Memories of a "Disney movie" grandmother...

I'd like to share a short story that is very near and dear to my heart...

I am an aunt of 3 nieces, one of which is the boisterous, outspoken, and very clever, 5-year-old Kaitlyn. Her extrovert personality truly reflects that of her late grandmother and my own mother, Merri Piorkowski. Kaitlyn marches to the beat of her own drum, always telling you what's on her mind, always blunt, yet very insightful and gregarious.

[Kaitlyn, below, taken Nov. 2009]

Before I share further, I'll precede with a quick summary of Kaitlyn's relationship with my mother. My mom had struggled with breast cancer beginning the spring of 2004, she then endured chemo/radiation treatments, managed to keep teaching at her high school and carry on with normal life, always making time for her granddaughters, who I am convinced were her favorite people in this world. She radiated with pride when she looked upon them. Her love for them was beyond evident and very magical to observe. Crystal (my sister-in-law and Kaitlyn's mother) always claimed my mom was a grandmother right out of a Disney movie. She continually put her granddaughter's first, sewing them matching Easter dresses each year, visiting them every spring break, sending them gifts, cards, books and toys involving their latest favorite television star, first Dora then on to Hannah Montana. She always made them feel special, included, and consoled them if they were feeling otherwise. No one could keep up with the girls like she could. I'm pretty sure that she ended up tiring them out at the end of days they spent together! (See bottom photo for dance-off example)

So, of course, like every fairy tale, there must be some conflict. My mother's breast cancer reappeared with a vengeance in 2008 and rapidly deteriorated her health. She passed away on June 14, 2009. And a small bright burning candle went out in this world.

We had a beautiful memorial service for my mother in Madison, OH shortly after. The large sanctuary was filled to the maximum as person after person filed into pay their respects; strangers my mom had immediately made into loyal friends at stores, at her work, at church, and anywhere she visited. Her zest for life, strong empathy for others and vibrant personality left an impact on all who crossed her path. Now I could probably create an entirely separate blog to describe this woman I was blessed to call my mother (and I think that I will), but allow me to transition back to the premise of this story (the story that I originally called "short"...sorry!).

At the memorial service, Kaitlyn and Brianna (my other niece) had a special role to play. They each released bunches of balloons into the sky, while all attendees gathered round outside the church, symbolizing the release of my mother's spirit from this earth. This was almost one year ago. 

[Kaitlyn & Brianna with their father, Jeremy, June 2009]

Now let's jump forward to present day:

My niece Kaitlyn went to a bday party yesterday. When she left, she took 2 balloons with her. On the way home, she said "Mommy, I'm gonna send these balloons to heaven, one for God and one for Jesus, but I am going to ask them if they will share with Nana". When they got home she ran into the driveway and closed her eyes and prayed "Dear God, these balloons are for you and Jesus, will you please share with my Nana?

Like her mother, I was impressed by Kaitlyn's memory of releasing the balloons at her Nana's service and overwhelmed with how beautiful her small commemoration really was. I hope the memory of her beloved grandmother truly does live on in her forever, just as the memory of my beloved mother will forever live on in me.

I'm sure this post will segue into many more related posts that explain why I have chosen to become a photographer and make it my life's work capturing the memories of other's loved ones and the joy in their special moments. It is the most notable expression of my creativity I can think of. 

[My mother Merri, taken by me in Feb 2009 in Los Angeles]

Don't cry because it's over,
SMILE because it happened.
-Dr. Seuss


Kayla Schneider said...

Great post Kimothy - I am so sorry for your loss. The thought of losing my own mom is overwhelming and I can't imagine what it has been like for you. I think every person that ever met her will always remember her so fondly as a woman that was always smiling, laughing and so kind. Can't wait to read more about your decision on choosing photography - love your posts and work :)

Kory said...

WoW! Kimothy you've captured so many great moments of mom and the girls. She was the best mom a family could ask for. I'm so happy you've dedicated your time and talents to spread the joys of her life as well as others! Mom would be very proud of you. Keep up the awesome work KiMbO! (:
-yOur Little Twin Bro,

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