Grandma

Mary Catherine Gegg Wintz
December 15, 1922-October 11, 2011

Daughter of Tony and Clara
Sister of Justin
Wife of Bill
Mother of Renee
Grandmother of Megan, Kevin, and Katie…and then Clint and JD as they married in to the family
GreatGrandmother of Emma
Special Friend of Tommy

This past Friday, we celebrated the life of my sweet Grandma.  She lived almost 89 years and left us with lots of fun memories.  I can assure you that there is no sadness as we know that Grandma is in heaven and reunited with Grandpa, her parents, her brother, and Tommy.  I am so grateful to have had Grandma in my life for 33 years.  I was privileged to grow up in the same town that she lived in (Memphis) and to even share several years of living very close by.  Even in the 10 years that I have lived away from Memphis, we have always remained close.  I am so glad that my daughter had a chance to get to know Grandma and what a special lady she was.

As we celebrated her life, several great memories came to life this past weekend…

  • For the remainder of my life, I will always think of Grandma when the Santa cokes are put out at Christmas time.  Hers weren’t usually from this Christmas…but they still had some fizz.  And…it was always good to go once she wrapped a paper towel around it.
  • My sister Katie grew up thinking that chocolate cake could solve just about anything.  That came from my Grandma’s allowing her to eat that for lunch when Grandma and Grandpa would take us out to Houlihan’s for Sunday brunch after church.
  • I’ll have a Frosty in honor of Grandma for the rest of my life.  Grandma loved Wendy’s and we all shared some great memories there.  In her later years, she would always perk up if we mentioned bringing her Wendy’s.  Pickles on the side..in a little cup…yes, a lot of them.  And, heads up if she had ice water.  She was known for dipping her napkin in the frigid water to wash three grandkids faces.  Quite shocking if you weren’t aware of this maneuver.
  • She went through a phase a few years ago where she would “pop” her collar.  We kept trying to fix it for her when she finally told us that she did it because she heard it makes you look younger.
  • When she purchased her first answering machine, she asked me to come over and help her with it.  She must have recorded that message 15 times.  She was very concerned that she not sound too old on the message.  What she ended up with was sort of startling…but it seemed to do the trick for her.
  • Grandma always struggled a little to be on time.  So…to combat this, she set all of her clocks ahead by about 20 minutes.  The only problem with this strategy…she knew all the clocks were ahead and still knew she had 20 more minutes!  It was a little stressful for the rest of the world if you didn’t know this little trick about her clocks.
  • Yellow notepads will also always hold a special place in my heart.  Grandma wrote everything down…everything…and then she wrote it again.  Anytime I’d call Grandma, I could always tell she was writing.  If she called me, I could always tell she was reading from the talking points that she had mapped out on her yellow pad.  When we cleaned out her apartment last year to move her to the nursing home, there were a ton of yellow pads of all shapes and sizes that were retired.
  • Grandma wasn’t really an environmentalist.  She used plastic bags to wrap everything.  In order to open a box of her cereal, you first had to untie the three Target bags she had tied around it.  She kept massive piles of Cleaners bags in her closet…to the point where I often wondered if she was planning to open a cleaners of her own one day.  She also was notorious for washing out ziplocs to reuse them again.  That was definitely a carryover from the Great Depression.  If plastic bags weren’t handy, she was also comfortable wrapping things in Kleenex…like her jewelry, or her hair while she slept.
  • The past few years, my sister and her husband have hosted Christmas for our family.  They are two of the most generous people I know and always go to great lengths to make sure everyone was having a good time.  You could tell that Grandma always felt like a celebrity coming over to Katie and JD’s house.  They treated her like a queen.
  • I will also remember that Grandma had trouble deciphering when it was most appropriate to whisper.  She would often whisper when it was just you and her on the phone…leading you to wonder who might be listening in.  However, she would never whisper when she was asking something inappropriate in public.  Fortunately, most people would excuse her due to her age.
  • A few years ago, Mom brought Grandma to Georgia for Thanksgiving so Grandma could see our new house.  We had the best time with her down here.  She even got to go to a NCCS basketball game.  She loved basketball and enjoyed the fact that I was the announcer.  I was definitely proud to have her at the game!  Grandma and Clint always enjoyed sitting and talking about all sorts of things and that was one of my favorite memories from that Thanksgiving.  Physically, that visit was rough for her, but we were so glad she came.  She came because she was so excited for Clint and me to have purchased our first home together.  Every time I’d talk to her after that, she’d always ask about our home and North Cobb Christian School.
  • The Commercial Appeal has lost a bit of its luster for me as the main newspaper in the Memphis area.  There usually isn’t anything too cheery in there, but Grandma might have been the most faithful reader of the CA.  She was always cutting out articles to share with anyone who would look at them.  The first few years I lived in Atlanta, she would always cut out the articles that mentioned Atlanta and mail them to me.  That let me know she was thinking of me and I’ll really miss that!
  • Grandma was a pretty small lady as far as stature was concerned.  In her later years, she seemed to get even more compact.  One night, we all took pizza over to her apartment to hang out.  She had the freezer door open and was bringing glasses of ice out to the living room for everyone’s soda.  Due to her shortened stature, she walked right under the freezer door while it was still open…without even having to bend down.  The best part?  All of us trying to keep our composure after witnessing such a remarkable feat.  Grandma didn’t seem to notice, but we haven’t seemed to be able to forget!
  • St. Louis Catholic Church played a pretty vital role in Grandma’s lift as a place that she went to feel close to the Lord.  As a devout Catholic, Grandma attended mass up until she just couldn’t go anymore.  Rather than sitting at home lamenting her loss of freedom, Grandma started reading the Bible for herself.  In the last few years, we had some great conversations about the Book of Acts in particular.  She was very intrigued by the history of the church.  St. Louis was a huge blessing to our family as they brought Grandma communion faithfully on a regular basis until she passed away.  God definitely used St. Louis to help Grandma grow closer to Him.
  • I’m sorry that I never met Grandma’s brother Justin.  He passed away at a young age.  But, it was always such a treat to hear Grandma talk about what a great uncle Justin was to my mom.  My mom talks about Justin in just the same way sharing tons of fun adventures and thoughtful memories.  I know that Grandma often saw her brother Justin in my brother Kevin and was so grateful for what an incredible young man my brother has become.
  • My Grandpa died on Christmas Even when I was 12.  That pretty much shattered my Grandma’s world as she relied on him for everything.  They had been married for 46 years and did everything together.  They were the best grandparents this kid could have ever asked for.  Even during some tough times for our family, they were always there for us.  I’ll particularly always treasure the evenings they spent with the 3 of us while my mom went back to school to get her paralegal degree.  Grandma would always show up with pot roast and mashed potatoes.  Grandpa would play with us until we were exhausted from laughing.  They both always seemed to have enough time for all three of us.
  • After Grandpa passed away, Grandma was pretty lonely for someone to do things with.  She reunited with Tommy…a friend from she and Grandpa’s past whose wife had passed away.  Tommy was a big part of our family for several years during our high school and college days.  Grandma and Tommy were hilarious together travelling to Florida with friends, coming to graduations and ballgames, and making the trek to Atlanta for my wedding.  Grandma and Tommy went to great lengths to support all of us in our endeavors.  I’m so grateful for Tommy’s friendship to Grandma.  They were both terrible drivers, but they sure had fun together!  When Tommy passed away a few years ago, I know Grandma missed him too.
  • My Grandma was fiercely proud of her family.  As a kid, I remember that she and Grandpa would take us out to eat for special occasions.  She would always embarrass us by calling the manager over to meet her family.  That seems pretty special…she didn’t know the manager, she was just proud of her family and wanted to show us off.  Anytime that anyone of us spoke to her, she always wanted to know what everyone else was up to as well.

I am grateful for the life of my Grandma.  She was my last living grandparent and the end of a chapter in my life.  She was a beautiful lady and her smile lit up a room.  I’m so grateful that she is now reunited in heaven with those that went on before her.  I smile when I think of what it will be like to see her again one day.  Love you Grandma!

 

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