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Out Loud: A column by Laura Colvin

A blessing counted

August 18, 2010 - The pictures rolled across the screen one after another.

Over and over, the memorial movie my sister made for Grandma's funeral transported us back to a different time, triggered a memory, tugged on an already-taut heartstring or, once again, pushed open the floodgates.

My grandson, me, and Grandma. (click for larger version)
I can't believe she's gone. I loved her so much.

So we watched as the pictures - so many pictures - taken over the span of Grandma's 94-year-long lifetime - played over and over.

The click of a shutter, a moment frozen in time.

Click. Grandma, 9-years-old, standing next to her sister Eva, 11, as they made their first communion in 1925. Eva died just 9 years later, and Grandma always looked out for the infant son she left behind. He adored her. We all did.

Click. Grandma in her 20s, stylish and pretty, posing with her girlfriends. Click. Grandma with her mother, who she loved so much and lost too soon. Click. Grandma with Grandpa, young and in love.

Click, click, click. Grandma at Sweetest Heart of Mary Catholic Church in downtown Detroit on her wedding day in 1940.

At the reception, her father - a Polish immigrant who wore a tuxedo that day for the first time - danced the Polka with somebody named Uncle Lawrence. I guess he was feeling dapper.

Grandma had a million stories, and I count myself lucky to know most of them.

Click. Grandma with her firstborn as an infant. Click. Grandma with her firstborn, who's clad in his brand-new U.S. Navy uniform. He's smiling. She looks worried.

Click. Grandma at the train station, at the beach, on top of a haystack at somebody's farm.

Click. Grandma holding my dad - who often shows up in photos with a mischievous little grin glued across his face.

My dad gave Grandma and Grandpa a run for their money when he was young. He and his band practiced in the basement, and one time he took the family car and headed for California to visit Grandma's sister. Only they forgot to ask.

I love that story. It hurt to see my dad standing with hunched shoulders, alone at her casket. He adored her. We all did.

Click. Grandma in her 60s, 70s and 80s, cheek to cheek with one of us grandkids (or two or three or four, or five or all 11), in a smiling pile around her. She loved us all and we knew it. We all loved her right back.

I've never known a world without her.

Grandma took me to church when I was a little girl, taught me to dip the fingers on my right hand into the font and make the sign of the cross.

She taught me to thread a needle and sew on a button. One whiff of fresh dill still transports me right back to Grandma's "too-doggone-small" kitchen.

She took me shopping for school clothes every fall. When Nike gym shoes were a must-have for any self-respecting fifth-grader, Grandma splurged to buy me a pair, even though plenty of less expensive pairs sat waiting on the shelf at TJ Maxx (Grandma never did outgrow her depression-era frugality).

I could always talk to Grandma, always trust her with a secret. When I grew up, she stood beside me and supported me, no matter what.

She was good and wholesome. And she was fun. My favorite picture of Grandma shows her in the throes of screaming laughter as Grandpa showed her the Man-T-Hose he got as a gag gift from his buddy at a surprise birthday party. She had a great sense of humor.

Click. Grandma, me and my grandson - her great-great grandson - Ryan, a photo representing five generations.

It's the last photo I have with her.

Last week, after a 13-year until-death-do-us-part separation, Grandpa came to meet Grandma.

She said his name. She saw him in the room, and that's my solace. That's my comfort in losing her, because as much as Grandma loved all of us, Grandpa was her soul mate, her other half, the man who was still calling her his beautiful bride more than five decades after they married.

So even through this aching, I know she was ready. Mostly, I know without a doubt, that I was lucky - truly blessed - to have Julia Mary Bauman as my Grandma.

Lake Orion Review Editor
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