Friday, March 8, 2013

In Memory of Aunt Loyza

When my mom called this morning and said that Aunt Loyza passed away last night, I was slightly surprised (or at least as much so as you can be considering that she was nearly 93 years old). I knew that she hadn't been feeling great for a couple of months but the last I had heard, she was doing better. She was a fighter and I thought my spunky great-great aunt would live "forever." At the very least, I thought she would surpass the "record" set my great-grandpa, who lived to be 93 years and about four months. 

Aunt Loyza was my great-grandpa's little sister. I guess you could say she was little in more ways than one. Not only was she one day shy of being 15 years younger, but I'd guess I had bypassed her in height by the 4th grade. She more than made up for her lack of stature with her big personality and even bigger heart. With my great-grandpa gone since 1998, she was the last remaining sibling of that generation.

I know that when people reach their 80s and 90s that they're often prepared and ready to move on. I know that everyone who knew and loved Aunt Loyza can take comfort in the fact that she's now happily reunited with her husband, parents, siblings and countless other friends and relatives. I know that Aunt Loyza will be forever missed but never forgotten.

In memory of Aunt Loyza, I'd like to share a few memories.
  • My earliest recollection of Aunt Loyza consists of her reading books to me. This may seem like an ordinary event in every child's life but Aunt Loyza had a special way of reading that made the experience unique. She read me the book backwards. Throughout my childhood, the running gag would be that we would sign cards to each other by writing our names backwards. I became Ybba and she was Azyol Tnua.
  • When I was in elementary school, I visited Aunt Loyza at her house with my grandparents. I don't remember what the visit was specifically about but I do remember it being a dewy morning and I remember sifting flour. At the time, I had no idea what a sifter was (not sure I even know now). Wish I could piece together the pieces of this memory better.
  • In recent years, I've gotten to know Aunt Loyza better and I'm so thankful for that. When I lived in Seattle, I joined her at several Williams Family Picnics. It was always a blast to see what kind of tricks she had up her sleeve and the gifts, such as the bright blue leg warmers below, were always worth a laugh.
July 2006: Williams' Family Picnic 
July 2008: Williams' Family Picnic
July 2009: Williams' Family Picnic
July 2010: Williams' Family Picnic

July 2010: Williams' Family Picnic with all our goodies.

July 2010: Something must've been funny!
  • After I moved to San Diego, I stopped by to see her on my visits home. In the past year, I saw her both on my summer and Christmas trips and I'm incredibly happy that I made these visits a priority. As a huge history lover, I enjoyed listening to her stories of childhood during the Great Depression, working during World War II and more. You just never knew what would come out of her mouth next and she always had us laughing, often with a twinkle in her eye that let you know that she was in on the joke. 
  • Last summer, I visited on a rare warm Seattle day but Aunt Loyza was chilly and had kept a fire burning all day in her living room. Being a true San Diegan now, I found the 75-degree day to be slightly cool too and I didn't mind the additional heat.
July 2012: Visiting in the summer heat.
  • This past Christmas, my family stopped by to visit Aunt Loyza en route to Christmas Eve at my grandparent's house in Lake Stevens. While the visit was short, I'm so happy to have seen her one more time.
Christmas 2012: Family Photo

Christmas 2012: Aunt Loyza meets my pug, Emma

Christmas 2012: Hugs!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Grizzley: Hard to Believe It's Been Ten Years

Today marks the 10 year anniversary of the death of my beloved childhood dog, Grizzley. Even after an entire decade, I have a hard time believing that she's gone. While I may have added to my canine family with Zoe and Emma, I still think about Grizzley regularly and often mind myself comparing my two pups to her. I'd like to think that she's their guardian angel.

Grizzley with me and my brother on the day she joined our family.

Looking back, I should have realized that nearly 13-year-old Grizz was getting old and sick, but in my mind, she was the same adventurous pup that she had always been. I thought she would live forever...and the moment that I realized she was slipping away was the hardest experience of my life. 

Grizzley, me, Damon and Prancer in 2002
My parents were out of town for the weekend, leaving my brother and I home alone with Grizz and our cat, Prancer. It was a typical blustery March day in Washington and I remember letting Grizz out to go to the bathroom on Saturday afternoon. I can still picture her walking back up the driveway to me and coming inside for the last time. She curled up on her dog bed by the fireplace and I went to my room to read. 

A couple hours later, my brother knocked on my door and said, "Hurry, Grizzley is acting weird." I rushed to the living room and knelt next to my furry best friend. Her body was rigid but her eyes were responsive. I grabbed the cordless phone and frantically called my mom. I didn't know what was wrong or if we could help her in any way. In the short phone conversation, I realized that I had no choice but to say goodbye to the best dog that I had ever known. I watched as she took her last breath and I burst into tears. 

The next couple of hours were a blur. My mom contacted my grandparents and they drove the thirty minutes to pick us up for the weekend. There was no way that I could be alone. My other grandpa, who lived closer, came by to move Grizzley outside.

My parents returned on Sunday and I took Monday (and I think Tuesday) off from school. I spent most of those days crying. 

On Monday evening, as the grey sky drizzled and the daylight began to fade, we buried Grizzley on the side of the hill near our house. We made a cross and decorated the area with flowers. 

Ten years later, the memory still brings tears to my eyes. I guess you can never truly get over the loss of a great friend. 

I love you, Grizzley!

June 1990-March 1, 2003

Our last photo together, New Years Eve 2002