Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Great Grandma Helen


I'm writing to tell you about a wonderful woman who recently passed away.  Her name is Consuelo Garcia, (but we all called her Grandma Helen) and she was your Great Grandma - your Grandpa Mike's mommy.

A quick history lesson on her:  She was born in Mexico in 1918.  Her family immigrated to the United States when she was just a baby.  She grew up in the Carondelet area of South St. Louis, where she got married and had 3 sons - Uncle Richard (who lives in Seattle), Uncle Marc, and your Grandpa Mike.  

When I was little I thought Grandma Helen was so cool because she could speak Spanish.  She would sit for hours at her apartment talking to her friends on the phone in Spanish and I was just in awe.  I tried to emulate her but it just sounded like gibberish :)  Your Aunt Melissa and I loved to play on her olive green rotary phone pretending to make calls.  I can still hear the sound it made.  I remember us calling "time & temp" a lot (321-2522!) from that phone!

Grandma Helen always had sweets in her house - especially Neopolitan ice cream, chocolate covered graham cracker cookies, and soda.  I also remember her taking us grandkids to a place called Victoria's.  It doesn't exist anymore, but it was an ice cream place she took us to all the time, namely after dance recitals or other special events.  (Come to think of it, they probably sold regular food there too but we only went there for the ice cream!). 

Grandma Helen was as Catholic as they come.  Her apartment was littered with rosaries - she had so many!  I remember many Sundays and holidays at mass with Grandma Helen at St. Mary & Joe's in South City.  She was the kindest, most generous woman, always praying for others and doing the rosary.  

As Grandma got older, she moved out of her apartment and into a condo closer to your Grandpa Mike & Uncle Marc in South County.  Many more memories were created there as well.  I loved looking at all her old photos and books.  She loved to sit outside and look at the flowers and feed the birds.  I also remember baking with her - especially pound cake, one of her faves.  She was always reading - books, newspapers, magazines, prayer books, anything.  She loved to learn.  

I spent a couple summers (either in high school or college, I don't remember), helping out Grandma a couple days a week.  I would come over and sit with her, help her around the condo, and drive her and her lady friends around to run their errands.  It may sound lame, but it was actually really fun.  Older ladies are so funny!  We went places that all 80-something's go... Aldi's, Big Lots, & Wendy's come to mind off the top of my head!  And every Tuesday I took her to get her hair done :)  She was beautiful.  And the only 85-year-old woman that still had dark brown hair!  She refused to go gray.  

Grandma Helen gave us quite a few health scares over the years, but she always recovered.  She was absolutely the strongest woman in the world.  I'm sure the power of prayer and her sheer determination helped her get through a lot of things.  

She was very encouraging to us grandkids, always urging us to go for our dreams and try new things.  She always offered to help in any way she could, and loved to give us $2 bills.  I always thought that was strange, but I still have a few of them tucked away in a drawer :)

On the day your daddy and I got married in 2009, Grandma Helen was actually in the hospital.  But we weren't going to let that stop us from seeing her on our wedding day.  I most definitely traipsed into St. Anthony's hospital in my wedding dress and saw Grandma Helen!  She was 90 years old at the time, and that hospital stay was a particularly scary one.  But in true Grandma Helen fashion, she recovered and lived another 5 years.  And thank goodness for that because she was then able to see you girls be born.  I know for a fact seeing you girls (and her other great grandchildren) brought pure joy and happiness to the end of her life.  Whenever she would be at Grandpa's house and we would all barrel through the front door she would get the biggest smile on her face.  She always asked if she could "kiss your little hand", and she always complimented me on dressing you girls so cute.  It makes me sad that you most likely will not remember her, but trust in the fact she loved you very, very much and was always praying for you.  

Hailey, you had a little more time with Grandma Helen than your baby sister did.  Most of your life Grandma was in Riverview nursing home and we enjoyed visiting her there.  She always won little trinkets and stuffed animals at Bingo that she saved for you guys.  She also created some sweet little crafts and cards that I've saved for you.  I remember spring & summer days sitting on the back patio of the nursing home looking at the barges go down the river but her primary concern was always you - "Is it too hot outside for her?  Does she have a hat?  She needs a hat.  Michael, get my purse and go buy that baby a hat."  

Addison, you were only 4 months old when your Great Grandma passed away.  But she got to hold you and love on you many times in those 4 months.  I still have a voicemail from her from about a week before you were born and she said how eager she was to know if you'd been born yet and mentioned how fun it would be to see you and your big sister playing together.  I'm happy to know she was able to see you two together a few times before she passed.  

So, in conclusion of my mini-eulogy, I just want you two to know that you have an incredible angel in heaven who is surely watching over you and praying for you as we speak.  I love and miss her dearly, and it's only been 5 days.  If you ever have any questions about her, please come to me or your Grandpa (or anyone else in our family for that matter) and we'll be happy to tell you some stories.  

Here is your photo history with your sweet Great Grandma Helen:

Newborn Hailey - June 2011
3 month old Hailey - September 2011
Grandma scored you a beanie baby at bingo!

I love this picture.  Mommy & Great Grandma - Thanksgiving 2011
Christmas ornament hand crafted for Hailey - December 2011
6 months old
Great Grandma loves you so much!

Christmas 2011

Easter 2012
Mommy's 29th Birthday - May 2012
Mother's Day 2012
Love this.  Hailey's 1st Birthday - June 2012
Grandma, do you want some cake?
Giving Grandma her 94th Birthday card!  Uncle Richard & Aunt Sylvia in the background.  October 2012.
Pulling all the tissues out of Grandma's tissue box
Smooches for Hailey!  December 2012
Christmas Day 2012.  Grandma loved the handprint craft we made her.
Christmas 2012.  Grandma loved to hold your hand.
Sitting on the patio at the nursing home.  Note the stuffed dolphin bingo gift on the table for you :)
You picked some flowers for Grandma
Spring Day at the nursing home.  Almost 2 years old.
Showing Great Grandma the card you made her for her 95th birthday
October 2013 on Grandma's 95th birthday.  Mommy is very pregnant with Addison in this picture!
Happy Birthday!!
There you are, Miss Addison!  Great Grandma was so happy to hold you for the first time.  November 2013.

I love this series of pictures... they were playing this cute little hand game...

Great Grandma & Addison - Christmas Day 2013

These photos are the last we have with Great Grandma, just 5 days before she passed.  Still so strong! 

Love this so much.

Rest in Peace, Grandma.  We love you so much!

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