Monday, August 10, 2015

Grandma's eulogy

I had a few people who weren't able to make it to mygrandma's rosary to hear my eulogy and wanted me to post it. So here it is. 

On behalf of the Schuette family, I'd like to thank everyone for being here today. The amount of people present shows just how much of an impact grandma had on everyone she met.

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Ashlee and I'm Roger and Marilyn's oldest grandchild. 

I know she meant something different to everyone here. She was a wife, mom, great grandma, sister, aunt, cousin and friend. To me and her eight other grandchildren, she was simply grandma. To us, she was just sweet, kind, funny and adorable grandma.

While I was preparing to write this, I reached out to my cousins and asked them to describe grandma in three words. They are: Loving, selfless, faithful, beautiful, gentle, motherly, sweet, perceptive, happy, delightful, respected, ornery, wise, strong, nurturing, patient and an amazing listener. She really was all of these things and more.

I had the privilege to sit down with grandma at the end of June and talk to her about her life – her parents, her sister, her marriage to grandpa, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. 

She talked a lot about her childhood, including the fun she'd having taking the train to California to visit Aunt Lucille and Uncle Cye and their boys with her sister, Lois, and their Aunt Tootsie, who grandma said was "like a kid anyway." She talked about going to Peony Park as a teenager where she and her friends would sunbathe, swim and look at boys. She loved Peony Park – even though it was "miles and miles" from her house. She remembered taking the bus and having to wait for the dilapidated Peony Park bus at the intersection of 72nd and Dodge, which back then was just farmland. She mentioned having to walk by the haunted house that sat on that land. She and her best friends – Betty and Fran – explored it once. 

And speaking of best friends, grandma went on about all the trouble she, Betty, Fran and Rosie used to get into while they were at Mercy High School (like the time they hid in the basement smoking cigarettes while the nuns were just right above them or the time they didn't want to go to an all-school assembly so the four of them skipped out and walked from Mercy all the way to Betty's house near Creighton University. Grandma said Betty got frostbite on her fingers because she didn't wear the proper gloves that day).

She told me about how she met grandpa. Betty called her about going on a blind date to meet this guy – a friend of her brother's – and grandma automatically said "No, I'm not going on any blind date." But Betty begged her, telling her how good looking he was and how she'd really like him. Thankfully, grandma gave in and decided to talk to him over the phone. She remembered sitting on the floor of her mother's kitchen with her feet stretched out and the kitchen door closed so her mom and dad couldn't listen and talking to grandpa over the phone for more than an hour. There was a spark on the phone, grandma told me. They had so much in common. She was very excited to meet him and when they saw each other for the first time, she thought he was so cute. But he had long hair, which grandma didn't like. She liked crew cuts and she told him so. And guess what? The next time she saw him, he had a crew cut. "He turned into the most adorable guy I had ever seen," she told me. "He was so handsome."

A month after they'd met, they knew they wanted to get married. "You just know automatically. Your heart tells you something," she said. Grandpa gave her a ring for Christmas and they were married exactly one year later from the day they met – May 10, 1958. 

Fifty-seven years of marriage later, they have four children – Lori Ann, Jeanne Marie, Raymond John and Mark William; 9 grandchildren, including myself, Jacob, Jessica, Laura, Jennifer, Rachel, Ashley, Grace and Wyatt; and 7 great grandchildren: Lucas, Blake, Vera, Calvin, Sam, Henry and Maya.

She loved being a mother, a grandma and, especially, a great grandma. I asked her what some of her favorite things were and her answer was simple and quick: Her great grandchildren. "They bring true joy to me, Ashlee," she told me that day. "I just get thrilled every time I look at one of those babies. Right now, they really bring me to life." She also loved her garden, which always had some daisies, her favorite flower; and going to Lakeland to go camping. 

Everyone loved grandma. And grandma loved everyone. Even my friends growing up considered her "Grandma Schuette."

The moment you walked in the door, everything was about you. She'd want to make you something to eat – pineapples and bananas mixed together was a personal favorite of mine; she wanted to know about what was going on with your life. When I was little, I'd lay across her lap while she tickled my back and sang to me. 

She was the epitome of grace, faith and strength. She lived every day with all three – especially through her illness. But none more so than faith. I asked her what she thought would come after death and she told me, "Heaven." She told me about how excited she was to be able to see her mom and dad again, as well as other family members and friends who went on before her. "They can't wait for me to get there. It's really joyous," she said. She wasn't scared, either. 

But I was scared – and I told her so. I didn't know what I was going to do without her – never seeing her pull up in my driveway with grandpa, excited to see Sam; never sitting down and just talking for hours with her; never hearing her laugh again. I wasn't ready, I told her. "You never are," she said. She recounted the story of when her mother died and how it was so hard.

"It's going to be so sad, but then you just go on with life. You have to go on with life and get happy again. You have Sam, who will keep you happy – and you have to have more babies," she told me.

Well, grandma ... we're trying. It's going to be hard ... but you've left us all with such amazing memories to hold on to. Thank you for all of them – teaching me to bark like a dog and dance like a butterfly; spreading out our Halloween candy on your kitchen floor so we could count each one and see who got the most; roller skating in the basement at your old house at 1708 Second Ave.; dancing to "Here Comes Suzy Snowflake" while setting up Christmas decorations at your house; and sitting in your living room talking while you tried to teach me how to crochet. These are just a few out of hundreds upon hundreds. 

Grandma, I know you're up there. I know you see us and love us and that you helped dad through his surgery. Thank you. Every time we left your house, you'd give us these giant hugs and tell us to "be good." Don't worry. We will be. We will continue to make you proud. We'll get happy again. We'll keep living and have more babies. I love you. 


Grandma and I. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

March...

Today I had to return to the real world. After 11 blissful weeks of maternity leave, I am back at work. I knew, all along, that today would be tough, but I didn't know just HOW tough it would be. I've been on an emotional rollercoaster all day. Yesterday it was just Sam and I. I turned down requests to hang out with people (except to have my mom over for lunch) because I wanted one last day with just me and my baby. And it was wonderful. Last night, as I was getting ready and packing all of his stuff for today, it really hit me. I thought how I wouldn't be hanging out at home with him, but he'd, instead, be at a daycare with people he doesn't know. I wondered if he'd be scared? And that was an awful thought to have...because I pretty much fell apart after that. This morning, Sam woke up at about 6 a.m. So, like every morning, Kevin brought him to bed with us so we could all cuddle. I never wanted that hour to end. But at 7 a.m., it was time to get going. Now, Sam is always a very happy baby in the morning...and today he wasn't. I wonder if he somehow knew what was going on? Maybe he sensed something in me? The fear, the anxiety. He screamed bloody murder for almost 10 minutes before finally falling asleep in my arms as I rocked him. He was still sleeping when we left him at daycare...which was hard. I wanted so much to wake him up and tell him bye so he wouldn't have to wake up to a strange place and a stranger's face. But he needed to sleep. So Kevin and I left and I silently prayed he would be OK. About two hours into work, our babysitter texted me a photo of Sam. He looked happy. She said he was an angel. I started feeling better. While I wish he could be with me all day, I take comfort knowing he's in a small in-home daycare with only a few kids and a provider who will take time to comfort and play with him. Who will send me updates and make sure I know he's OK. I feel better about that. Plus, everyone has been so kind to me today. My co-workers set up balloons and a welcome back sign in my new desk. They also printed out and framed photos of Sam and set them up at my desk. And my parents sent me flowers. People have also been messaging and texting me all day. I couldn't ask for a better support system. I wouldn't have made it through this day without that. I just hope each day gets better. I know it will...but I guess I hope it happens sooner rather than later. And I can't wait for it to be 5 p.m. I can't wait to hug my precious baby and kiss his chubby cheeks! XOXO, MJ

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Samuel Jacob Coffey

I wish I would have updated this blog sooner. But I have been pretty busy.

Our son, Samuel Jacob Coffey, was born Dec. 13, 2013 at 12:21 a.m. He weighed 7 pounds, 15.5 ounces and was 20.75 inches long.

It was the most joyous day of my life. I went into labor with him at about 8:45 in the morning when my water broke (thank God it wasn't at work...). We got to the hospital at about 10 a.m. and I labored with him all day.

I can remember walking up and down the hallway of the maternity ward and hearing all the babies crying and saying to Kevin, "I wonder what our baby's cry will sound like?" I can't even tell you how many times I walked up and down that hallway.

By about 5 p.m., my contractions were getting bad. I remember before I went into labor, my sister told me to think of the contractions as waves...let them wash over me...then think, "That one is gone. It'll never happen again." Well, I tried that. I really did. I did good at first...but when they started to get really bad...I began thinking, "That one is gone...but the next one is coming any second!"

Labor was hard. And exhausting. Probably the single HARDEST thing I have ever done in my life. But so worth it. But when I think back on the experience...I don't remember the pain (which is probably why I will have another kid in a few years...). All I can remember is hearing Sam's cry as the doctor lifted him up and placed him right on my belly.

He had the most adorable cry. I remember looking at him and thinking, "This is MY baby?" It was so surreal. I was crying. Kevin was crying. My mom was crying. The two nurses, two doctors and anesthesiologist all kept telling me, "He's beautiful. Congratulations."

As soon as the doctor placed him on me (I was the first person to actually touch him) and Sam heard, smelled and felt me...he immediately stopped crying. Even though I know he really couldn't see me, it seemed like he was looking at me. I'll never, ever forget it.

He's now eight weeks old and I am sitting here wondering where the time has gone. It doesn't seem like I gave birth to him eight weeks ago. He's just starting to smile at us...and he sometimes kind of giggles. He can hold his head up pretty well, too. He loves cuddling and I think his favorite thing to do is nurse! I love it, too. Such an amazing time to bond with him.




Well...that's it for now. :)

XOXO,
MJ

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Just about three weeks left...

So our little man (yes, we've named him, but no, we're not announcing on social media...) is set to arrive in about three weeks. I suppose it could be less - and it could also be more, though this mama sincerely hopes not!

It's not that I'm that uncomfortable (well, I am...but aren't you supposed to be at this stage?)...it's just that I don't want him to have a birthday too close to Christmas. How hard would that be? Though having a birthday AFTER Christmas would be worse.

I'm hoping for Dec. 11...seven days early (according to the due date the doctors have given me). That'd be perfect.

But we're so ready for him to be here. His nursery is all ready - furniture is set up, artwork is hung on the wall. He's got tons of clothes, toys, books and everything else a baby should have - thanks to our wonderful family and friends. Plus we have one shower left at the beginning of December. This kid is spoiled already!

And now that we have finally named him...and I hear my close friends and family use his name...it makes him so much more real to me. I don't even know why! Plus I can actually SEE him move, which is totally wild.

I am SUPER nervous for labor...but I'm trying to remind myself I'm a strong person and can do this...drug free! It's hard, though, when all I ever hear from anyone is their own horror stories and how crazy I am for wanting to bring him into the world drug-free. I don't know anyone besides my own mom and sister who have had their babies drug-free. Am I crazy? Probably...but I'm determined to do this. I have the most amazing doctor who is going to be there the entire time so I am not worried about anything going wrong. And my wonderful, loving husband will be there with me the entire time..thank GOD. And my mama, too! (Which I'm beyond thankful for.)

But I tell you this...I'm am praying for a relatively quick and easy labor. I pray this baby comes into the world strong, healthy and crazy mad (which the doctors like...shows they're healthy and they can do all the newborn tests on babies a lot easier if they come out screaming!).

I'm sure the next post will come after baby is born...so if you're reading this between now and about three weeks from now...please say a prayer for me, Kevin and our baby! Thank you!

XOXO,
MJ

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Baby registry

So we're at 28 weeks today.

Baby is getting bigger and bigger every week. I feel him kicking and rolling all over. It's pretty wild. I especially enjoy sitting in bed at night (when he's most active) and watching my stomach move. It's seriously as though there's an alien inside - ready to burst out! (Cue scary Aliens movie.)

I've noticed he really likes the sound of his daddy's voice. Whenever Kevin comes home and starts talking to me, baby starts kicking up a storm. Now I know how Elizabeth felt when baby John started moving as soon as the sound of her cousin Mary's voice reached her ears (it's in the Bible, I swear). It's heartwarming. He also loves Kevin's touch. He'll be moving around like crazy at night and Kevin will rub my belly and baby lays still...I'm not sure what it is. Is it Kevin's warmth or possibly the fact that his touch soothes me, which baby picks up on? Either way, I love it.

A couple of weeks ago we decided we'd put off registering for baby stuff long enough. So we ventured into Babies R Us...which is seriously the 800 pound gorilla of all baby stores. Holy crap. We didn't even know where to begin. Thankfully the nice registry lady gave us some good tips and a list of the "most important things you'll need." We did our research beforehand but wow...nothing prepares you for walking into a giant baby store with 12 different types of high chairs, strollers and car seats.

So we registered for what we thought was best (or a couple of high chairs if we weren't sure) and left. After doing more research (thank you Baby Bargain book...), we were able to go back - this time a little more prepared but still relatively overwhelmed - and finish.

And you wouldn't believe how expensive that place is. Wow. More than $150 for bedding. BEDDING! A tiny piece of fabric you don't even get to use in the crib, sheets, a bumper (which you can't even use anymore but they still sell them) and a crib skirt. I guarantee you the blanket, sheets and pillow cases we use on our bed aren't even that much! So we said no thanks. We're going another route.

The next thing I couldn't believe - the price of furniture. Cribs start at reasonable prices - $100 - and go all the way up to ridiculous - $1,000+. I don't even get it. And the dressers - don't even get me started on them. They're crappily made and I didn't see ONE that was less than $400. I don't even own a dresser worth that much. :/ I love this child more than he'll ever know and I haven't even met him yet - but I'm not buying him a $400 dresser. Especially one so poorly made.

And what's up with there being WAY more girl baby clothes than boys? It's so unfair!

Anyway, if there's a mama-to-be out there who is reading this...just be prepared to be unprepared. I don't think any amount of preparation can really get you ready for a baby. At least, not that we've discovered. It's fun, don't get me wrong. But holy cow you learn so much in such a little amount of time that it's tough to wrap your mind around it. We're just trying to let go and enjoy.

Next week is my birthday and we're taking a babymoon (haha) to Colorado for the weekend (Friday through Sunday) to celebrate a friends wedding but to also just get away and unwind - just Kevin and I. I can't wait.

Also, 12 weeks left! Wowza!

XOXO,
MJ

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The cicada's song

I am at work right now. But even from the inside of my building, as I sit listening to the police scanner, I can hear the rising chorus of the cicada...signaling the end of yet another summer.

Hearing the cicada every August was always a bittersweet sound to me as a child. It meant summer was coming to a close...that school was right around the corner. That chilly weather was inevitably on its way.

But now when I hear the cicadas...it brings me back to the warm memories of being a kid. Of running around at night, barefoot trying to catch lightning bugs. Of laying on the still-warm grass as the sun began to set. Of starting a fire out at the lake and roasting marshmallows for s'mores. Of just being a kid and having nothing in the world to worry about...except for school starting.

I don't get sad at the end of summer anymore. It's not the same as it was when I was a kid. I have to work every day. I don't get to go to the pool every day. I don't get to do whatever I want. I'm an adult with adult responsibilities...like paying the bills. Plus, I enjoy fall. The heat - thanks to being pregnant - is completely unbearable to me. I'd give anything for it to be 60 degrees out right now instead of 86 degrees at 8 p.m.

So hearing those cicadas is an almost welcome sound these days. Plus, hearing them gives me a nice chance to sit back and reminisce about those wonderful childhood days. And I look forward to teaching my son about the cicada's song. I hope he'll someday look back when he's my age and have just as many fond memories when they start singing at every summer's end.

XOXO,
MJ

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I'm going to be outnumbered in my house...

It's official. We're having a BOY!

I'm going to be outnumbered in my house! And I'm OK with that.

When the ultrasound tech asked us if we were ready to find out, I was prepared to hear, "It's a boy!" So when we did, I laughed. I was excited, of course. No, ecstatic! But I still laughed. I was right! I like that. I'm carrying on the "sixth sense" my aunts, mom and sister all had. Phew.

And we've produced, I feel, a little prince. Someone to finally carry on the Coffey name. I'm sure it makes my husband proud - since it's not really through me that gender is determined. But if I was married to King Henry VIII, I'd at least be spared from getting my head chopped off for not producing an heir. Haha.

Anyway, once we announced, the gifts came flooding in. A little blue onesie with robots and a matching bib. A Batman onesie. Little Yoda and Chewbacca slippers. This kid isn't even born yet and already he has a week's worth of clothes and two pairs of shoes. This mama is happy.

Next is the nursery. Not sure if we'll do something with a superhero theme or do something a little less...nerdy. But he's the product of Kevin and I so he really has no chance of being normal. So why not start early? ;)

We just moved to the new house a couple of weeks ago and right now the nursery is just basically a storage room for all the stuff we don't want to deal with quite yet or the boxes that haven't been unpacked.

But we have gone to pick out paint. We have to paint every single room in our house (since the house was built in the 1920s and really wasn't properly cared for the past 10 or so years, it needed some patching in the walls and some parts of the ceiling after the roof was replaced a couple of years ago). So yay for a giant painting party.

But once the nursery is emptied out and painted, it's going to get exciting. And then adding all the baby furniture, of course. :)

Let it begin!

XOXO,
MJ