Well it was a beatiful service, both the viewing and the mass/burial for my Grandma Ellen. All of it was was emotionally difficult. Not to mention I had little sleep after barely making it to the east coast in time for the services on Thursday afternoon. Thank goodness for Jason and my brother John for helping me get there.
On the evening of the viewing there were pictures everywhere of Grandma, showcasing the extraordinary long life she had. She loved the water, she loved her gardens and birds. She loved her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. My sister and I worked on putting together a memory board (Alexa) and myself putting together a power point that I displayed at the funeral home with pictures of the grandchildren.
As we arrived early to pay our respects on Thursday, Jason held my hand as I tried to collect myself and approach the coffin. It was so difficult. Once I saw her I smiled despite my tears. She looked so peaceful. Her nails, her hair, her makeup, her outfit…looked amazing. She would always worry about these things before going anywhere. Her make up and her lipstick especially. It was nice to see old neighbors, cousins, distant relatives, and friends at the service who had not seen me in ages. I was happy to see them and they wanted to know what I had been doing where I was going. I tried to stay away from the coffin. My mom I was so proud of her, she received everyone as they came up to the coffin, calmly, with a smile on her face. She looked so graceful, so beautiful. I couldn’t imagine how she did it.
My father did an amazing eulogy that evening and I watched in awe as I knew that I would be next to share. He talked about things in the family that I never knew. Family memories, happy memories. Things that captured grandma’s spirit.
As I got up to say my speech, I was so nervous. I stood up at the podium in front of everyone and took a deep breath. And I spoke the following words. Ending with a verse from one of my favorite songs that so reminds me of my grandmother.
” Ellen was the kindest most forgiving woman I ever met. A wonderful mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, cousin, aunt, niece, friend, and mentor. She has so many gifts and talents that she has left with each and every one of us. She was so very sincere. Uncritical. Never judged a soul. These are some of the gifts that she has left with me. My grandmother Ellen has first left me with her strength in spirit. My name is Sarah Ellen Ashworth and I proudly carry her name. She constantly reminded me despite my lack of self confidence at times my beauty. She helped me build character with her constant reminders of reassurance and love.
I remember when I was young and the excitement of visits with grandma. She had so many talents that she shared with me such as opening my first blue crab, teaching me basic sewing, showing me her birds and how to identify them, and how to garden. We would read books together and the newspaper (she would leave the cartoons for me).
As I grew into a young adult we moved to Southern Maryland. Grandmother Ellen was my sponsor when I received the sacrament of Confirmation, she witnessed me graduated both high school and college graduation.
She became my rock of support as my world spiraled downward in 2007. I underwent a series of hospitalizations that summer and spent the next two years living at home with her and my parents. At times my family had difficulty understanding. Not grandma. She never once judged me. She would say what’s the matter honey. During this time of my treatment and recovery from my illness my Grandma was there. I tried despite how difficult it was for me to spend time with my only companion, Grandma. We would have sleepovers, read books together in the sunroom, watch our favorite primetime lineup on TV. She would call my name and I would come running. ‘Sarah, I want you to do me a favor, what grandma, I need a beer out of the fridge.”
During this period one of the greatest gifts that Grandmother Ellen gave me was that she helped me renew my faith. She encouraged me to come to church with her. If I was too depressed to get out of bed she would understand but give me that “Look” I knew what that look meant. I would go the next week. After a few months of sitting with grandma I would look up at the choir and wish I could do it. She encouraged me as did my mother to go sing that she would be okay sitting in the pew. I started singing with the choir. I sang so loud, so loud to ensure that my grandma could hear me. She always said she loved seeing me up there. During the mass she would look up and wave to me and blow me a kiss.
I have been so very lucky to have had my grandmother Ellen in my life for these years. She is an extremely amazing and beautiful soul. When I am alone or when I am running, singing, I know she is watching over me. She is part of me. Part of my soul. I believe that there is part of Ellen Rossignol in all of us. Now she is at peace, in heaven with Grandma and will always be watching over me.”
“Smile though your heart is breaking, Smile even though its aching. Although a tear maybe ever so near,
If you smile through your tears and sorrow, smile and maybe tomorrow, you’ll see the sun come sun shining through if you just SMILE…
The funeral service the next morning was beautiful. Grandma wanted it performed at her church: Our Lady’s of Medleys Neck. A small quiet catholic church up on a hill. My sister and I did the readings. I held it together till the end when the palm bearers my family and others walked out with my Grandmother in the procession. I tried. I tried to be happy. It was a beautiful day. We drove the procession all the way to Silver Spring, where she was laid to rest at the family plot next to Grandpa Rossignol and and Uncle Jack Rossignol. The family was there, we said our goodbyes. I laid a single red rose between Grandma Ellen and Grandpa’s tombstone. As I told Grandma goodbye I promised her I would smile, laugh and live a long happy life as she always did.
It was quite a trip. We left San Diego early Monday and arrived Thursday early afternoon in Southern Maryland. I have no idea how we made it across so quickly. We probably had a few angels watching out for us, considering we drove safely the entire time, driving the speed limit and extremely long hours. My brother at the last minute also flew in to help us with the driving and this helped us immensely.
Left San Diego early Monday morning and decided to take the Rt 40. But we took the scenic route on the way out. Showed my brother downtown San Diego on the way out of town. Took Rte 8 East to hook up to the 10 and head north through Phoenix and eventually hit Flagstaff. John took some pics as we approached Flagstaff. The weather difference in Phoenix was outrageous compared to Flagstaff. It was 92 degrees in Southern Arizona, and as we pulled into Flagstaff at the sun came down it was around 39 degrees!
John seemed really excited to see the country. I think he was impressed with the landscape out west and how it changed when we got to New Mexico. It became complete grassland. Mountains and desert to grassland for miles…
This was the view of the Sedona valley, John kept reaching over me as I was driving around the mountain range about 6,000 feet in elevation to get a good shot of the sunset. It was very exciting. With a frantic golden retriever in the car and a little brother who had never seen Arizona matter of fact never been out of Maryland…I had my hands full on the first day of driving.
We had to stop in Flagstaff, AZ for something to eat. We decided on Carl’s Jr. John got the Terriyaki Burger. He loved Carl’s Jr. It is definitely a west coast thing. We got about an hour outside of Flagstaff that night and stayed the night around 10pm we stopped for the night.
The next morning we got an early start on Tuesday. We made it quickly through New Mexico, and stopped stopped in Amarillo, TX. We had to go to the BIG TEXAN. It is known for the 72 oz steak. If you can finish it in one hour you can get it for free. One poor guy was sitting at the table with the clock going. He had 2 minutes left and 2 slices left. Couldn’t quite make it. The catch is if you can’t eat it all not only do you get sick, you pay 72 dollars for the steak.
I begged John to take some pictures of me there, Jason was about pictured out.
Here I am with my new cowgirl hat which I was very excited about. Of course Bail bail crushed it afterwards.
John and the big boot. He is 6’6″ This boot is still huge in comparison.Jason wasn’t really down for many pictures. He was pictured out from graduation (IDC) graduation which I will get to….
So anyway we got back on the road…through texas…into Oklahoma…and got stuck in traffic. It was great. Bailey hates traffic. As long as you put the window down he is okay. He was climbing on top of the cooler on my side and sticking his head out to check out what the deal was with the back up.
So we made it through four states on tuesday: Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma. We stayed the night on the border of Oklahoma and Arkansas in a town calledwn called Fort Smith around 12 pm Midnight. We were all exhausted.
Got up 530am the next morning and on the road by 7pm for the longest day of the whole trip we had alot of road still to travel on Day 3. We started at 7pm and didnt get off the road till 1pm. So around 18 hours on the road. We drove from Arkansas, and all the way through Tennesee. Which is insanse. There was so much construction and traffic. At one point on I 40 in Tennesee literally 10 miles from the 81 North we were stuck in traffic for an hour and half.
So after passing through Memphis we missed my favorite BBQ shack along the border so it was getting late and it was grub time. I saw a billboard for some authentic country southern food along the 40 in Western Arkansas. It was a little difficult to find off the exit, after asking for directions from the locals at the gas station she told me to keep going down the side road till I saw the “choo choo” train. I said Ok lets go. Jason wasn’t very excited. He was especially happy when I slammed on the brakes to take a this picture:
We stayed the night somewhere in Virginia on the 81 North right on the border of Tenessee and Virginia. We had about 6-7 hours to make it to Maryland. John took this picture of the sunrise as we came into the Shenadoah Mountains of Virginia.
Finally we were in Maryland: I was so happy. So was bailey, so was John.
So the boys had one last hoorrah together to celebrate becoming IDC’s before graduation this Friday. All the guys from the class and the ladies were there. Nice little BBQ and get together on the beach. The best part was as the sun came down and the we could see the sky line with the beautiful view of the coast.
After some good food we hung out on the beach at the bonfire. I entertained them much to Jason’s chagrin with my singing. He was very embarrassed. Baby, the cops are coming! He said. So the girls and I got up there and sang a couple songs, like Aretha Franklin, not sure what else, we took some requests from the fellas. I think they liked it? They thought it was funny anyway.
It was a really fun night. I enjoyed talking to the other wives who I haven’t really gotten to know this whole time out here, for the past year and a half since we’ve been out in San Diego. Jason and the guys have been so busy with IDC school we rarely get a chance to all hang out together.
I was really anxious afterwards after singing to go to Fat Cats for some good old Karaoke! After all, Jason and I did meet at our old stomping grounds at Arizona Pizza…the karaoke spot back in Maryland back in April 2008 doing Karaoke together. So it was nice to have a chance to go out and for once do some karaoke together. It made me very happy.
Afterwards, Bruce took us to my favorite late night dive diner…RUDERFORDS! Yay! For some much needed coffee and breakfast. Jason and I had a short “conversation” about how we like our coffee and eggs and apparently we don’t see eye to eye on a couple of things. Does it take two years to figure out that I dont like scrambled eggs? hmm… Anyway It was an awesome way to end the night. I got to sing my favorite songs: Shook me all night long, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Greatest Love of All, Dont Stop Believin, Need you Now, You Outta Know, Dont Wanna Miss a Thing, Hallelujah…. It was great. And I didnt mess them up too bad! There were a few notes I couldnt quite make but over all. It was nice. Jason was awesome too he was so00 Goood! I love his voice. Bruce, my cheerleader, my great friend, and always there for me, I love you so much :)
Very busy day with the training, BBQ, and Karaoke…and I am exhausted! Time for a nap….
All this weekend (well Friday-through-Saturday) I was training 8 people to become facilitators for a program called NAMI Connection Recovery Support Group. It is a weekly support group for people with mental illness where people can feel safe, share experiences, have understanding, non-judgement, and always feeling better when they came.
I still remember the first time I found a NAMI Connection meeting, in Maryland. I stepped in the door back in January 2008, and was so frightened. I was scared because I was still struggling with accepting that I even had a mental illness. In that room were people who made me feel comfortable, made me realize with the first time of my diagnosis that I wasn’t the only one, that I wasn’t alone. I started coming to every meeting, week after week. Eventually NAMI trained me to become a Connection Facilitator. In June with one of my good friends from my old group we had started our own. It was a strange feeling. I was so excited to be a facilitator back in 2008.
Once I moved from Maryland to California, I got in touch with my local affiliate right away and let them know that I was a NAMI Connection facilitator and Trainer.
Since I have been here in San Diego, just like my old groups in Maryland. I am there every week. Maybe not facilitating, maybe sometimes a participant. But that is the beautiful thing about the program. I realized during the training this weekend that even as a trainer I still have things to learn and I will always be progressing.
So now 3-1/2 years later, becoming a Military “Women” and having NAMI as part of my life I have to contact the NAMI Connecticut affiliate which is where I will be heading at the end of this month. And if there is no group in my area—I will drive—or I will start one!!
On a side not I was modeling our team shirts: TEAM PUSH for our NAMI Connection team. Our acronym stands for Progress Understanding Support and Hope. My tee shirt is awesome I must say. Here is a picture of the back:
So in summary, these eight facilitators, who are all wonderful amazing people, are going to carry on the fidelity and tradition of NAMI Connection. Across the United States there are over 700 groups available to anyone with a mental illness. I am so pleased that I could be a part of this training with my beautiful training partner, Debbie Zomparelli. I will miss you darling. We have done now 3-4 trainings here in Cali together. So to my facilitators, my connection group, keep doing it, keep it going and I promise you I will be back!
My wonderfully talented friend Bruce threw me a lovely birthday party this past Sunday, February 27. He went all out, everything from rainbow colored invitations, to a nice little location reserved just for the party called, “Fat Cats”, ordering the cake, hosting the dinner for the guests, drinks, flowers, decorations…and not to mention the huge macadamia nut and white chocolate cookie birthday cookie he baked from scratch!
So it was awesome. Jason and I arrived and and everything was perfect. As the usual suspects began to show we eventually dug into the grub. I didn’t get any pictures of the food! It was amazing! The restaurant is a BBQ bar and grill. They had beef brisket, wings, beans, potato salad, corn all the good stuff. I definitely went back for seconds.
Pharoh thought he was funny in this picture…He really isn’t that cool. I guess he was trying to say i was older than 27…
The owners of the restaurant were so nice. After dinner they asked if there was any music we would like to listen to and they were telling me about the guy by the laptop who does their music/karaoke…My eyes lit up. Karaoke?? I asked them that would be an awesome bday present if they could set up karaoke for me. And they did! I got to sing with my friends and it was so much fun. I sang a couple songs. Pharoh sang Marvin Gaye, he was rockin that song! Everybody had alot of fun. As the party started wrapping up a couple hours later I started getting picture happy and had someone take this one:
Or this one:
So later on my friends Devin and his wife, and Judith came. I had a great time with my friends on my birthday. I haven’t celebrated a birthday like that in years. In many many years. It really was the best birthday ever. And so many people who I love and who I will miss dearly were there. I can’t believe that I have really 12 days left in San Diego. It makes my stomach turn, but I know change is coming and will be for the best. The most important thing is that I have met the most beautiful people here. They mean so much to me. And on my birthday they made me feel so so special, so thank you dear friends :)
On our day off Jason and I decided to spend the afternoon in Downtown San Diego. Jason’s idea of a day off isn’t exactly the same as mine, I thought maybe a picnic on the beach or going to one of the many dog parks. He preferred to go to his favorite Italian spot in Little Italy: “Fillippi’s”.
After a nice lunch in Little Italy we went down to Seaport Village and walked around. Jason followed me as I looked for my favorite store, it is some kind of nautical themed store where you can get these really awesome sea shells. We also went to the local pet shop and found Bailey a new collar that Jason picked out…he wouldn’t compromise…he only liked the camouflage collar. (He didn’t think highly of my choices or the fact I used to have Bailey where a hot pink collar). We also had a lime green tag made for Bailey which I was so excited about. After strolling around we had to take some pictures, which Jason of course was very excited about.
As we were walking around I was taking more pictures…
This was jason after taking all the pictures:
Before I headed back down south for San Diego, Aunt Cynthia and I left for an early morning run. She is in training for the LA Marathon so her distance today was 20miles. I was just running for the heck of it I guess. We left from 3rd street off toward the Santa Monica Pier and Venice Beach. After about 2 miles I was dying due to the fact that my Aunt Cynthia, was killing me with her pace. She was going at that point an even 9:30, where I run a comfortable 10:00 mile. So I said peace out and ran back toward Santa Monica. I decided to take my time on the way back, take some pictures….
At this point I was planning to run maybe 6-7 miles, but around mile 4 I started to realize all the restrooms were locked…For whatever reason. I have no idea. So I had to book it back to my Uncle Lee’s house. I took this picture of the guys I was trailing on my way back:
It seems like an eternity that I have rested this well. The best part is, I am away from San Diego from the weekend. Away from work, away from other stressors, although I do miss Bail-Bail and Jason.
I left yesterday (Friday) afternoon from San Diego to visit my Uncle Lee, Aunt Cynthia and cousins Emma and Sophia. We have had a great weekend, despite the rainy weather. I arrived late last night and so happy to see them exhausted from the long trip from San Diego. Last night we ate sushi and watched Marmaduke.
Saturday the girls had their basketball games and I attempted to get some action shots:
Sophia tried so hard on that court. She was running circles around those other guys. It was so great to watch her in action.
Emma was a rockstar out on the court yesterday. She had this one breakaway that I could not catch on camera, but she was absolutely awesome!
So afterward, Emma, Uncle Lee and I picked up a few things at the store and came home for a nice quiet evening. We all watched a movie and had a nice Chinese dinner. They also gave me a sweet birthday present, a subscription to Netflix which is absolutely perfect! So anyway after dinner and the kids were in bed the adults put on Social Network. I was so into it I passed out twice. I really do want to see it! Anyway…
So now its morning time…Aunt Cynthia and myself are waking up early for a nice jog. Well since shes training for the LA marathon she is running 20 today…which I am def not…I might run about 6-7…That sounds good to me…
Then back to San Diego for the rest of the weekend! No work Monday!! Yay…
It seems like I have had an endless Valentines week…. From Saturday—> this past Wednesday I have been celebrating with Jason, friends, and on this particular day…on the actual day of Valentines Day…. I went to a Kenny G Concert with my great friend Bruce.
We left San Diego early enough to allow time to avoid the traffic and find Universal City in Burbank,CA since neither of us have been to the Gibson Theater before. We drove up in the early afternoon and made it up in record time despite a detour and getting slightly turned around. The drive up with Bruce was rather eventful, and we enjoyed ourselves as we searched for “affordable parking” half mile away from the venue. It turned out to be a much further walk…across the bypass, through Universal City, through CityWalk and finally to the Gibson Theater which seemed like a very very long walk. Bruce was a trooper the entire time.
We stopped before the show to take a coffee break, we had nice conversation…I did my nails. Normal things…Here is a shot of the two of us..
Also had to take pictures like all the tourists in front of the huge guitar outside of the Hard Rock Cafe:
Later we finally neared the Gibson theater and took this picture…people asked us, aww can we take your picture? I thought it was cute because they thought we were a couple (after all it was Valentine’s Day) and I thought to myself that I would love to be Bruce’s girlfriend because he is the sweetest guy ever…but I just smile at them and say, “please take our picture!” in my nicest voice.
As we waited in line for a while, I stood and stood, but I could tell Bruce was a little uncomfortable. We went over to the far end and leaned up against the edge and tried to hurry the line yet it wouldn’t budge. We finally were ushered into the theater. As we were there early, we went to find out seats. They announced that Kenny G would be signing autographs. I jumped up and went with my notebook and got in line. After standing a while and when I could finally see him. The security guard came up to me and said, “Excuse me he is only signing his merchandise”…”Why. I asked in a disappointed voice, he answered “He is trying to make money… Well that didn’t start the night off very well for me.. I have always been a fan of his music but now I was a Kenny G hater..
The show started and appeared right in front of us with his saxophone in the middle of the audience playing his opening song in the middle of the audience. I wasn’t impressed. I had not gotten over my lack of autograph. So I was alittle anxious…I was fiddling with my camera, my phone, going outside, getting something to drink…I couldn’t sit still.
It wasn’t until this moment, well until Bruce helped me settle down too…I told him I was a little anxious…he held my hand or did something to reassure me… At that time I closed me eyes and started to listen to the music. But the other moment was when Kenny G called up a couple who had won a raffle of winning one of saxophone, and also a personal playing session with him. He brought them up and played to them. The couple were so excited…He took a funny picture with them and took the time to do that out of the performance. That was the moment when I liked him again.
After looking at his albums that I do not want to get right now, there is one that struck me, his duets albums…it looks amazing.. His hearts and soul albums is his most recent…but this duets album looks really good.
I miss my Grandma so very much. I am named after my Grandma Ellen. Sarah Ellen Ashworth. She currently resides back home in Maryland, is 92 years old and has a heart condition of congestive heart failure (which she has been diagnosed with for many years), and also cardio myopathy (which she also has had for many years). She lives at home with my family and we keep careful watch over her health along with her great doctor’s treatment team. Lately her health has been declining, Grandma refuses to go to the hospital and the doctors think one of the proceedures to shock her heart would be too much for her. It is tearing me apart inside being here in San Diego and unable to see my grandma.
I have been talking too her often since I have lived out here in San Diego. Recent conversations I have tried to remain positive and remind her when I come home in a few weeks that I will cuddle with her like I used to do in her bed, sew various things and projects that she is now unable to do in her condition…and help her in her flower beds. Last week after these conversations my sister said that her demeanor completely changed after speaking with me. It made me cry and wanted to jump a plane right then and there to be with her.
This past weekend I received a phone call from my mother that Grandma was getting worse and that the entire family were coming to visit. Cousins, Aunts, Uncles, Friends, Neighbors…implying that I need to get over there ASAP. I only had one thing in mind. I have to go. On the other hand I have so much to do here, work, training, packing… There is so little time. The very next day, she was feeling better. Her health bounces back and forth it seems. But it is hard to tell at this point if it is going to stay the same, get worse, or get better at this point. Before I make any decisions, we will wait and see. There is a possibility still that I will take a couple days of leave.
I selfishly want grandma to stay. I want her to see my children born. I want her in my life longer. But I know that she is frail. Yesterday I went to church and prayed to God to give her strength, and also to give my mother strength. To give me the ability to get through this difficult time. I love my Grandma and I know she has lived a very full life. I see her and want to be with her soon. It is just a matter of how soon. It is a possibility that I might leave for a couple days this week. If that happens, I could be saying my good-byes to a woman who has always loved me unconditionally, never judged me, saw the beauty in me, and believed that I could do anything I put my mind to. I love you Grandma. I love you and please hold on.