The following post is a lot more personal than anything I have ever posted. It is probably more personal than anything I will ever post again. It is a post about love and appreciation. Unfortunately it is also about death. If this is something that you would not care to know about, then please do not continue to read. I will not mention this again and the blog will go about it’s professional tone starting with the next post. Lastly, let me mention that the text is followed by an image that I find beautiful. It will be viewed by some as somber, but it is in fact a tender and beautiful moment. Perspective is everything, and I chose to see the good.
Some of you that know me know that my grandmother recently passed away, necessitating my recent trip to Florida. This post is for and about her… Cynthia Florette Stempel. She filled the years from January 6th, 1924 through March 12th, 2010 with as much life as she could. She was not a grandmother as painted by Norman Rockwell but a far more complex and genuinely interesting version.
Grandma was part of what has come to be known as the greatest generation. She served in the Navy as a Pharmacist’s Mate 3rd Class during the Second World War. Interestingly enough I also served in the Navy during Desert Storm and was a Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class (the name changed following WWII). I didn’t give that too much thought at the time but there was a connection. One of my uncles became a nurse and went on to become a hospital CEO which is the position he holds today. My father, while having one of, if not the most interesting lives of anyone I have ever known, is currently a Nurse Practitioner and in charge of an ICU in Chicago. In addition to my medical service in the Navy, I attended college with the intention of becoming a doctor (my mind and career obviously changed). There must be something in the genes.
As I mentioned above, grandma was cut from a different cloth. She didn’t cook (well anyway), she loved to gamble (grey hounds, Jai alai and the slots to name a few), and dine out, and most of all, she loved a man for 39 consecutive years who meant the world to her. They did everything together and it is for him that I am the saddest. As much as I loved my grandmother, he loved her more. I was born to love her while he chose to and never wavered. They never married and yet he stayed by her through everything. In the end (which was not quick in coming) he waited on her hand and foot. He did everything in his power and hoped for things that were not. I will always love him for the love he showed her.
While this does not begin to scratch at the surface of the person that my grandmother was, I will close this with a simple statement… Grandma… you will be missed.