Sunday, March 4, 2012

Stubborn as all hell

This week has been a rough one.  Wednesday night we got a phone call to rush to the hospital to say our last goodbyes to our grandmother.

Let me back the story up.  My grandmother is the only one we still had from both sides.  She's my mom's adoptive mother (is that the term?  I don't even know) and she was also my husband's grandmother's best friend.  Right after Thanksgiving of this past year my grandmother's health started going down the tubes.  When I was in high school she was diagnosed with melanoma and they were able to clear everything up.  Then she was hit with breast cancer and had to have a lumpectomy...I remember being seriously grossed out by the draining tube in her armpit but we all got through that.  Then she was in and out of the hospital at least once a year for severe pneumonia.  Finally they diagnosed her with COPD.  I guess it was expected since she had been a smoker up until the late 90s.

Well after Thanksgiving she was getting sick all of the time and was hospitalized at the beginning of December because there was blood in her lungs.  She was released on Christmas Eve but stuck wearing an oxygen mask.  Bob and I went to give her her Christmas present the week after and it was scary seeing her sitting in her chair with tubes up her nose.  This was so unlike my grandmother.  At 87 she was still feisty, living alone, making all of her meals, driving around town so it was difficult to see her so frail.

Last Sunday she was having a very difficult time breathing so her children decided that Monday they would bring her to her doctor and have her admitted to the hospital.  I didn't think anything different of her hospital trip this time around so I had no real intention of visiting her, knowing that she would be home again soon.  I was wrong

Wednesdays I usually tutor two different girls after school in Franklin Lakes/Wyckoff.  I had finished my  Algebra 2 session and was an hour and a half into my Geometry student when my phone continued to go off.  I had three missed calls.  One from my parents, one from my sister, and one from Bob.  I knew something was up so I excused myself for the call and sure enough we had gotten the emergency call to say our last goodbyes.  It was insane.  I couldn't understand how she had gone from driving herself around town to curled up in a hospital bed, unable to speak, with tubes all over and needles in each arm. As soon as we got in the room I started balling my eyes out.  Grandma and I had a love/hate relationship and every bad thing I had ever said to her and every bad feeling I had ever had toward her came rushing in.  I felt a tremendous amount of guilt for our relationship and wanted to go back and change every minute of it...but I couldn't.

That night was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.  Grandma couldn't speak.  She was pretty heavily sedated and had a very hard time focusing on our faces and voices.  She kept trying to talk but no words would come out.  We tried to give her a pen to write but everything that flowed from her fingers was illegible.  We wrote out the alphabet so she could point to the letters to spell out words but she would get distracted or feel a pain and need to be repositioned or covered in a blanket.

I knew, touching her face, that she could feel how loved she was even though I was never good at showing that sort of thing.  Just having her whole family there with her, in one room, was enough to keep her going for three more days.  Every day I would call my parents to find out if she was getting moved out of critical care, when she would be able to come home, if she was speaking again and it was such a rollercoaster of news.  Thursday she was breathing with just the small oxygen tubes vs. an oxygen helmet.  Her blood sugar had stabilized and things were looking up.  Friday she was back in the huge oxygen mask and not going to the bathroom at all.

Saturday morning I got the phone call from my mom saying Grandma passed away at 2am.  I lost it.  I was going to go back to the hospital after class on Saturday because I had promised we'd go back and still hadn't and she was gone.  It was too late.  I made the decision to go to class anyway to keep my mind off of things because I knew I would be of no help.  Part of my class required us to log in to different social networking sites to see how we could incorporate them into our teaching and I noticed my sister had posted pictures from growing up with grandma on facebook.  I lost it again.

Though we have lost plenty of people close to us, grandma's the first one that I'm old enough to remember making this especially hard.

Thank you everyone who have offered condolences and prayers.  It's been rough and this coming week is only going to be harder between her memorial and church services.  She was a tough old broad...stubborn til the end.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Party Time!

This is one of my favorite pictures from the whole night.

The parents looking on as we started our first dance.

Bob and I danced to Ben Folds "The Luckiest".  He and I used to take dance lessons with another couple and so we called up our dance instructor and he came over for a private lesson right before the wedding so we knew exactly what style to use for our song.

Hamming it up, of course!
Dad and I chose to dance to a different kind of song.  I'm hoping to have the video of it up soon.
We danced to The Talking Heads "Road to Nowhere".  The song starts out slow and then gets nice and fast so we did a modified swing dance, since my dad has bad knees.  He made it through the dance but had to go to the doctors when he got home from our wedding because he destroyed his knees :(

For the longest time, Bob's mom claimed that when he was little he heard a song and told his mom that that's what they would dance to at his wedding.  For months she wouldn't tell him what the song was and he started to really stress out about it.  

As we were getting ready to cut the cake, our attendant asked us if we were going to smush it in each other's faces.  We told him that we decided against us and he shared with us his story from his own wedding.

Instead of smashing cake into his beloved's face, they nailed their maid of honor and best we took a page from their book.

Of course Heather's speech made me cry.  Isn't that their purpose?
And Todd's best man speech was funny but tasteful.

Because it was a beer themed wedding, Bob and I toasted using the 2011 Infinium, a champagney beer from Sam Adams.  Big thanks to our friend, writer and beer blogger, John Holl for the advanced bottle of Infinium.  What's that?  The 2011 hadn't been released yet for our wedding...yea, I know.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Get down with your bad self!

As I've mentioned, Bob and I had a beer themed wedding.  We knew that we wanted to incorporate hops into the boutonnieres and bouquets so we pitched the idea to our florist and she was certain she could get them.  Just in case, Bob made sure this year's crop of hops were growing nicely in our yard, in the event that we needed them.

Well, we needed them.  The week before our wedding Bob placed a call to our florist before cutting down the hops to use in his beer.  She completely forgot to call to tell us that she couldn't get them from her supplier for our wedding two days before our wedding, Bob cut them down, boxed them up, and I drove them out to Allentown to be used like we wanted.  It was neat to say that they were OUR hops fresh from our garden.
Bob brewed three different beers for our wedding: a stout, a honey-hibiscus wit, and his signature IPA.  Because they're so delicious, we knew we had to remind the guests to only take one bottle.  We brought extras but really wanted to keep it to one per guest (though I later found out my grandma took 3).

Putting the labels on the bottles was my job the day before the wedding...nothing like working until the last minute.
Keeping with the beer theme, we gave each table the name of one of our favorite microbreweries. 
 Each escort card had the matching bottle cap.
Just so there was no confusion, we mapped out the room for our guests with the corresponding bottle cap on their table.  This way you knew the general area of your table and could find your seat more easily.
We were originally going to make a coffee table book with write ups of our favorite beers/breweries but it became too much work.  One day when I was perusing the usual wedding blogs I saw a coupon for 50% off a thumbprint guestbook.  With this company, you send a picture of the two of you and choose your colors.  They use your photo to create a caricature.  We had the photo matted with the intent of signatures going there and thumbprints lining the you can see, that didn't happen.  This picture is currently hanging in our dining room.
I knew I wanted to make something to decorate our cake table and found a wooden cutout of a man and a woman and the I Do letters.  I made our characters like like us to the best of my ability, knowing how I would wear my hair and what color Bob's bow tie would be.
We wanted a simple design for our cake and knew we wanted fresh flowers on the top.  Our baker used a coppery ribbon to help tie the colors all together.  We went with a vanilla cake with mocha hazelnut ganache with little pieces of hazelnut in it and butter cream frosting.  It was so delicious and I'm looking forward to our anniversary to eat the top.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Formal Pictures and The Big Send Off

On the big day we only buffered in 20 minutes for formal pictures because we didn't want our guests waiting forever for us to exit the chapel.  We had a strict list and a game plan to get everyone in and out.

We left Scotty and Bryda in charge of getting the grandma's pictures done first and scooting them out of the chapel because they required assistance.

Both families together because we really are one big happy family :)
The only thing that put a damper on our wedding parade was the heat.  The chapel is not equipped with air conditioning and it turned out to be a pretty hot day.  This was the main reason for making programs that also working as fans for our guests.  Thankfully, there were fans up on the altar pointed at us so we stayed pretty cool for the ceremony...but here we look sweaty.

This progression is one of my favorite sets of pictures.  We opted to do a bubble send-off and purchased our bubbles on sale from Michaels right after we got engaged.  It was $10 for 100 bubbles and we had 116 guests at our wedding so it worked out nicely because some people weren't able to come to the chapel.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Rites of Marriage

We got a kick out of having our Jewish friend do a reading at our Catholic wedding, but Rissa did a fantastic job and no one would have even known.  We had Marissa read Song of Songs 2:8-10, 14, 16a; 8;6-7a.

Scotty did a reading from the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians.  This is probably one of the most well known verses for weddings but that wasn't the part that spoke to us "Love is patient, Love is kind, etc" so we consulted with our priest and were given the ok to take that part out.  We felt that so many people get caught up in that verse because it is commonly used for weddings but the rest of the reading rings just as true.  Love never fails.
Bryda read our prayer of the faithful.
The mamas did the presentation of gifts....they were very nervous about tripping down the aisle.

What most people don't realize is that you are pronounced man and wife in the middle of the ceremony.  This does not signify the ending of the service but you're still free to clap and get excited when that becomes official.
We read traditional vows in the repeat after me style.  Father Mac started them off for Bob and when Bob didn't seem to be able to get it out, Father Mac repeated them again.  Bob was just a little choked up and couldn't get the words out....I started balling like a baby.
We decided that only the two of us and our matron of honor/best man would receive both the host and wine.  It was a little awkward when the rest of the chapel came up to receive.  I wasn't sure if it was ok to watch or if I should continue to look forward.
Our final kiss before heading down the aisle :)

The Ceremony - Processional

Bob and his best man Todd waiting for the procession to start.
Scotty Doo walking my grandma down the aisle.

Bryda walking Bob's grandma down the aisle.

Mama and Papa O
My brother-in-law Alec walking the m-dukes down the aisle.
Kevin and Kate

Dave and Lizzie
Heather, my matron of honor!
And the moment everyone was waiting for.....

I am my father's daughter -- we have the same look on our faces.