet. I used to laugh at my inlaws feeding and watching the birds thinking it was “old people” past times – LOL! – Now it is me! 🙂

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  7. Hi Jodi, I have been thinking of you and remembering the loss of your brother. ❤️ So sorry for your loss. Sending hugs!
    I enjoyed reading about your sweet grandma again. She sounds like a gem! I miss my Gram too! She always had a way to make me feel special. 😍

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