Tag Archives: G.G.

A Tribute to a Life Well-Lived

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This week was a sad one at Patchwork Farm, as we mourned the passing of my grandmother, affectionately dubbed G.G. by her great grandchildren.

It was just last year we were celebrating her 90th birthday in style, as family flew in from all corners of the country.

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It was at that celebration that we gifted G.G. with a scrapbook of photos and letters from family and friends. It was a tribute to a life well lived, allowing her to read the words of loved penned by the many lives she touched.

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Her death came quickly and unexpectedly, which might not make sense given her age, but G.G. has always had a bigger-than-life presence, and it felt as though death would never be able to catch her. Despite her age, her death came as a shock, and the accompanying grief has hit me hard. Her death represented the end of an era, and a closing of my childhood. She was the last of that generation of family. Preceded in death by other great aunts and uncles, my paternal grandfather, and my maternal grandmother and grandfather, she was my last living grandparent.

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I find my heart is aching with this loss.

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G.G. leaves behind her a legacy of love and life lived to the max. From the time I was small, G.G. represented fun. Knowing that she and my grandfather were coming for a visit meant a great adventure was on its way. Life was a party when G.G. was visiting. Daily routines were pushed aside to make room for crafts, day trips, and happy hour.

My childhood memories of visiting her home are some of my greatest childhood treasures.

Here are some of the lessons I learned from G.G.:

From G.G. I learned to love learning. She never tired of acquiring knowledge. She was an avid reader, a lifelong traveler, and never shied away from the newest technology or clever gadgets. She traveled the world with my grandfather’s job, but even after retirement she enjoyed exploring, traveling and seeking out new adventures.

From G.G. I learned the joy of feeding those I love. G.G. was an amazing cook. She appreciated the art of cooking and the delight of good food. Visiting G.G. always meant we’d be fed well. Some of my happiest memories are sitting at her kitchen island watching the women of the household prepare meal after meal for a holiday houseful. The kitchen was always the noisiest and most lively room in the house and usually ended up being the gathering place when G.G. was cooking.

From G.G. I learned the joy of creating. She was incredibly gifted, especially in the area of sewing and quilting. It seemed she was always in the midst of a project and always learning a new artform (that she then soon perfected!) Those she loved benefited from her love of creating beautiful things. In addition to the matching Christmas stockings she sewed for each member of the family, our homes are filled with her creations… from handmade dolls to quilted wall hangings.

From G.G. I learned the value of family. G.G. was fiercely independent and quite happy to be at home and busy working on her own projects, but she loved when family gathered. I have so many happy memories of summer visits to Aunt Marsha and Aunt Gretchen’s cabins on the water, where family would gather. Adults would sit around talking and laughing while the kids ran free. I have so many sweet memories from Christmases spent in Rome, NY and in later years, gatherings at the Homestead. I think that was her favorite thing about her final move to Ohio. She was close to family. She loved when we would all get together for a day of shopping and lunch in Wooster, or a summer cook-out in the barn.

And from G.G. I learned the art of having fun. G.G. was a walking, talking party. Wherever she went, the fun followed. Visits to G.G.’s house offered the promise of happy hour in the late afternoon, when chip and dip were set out on the table, Manhattans were poured, and the kids each got a Shirly Temple with a cherry. Visits with G.G. meant late nights, lots of laughter, and always an impromptu adventure, or two!

Hers was a life well lived, and her absence will be felt by many. How grateful I am to have been blessed by her example and her love. I look forward to the reunion we will enjoy someday. It will be quite the party in Heaven. Talk about the ultimate “happy hour!”

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Ann Harmon Real
(1929 –  2020)
On June 20, 2020, Ann H. Real entered into life eternal at her home in Danbury Senior Living, Wooster, OH of natural causes. 

Ann was born on June 14, 1929 in Albany, NY to parents Guy and Nellie (Overacker) Harmon.  On June 19, 1948, she and Dennis A. Real were married.  Ann lived in many places throughout the United States, including Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Panama, New York, Washington, Maine, Michigan, Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Jersey, and Florida.  She made a wonderful home for husband and children wherever they went. 

Ann enjoyed life, laughter and gathering with family and friends.  She had a great sense of humor and an energetic spirit.  She was insatiably curious and therefore a lifelong learner.  She loved people, putting everyone she met at ease with her friendliness.  A talented seamstress, she made beautiful quilts which she shared generously with others.  She enjoyed playing bridge with her group at Danbury.

Retiring to Rome, New York, she moved to Leesburg Florida upon Dennis’s death.  Her final move was to Wooster, Ohio where she lived at Danbury Senior Living where she was shown great love and care and was a member of St. Marys’ Catholic Church.

Ann was preceded in death by her parents, her husband and her sister.  She is survived by her two daughters, Denise Real (Jack Duggan), Jill (Paul) Janke, and her two sons, Michael (Nancy) Real and Andrew Real (Jane Wilson). She is further survived by 9 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild on the way.

The family would like to extend its appreciation to Life Care Hospice for their support and care during this period of loss. They are also thankful to those at Danbury Senior Living for the loving kindness they freely gave to her. 

9 Decades of Life!

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In my life I have been incredibly blessed to be surrounded by women of character and of influence. These women are responsible for a wonderful and magical childhood, but are also largely responsible for the woman I am today.

At their knees I learned the most important of life lessons.

I learned how to love, how to serve, and how to care for my family.

I learned the importance of creating memories and carving out time for fun.

I learned that laughter is one of the greatest antidotes to hard days and that hard work pays dividends.

I learned that life is a grand adventure, and when it comes to the twists and turns on the road of life, we can either fruitlessly resist or lean into the bends and enjoy the ride.

I learned that there is something to be learned from every experience and every person we encounter in our travels.

I learned that family is everything, and as long as you have that you will always feel wealthy.

One of the greatest influences in my life has been my father’s mother, whom I refer to often in the blog as G.G.

G.G. just recently moved closer when in October she sold her home in Florida to move closer to my parents in Wooster, Ohio. Although the craziness of life has kept us from visiting as often as we’d like, we are so grateful to have her close by and a regular fixture at all our family gatherings at the Homestead.

This month was a big one for G.G. as she celebrated her 90th trip around the sun. As vibrant and fun as ever, I can only hope to live my life as well as she has.

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In honor of her big day, plans were in the works months prior to plan a celebration worthy of the birthday girl. My parents, along with my Dad’s three siblings and their spouses, made plans to celebrate this milestone birthday in style.

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The plan was for everyone (Andy/Jane, Denise/Jack, Jill/Paul, Marty/Fran, and my sister Kelly) to come into town for a week of reunion fun with the planned activities coming to a peak on Thursday night with a celebratory birthday dinner at the Olde Jaol Restaurant.

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Prior to the birthday party I was recruited to take on the task of creating a scrapbook for the birthday girl. Months prior to the event I began the project by sending out letters to friends and family requesting birthday letters for grandma. The letters came rolling in and I had a blast reading the memories recorded by all those who love her and whose lives have been touched by hers.

My own sweet memories of her loving traditions that helped mold for me a magical childhood were echoed in the letters from others. I found as I compiled the scrapbook, my love, admiration, and appreciation for my grandmother grew even more, and it was a joyful project to undertake.

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Last Thursday was the big day.

Following a shortened day at work, Toby arrived home with enough time to change before we made the 2.5 hour drive to Wooster, Ohio. There we joined family for G.G.’s 90th birthday dinner at Olde Jaol Resturant.

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This historic gem, located in downtown Wooster, was a perfect place to have such a special birthday celebration. The restaurant, converted from the old city jail, offered a charming atmosphere to compliment a delicious meal…probably the best food I have ever eaten!

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There we were joined by my parents, out-of-town family,

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And of course the birthday girl, who thanks to gifts from Jane and Andy’s puppies, was decked out for the occasion in “90th birthday” bling.

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That evening we enjoyed an amazing meal and even more amazing company as we gathered together to celebrate the life of a woman whose life has touched so many for the better.

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Gifts were given with loving consideration and each gift was an expression of love.

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Then we presented G.G. with the gift from the entire family…the compilation of love letters from friends and family near and far. As she read through the memories that had been penned, it was a confirmation of the impact one soul can have on the world.

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So often we move through this life doing the best we can, wondering if our feeble attempts are making any difference at all. It is easy to become focused on our failures or the struggles that dot our existance, and we lose sight of the big picture and the trail of blessings we leave in our wake…

Blessings that make this world a brighter and better place because we are in it.

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The scrapbook of letters served as a testament to the impact one person can have.

What a life G.G. has led these last 90 years!

How blessed we all are to be a part of that life!

 

Games, Games, and more Games with G.G!

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There is someone we deeply love..

We call her G.G.

This past week we had the joy of being able to get all 10 of G.G.’s great grandchildren together for a very special reunion. This is the first time we have been able to coordinate schedules, since the addition of Charlie and Ozzie to our families, for a reunion with Grandma with all the great grandkids.

What a special day it was!

When we arrived Mimi and Pop Pop were picking up lunch, so we had some one on one time with G.G. We gathered the kids (before everyone scattered) to get a Great Grandma picture. What a joy it was to see G.G. with all her great grandkids. What a beautiful legacy!

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The day at the Homestead was filled with Fun, Fun, and more FUN, as we celebrated some birthdays, had a picnic lunch, and played many games.

The morning began with some impromptu yard games as the kids waited for Mimi and Pop Pop to return. They had foot races, three-legged races, enjoyed the rope swing, and played in the sandbox with the babies.

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Rusty and Nate, do I see some cheating going on?

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After a while Lydia pulled out her recent purchase: Ban Boozled, which the kids thoroughly enjoyed playing!

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Bean Boozled is game of risk which involved tasting different jelly beans, not knowing what flavor you might get. Each color of jelly bean could be one of two flavors: a tasty treat or a really nasty flavor!

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You spin the game spinner and pick the jelly bean that matches the color the spinner lands on. Some of the kids lucked out and got to enjoy a tasty jelly bean flavor…

Some did not!

Here is what it looks like when you bite down on a skunk spray, booger, or a moldy cheese jelly bean:

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Miss Lydia was so kind to share her game, although I’m not sure the kids felt the same way!

Noah eating a baby wipes flavored jelly bean.

Noah eating a baby wipes flavored jelly bean.

Ozzie NOT enjoying a moldy cheese flavored jelly bean...UGH!

Ozzie NOT enjoying a moldy cheese flavored jelly bean…UGH!

I think this was an example of a time when it was more fun to be a spectator to a game of chance than a participant!  😉

For lunch we enjoyed a picnic outside. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect. The sun was shining but the temperature was just cool enough to make it comfortable.

After lunch we had our birthday celebrations for our three August birthday kids. Tyler, Lydia, and Noah all celebrate their birthdays this week so we had a combined birthday party for them.

They took turns opening their gifts.

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From Mimi and Pop Pop Tyler received a zombie action figure that, as he shoots it, body parts fall off. The goal is to bring down the zombie before it reaches you. They couldn’t have picked a better gift for a nine-year-old boy!

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Pop Pop showing Tyler how it's done!

Pop Pop showing Tyler how it’s done!

Then it was time for cake:

Tyler and Lydia: The Bobbsey Twins :) They are cousins through adoption, with no shared genetics, and yet they look like twins...Crazy!

Tyler and Lydia: The Bobbsey Twins 🙂 They are cousins through adoption, with no shared genetics, and yet they look like twins…Crazy!

After lunch and cake they kids went out into the yard to have fun with the rocket balloons G.G. brought for them. Other than a few tears by the little ones over multiple popped balloons, the rocket balloons were a huge hit!

Ready...set...release!

Ready…set…release!

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In the afternoon we pulled out the supplies for our “Minute to Win It” game. I had volunteered to plan a group game and decided that since it had been a while since we had a “Minute to Win It” battle, it was time…

Time for some friendly, SILLY, family competition. We split the family into two teams with Sammy and Nate being the team captains. They chose their teams a member at a time, with Nate choosing most of the kids and Sammy choosing mostly adults. We had eight different challenges planned. For each challenge the teams picked one of their players to compete. Here are a look at some of the silly battles that ensued:

Sammy having to transfer cotton balls from one bowl to another using the dab of Vasaline on his nose.

Sammy having to transfer cotton balls from one bowl to another using the dab of Vaseline on his nose.

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Mummy Wrap!

Unicorn challenge in which Grace and Kelly had to stack cookies 7 high on their forehead without letting them fall.

Unicorn challenge in which Grace and Kelly had to stack cookies 7 high on their forehead without letting them fall.

The M&M challenge was a hit. Tyler was a pro at moving those M&Ms one at a time, from one bowl to the other, using only lung power and a straw.

The M&M challenge was a hit. Tyler was a pro at moving those M&Ms one at a time, from one bowl to the other, using only lung power and a straw.

My favorite challenge of the day was elephant walk in which Dad and Lydia put on their trunks (pantyhose with weights at the end) and had to knock over a line of water bottles.

My favorite challenge of the day was elephant walk in which Dad and Lydia put on their trunks (pantyhose with weights at the end) and had to knock over a line of water bottles.

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And of course what “Minute to Win It” competition would be complete without “Cookie Face.” The kids had to place a cookie on their forehead, and using only their face muscles, they had to move the cookie to their mouth. This one was a hoot to watch!

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IMG_9513 (2)The day ended with chip and dip and visiting in the evening and by 7:30pm it was time to get on the road. What a perfect day with family. It was wonderful being all together and letting the kids make some special memories with their great grandma.

We loaded all 10 kids in the car for the 2 1/2 hour drive home, and rode off into the sunset. 🙂

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What a blessing it was to be able to fit everyone in our new van: 2 adults and 10 kids. Love it!

Stay tuned for more cousin adventures!