Ridiculously Epic…

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89 Years

on May 12, 2013

There have been about 1,001 topics that have crossed my mind the last couple weeks as to what I wanted to write my next blog about…our dog, the absurdity of  the wedding-beautification-prep trend, work, my future, etc…etc…etc…

But today as I looked through totes for a picture for my brother, I realized that there is something that has been weighing on my heart and mind. Something that is difficult to talk about, even though it’s been 3 1/2 months.

November 2012, taken by my great-aunt

November 2012, taken by my great-aunt

That is my great-grandmother, whom I’ve referred to as Mémè my whole life.

Mémè is short for mémère, Mémère is French for “grandmother.” Her husband, who passed away when I was 2 years old, was Pépè (short for “Pépère” which is French for “grandfather.”)

Mémè passed away on January 30, 2013. She was 89 years old, and had been diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic cancer in December 2012. June 21 of this year would have been her 90th birthday.

My Mémè was an incredibly special lady. She was kind, funny, generous, loving, and selfless. She was born in Canada, and had this adorable French accent when she spoke. One of the strangest, yet fondest, memories I have of her is that when you hugged her – her hearing aid would squeak and she would always ignore it just to keep hugging you (oftentimes accompanied by laughing on both ends about it).

I was her first great-granddaughter, and for 17 years – her only great-granddaughter. She had 4 children, 8 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren. The oldest is my brother who will be 29 this year, the youngest is 3 years old. To say that we were all lucky to have her in our lives is an understatement.

My Mémè was always with us growing up – she was almost always there for family trips, dinners, random get-togethers, and of course all the holidays and birthdays. Until recent years, she never forgot a birthday or anniversary – I still have every card she gave me. (Mémè had a cognitive memory disorder that affected her short-term memory).

Ernest and I took a trip to Vermont in June, and I am so glad he got a chance to meet her once before she passed. It was also the visit where my cousin got married, and Mémè was so funny at the reception. She loved sweets, and the favors were chocolate turtles made by my uncle – Mémè was collecting everyone’s treat who didn’t want them. By the time we left, she had at least 4 of them to take home with her and looked happier than a kid in a candy store.

About a month before she passed, I started a large 1/4 sleeve tattoo on my left bicep honoring my Mémè, great-Aunt Lynn, and maternal grandmother. Each lily represents each person, and the color corresponds to the cancer they battled. As an added touch, I had each person write the word “love” and had the tattoo artist incorporate it into the design. 

Phase One

Phase One

The finished product

The finished product

As much as my heart still hurts when I think about Mémè, as often as my eyes fill with tears, as much as I miss that quirky and wonderful woman – I will always carry her with me in my heart. There is a reminder every day as I see my beautiful tattoo of that wonderful woman. There is a reminder every day that I can be a better person, to strive to be more like my great-grandmother. She was one of the most amazing people I’ve ever known in my life, and I can only hope that I will be half as inspiring to my great-grandchildren as she was to me. .

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One response to “89 Years

  1. Julia says:

    Jessi, this is SO BEAUTIFUL!! I had forgotten about the hearing aid squeak! HAHAHAHA! Meme was the best, and all of our lives are so much better and richer for her having been in them. I love you!

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