Wedding Day 1942
1957- I don't have one with Maura or with Richard not hiding
I have lost a lot of important people in my life. That's in part the consequence of the blessing of having a lot of important people in my life in the first place. All that death has taught me to appreciate people while they're still here. My heart rests easy this time, because I visited Grandma Catherine frequently and always treated her with respect.
Grandma Catherine was my dad's mother, and I met her for the first time probably when I was six. I think at that time, she might have had some vague idea that I was Mexican. (I am not.) I spoke English, but my Spanish accent was thick, and my vocabulary was extremely limited. Suffice to say, it took a while to get to know each other. But she and Grandpa Jim still lived in Ridgewood, NJ back then, so occasionally she'd pick me up from school and bring me back to her place. I'd chase around Max their dachshund (fabled to eat rocks). And sometimes I'd sleep in Aunt Maura's old bedroom-- I remember I loved the wallpaper in that room because it seemed so girly. I still love wallpaper in general.
Back then, Thanksgiving was new because my Cuban family never celebrated the holiday. So every Thanksgiving meant dad's family and Grandma Catherine's cooking. She'd meticulously plan each meal, and when she sat down at Thanksgiving dinner, she'd immediately start talking about what we'd have for breakfast the next morning (inevitably French toast). And we'd look forward to the next day's turkey sandwiches. I still have happy memories of the Thanksgiving that Uncle Richard and Uncle Nick (Bob) smooshed together all their sides mostly gross out my mom and delight me.
Thanksgiving, it was always tough to get Grandma Catherine to sit
Since the whole family got together at Thanksgiving we did Christmas presents then too, and since there were so many people we did secret Santa. Uncle Kevin used to get me the best books even when he didn't draw our family. I still remember the illustrated children's Encyclopedia I pored over for years. (Who knows how much I owe to him and that one gift?)
Christmas in November
Here's one of my favorite pictures of Grandma Catherine- she looks amazing and happy. It's Richard and Elaine's family engagement party (I think) and my mom took her to buy that outfit. You can tell she knows she looks good.
Richard and Elaine's Engagement Party, 1989
Grandma Catherine met us in Disney in 1990
After Grandma Catherine and Grandpa Jim moved from New Jersey to Cape Cod, and after Graham was was born, Thanksgivings moved to the Cape. She was overjoyed when her other three grandkids were born.
Grandma Catherine and Grandpa Jim were at my 8th grade, high school, and college graduations.
Grandma C reading to Griffin 2000
Grandma C and Griffin, Thanksgiving 2003
Then Kevin and I started dating and he had family in the Cape too, so we started going even more frequently. Grandma Catherine instantly liked him when she met him. She had good taste. This is also around the time she started talking to me like an adult and I discovered she had - in Massachusetts parlance- a wicked sense of humor.
Visiting with Kevin during Christmas Week 2007
Surprise Cape Cod family bridal shower 2009
Our Irish grandmas- Ruth and Catherine 2009
Grandma Catherine had a blast at my wedding. There are pictures and video to prove it.
Shute family at cocktail hour- missing Maura but she's two pictures below
Dancing like crazy during the reception at 89 years old
Almost the whole family- set up the timer 2009
My dad looked a lot like Catherine, and after he passed away I searched for him in her face. Unlike my dad, Grandma Catherine was able to meet both the kids. She met Miranda in June, and we saw her again a few weeks ago after Thanksgiving. There was really nothing else I could have asked for, except for Graham, Rachel, and Griffin to have her a little longer.
Feeding James at 2 months old 2011
With Kevin and James in 2012
Meeting Miranda 2014