Friday, March 29, 2013

Grandma Celia

Celia Mae Olbrich

This is my grandma {Olbrich}. She passed away on Feb 23, 2013. It came on suddenly, after she had a kidney infection that quickly turned to renal failure. Renal failure also took my grandfather {Laue} in 2009.

 January 25, 2013 was the last time I saw her, and the first time she met Gavin. This picture is very special to me now.

I truly thought that Grandma would live to be 100. She suffered a severe stroke 18 years ago, and started to suffer from dementia and alheimers in recent years. While she may not have always been "with it", she still knew who I was, and about my family. I came across a diary of hers while we were organizing her things. She was writing a note to a friend about how excited she was to get another great-grandchild around Christmas. I sometimes forgot how much we all meant to her, and it was very evident in her diaries and letters to family and friends.

While it was very sad, we knew that Grandma was finally at peace. She had been struggling more in the last year or so, and after living in assisted living for the past 12 years or so, she was in pain.

The kids and I went to Minnesota to be with family. I wanted to be there for my mom, and to help with what I could. There would be family coming in for the services from 6 states, my mom met some cousins she had never met before, and I got to see family we don't see often.

My Uncle Dave and family from California, whom I lived with for a summer to do an internship.

My great-aunt Cassie {Grandma's little sister} who lives in Atlanta;

My great-aunt Midge {Grandpa's little sister} who lives in IL and her daughter {my mom's cousin} Chris.

We spent a lot of quality time with family that week. It actually was supposed to be my first week back at work, but they were gracious enough to move my return date back a week. Tony stayed in Iowa for a few days to wrap up some things, and then joined us mid-week. I am forever grateful that he is so supportive of me. 

Family pictures after the service celebrating Grandma's life.
My grandpa with his kids and spouses. 

The Whitt cousins. {My mom's maternal side first cousins} and dad's hand photo-bombing.

Olbrich cousins :: all the grandkids
The great grand-kids with Grandma's kermit collection. 

I have had a jewelry set that my grandma had given me years ago, that is very special to me. It is a beautiful gold and black onyx necklace with matching earrings. My cousin AJ even wore them when she was my maid of honor at our wedding. I knew right away that I wanted to wear them to her service, and told my mom that we should go through Grandma's jewelry, and each pick a piece to wear to the visitation and funeral. This turned into us cleaning and organizing all her jewlery, and reminiscing over memories of Grandma. Grandpa sat with us, and told us he had no idea that Grandma had so many pieces. 

My grandma's sister used to deal antiques, and had worked in a jewelry store in years past. She was a great resource on where each piece came from, and what it's story was. There were pieces from my Grandpa, from his brother that he brought back from his time in Italy, and lots of fabulous costume jewlery. 

My mom with her grandaughters looking at the jewelry

There was a really interesting ring that was made out of clear plexiglass with Grandma's monogram on it. Come to find out her father worked in a factory during WWII that made the windshields in the B-25 bombers while they lived in Kansas City. The ring is made from the plexiglass material used in the planes. I wish I had gotten a picture of it. {Carol, can you send me one?} 

It was great that each of us girls got to wear something of Grandma's that week. I know Grandma would have loved that. 

My Aunt Cassie filled us in on more family history, and had brought pictures and quilts with her. My grandma was a great seamstress, and quilter. One of my favorite wedding presents was a quilt that my Aunt Cassie sent me that was started by my Grandma's grandmother, and each generation had worked on it since. She included a history of the fabric pieces and each woman in my family who had worked on it. We diplayed some of Grandma's quilts and little collectible sewing machines at her service. 

Suffice it to say, Grandma was one interesting lady. She had a life long passion for sewing and quilting. She even owned her own little shop for sewing and dressmaking at one time. 

She kept in touch with friends and family from all over the US. She made time to go and visit them too. Many times she took one of her grandchildren with on her visits. I remember going to New Mexico with her when I was really little to visit her brother. We went with her to Missouri a few times to see her family. Her cousins drove 6 hours one way just to come to her visitation, only to turn around and drive back home that night. I am glad I got the chance to meet and visit with them. Turns out I don't live too far from them now.

She told me at one time that she would brag to her friends in high school that she was dating a Harvard Man. She had met my grandpa while she attended Harvard IL high school, and had soon after moved to Chicago. She later returned to Harvard, lived with a dear friend, graduated high school, and married my grandfather a few months after graduation. They were married for 62 years. 

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