Sunday, November 06, 2011

In Loving Memory...

It's been almost two weeks since we lost Marcus' mom.  In a way, it seems like it was yesterday, but at the same time, it seems so long ago.  Jean was taken way too early.  My heart breaks for Christian and Emma who were robbed of memories and more time with Grandma Tipi.  There were 11 grandchildren and I know they will all miss her terribly.  But Christian and Emma are so young and I'm worried that the wonderful memories they do have of Grandma Tipi will soon start to fade.  We all defiantly feel her absence in our own ways.  I had a great relationship with my mother in law.  I know some daughter in laws and mother in laws have strained or not so great relationships, but I loved my mother in law.  She was such a great example to me and my children.  If my kids remember anything about Grandma, I hope they remember how giving and selfless she was.  And how nonjudgmental she was.  In the 11 years I knew Jean, I never heard her say one bad thing about anybody.  I can't go 11 minutes without talking bad about someone...I need to work on that.

Grandma Tipi was one of a kind.  We always described her as "crazy but harmless".  We meant it in the most loving way possible.  She marched to the beat of her own drum and wasn't ashamed of it. 

I will miss seeing Christian melt into her arms and lay there forever without moving.  For those of you who know my six year old, that is a miracle within its self.  That boy never sits still for anyone. 
I will miss watching the kids play band with her at her house. 
I will miss going to her house, having her play with kids and me being able to sit and just be.  There was just something about being at her house with her there that was so calming and reassuring. 
I will miss talking with her and having her make me feel like what I was saying or thinking was actually important  and that I mattered.  She had a way with people that made them feel important.

While I am grieving in my own way...which consists of eating large amounts of frosting and keeping myself so busy there are times I don't stop going all heart breaks for my husband.  To see him trying to be strong, but knowing that he is broken and empty inside, and knowing there is nothing I can say or do to ease that pain is sometimes too much. 

The funeral was exactly the way Jean would have wanted it.  There was some closure when the day was over, but it still seems so unreal that Jean is gone.  We are all now trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces and move on.  Life will never be the same again.  Trying to get back to normal, whatever that is, is really hard.

Christian and Emma are dealing with their sadness in their own ways.  I don't think they fully understand what they has happened or how to deal with what they are feeling.  I have tried my hardest to keep things as normal possible for them, especially since things happened right around Halloween, but it has been hard.  They know things are different and they both seem to be acting out more than normal.  I think it's all pretty normal the way that have been dealing with things.  Everybody deals with sadness and heartbreak differently. 

I have included a copy of Jean's obituary.  It was written by my sister in law, Heather.  She is the oldest of the four children.  It is not your typical obituary.  When I first read it, I was taken back by the honesty and sincerity of it.  But I like it.  Jean was never one to hide her mistakes from the world.  It is her life story and she wasn't afraid to share it.

We love you Grandma Tipi!  We think about you and miss you everyday.  We know you are in up in heaven talking to rocks, giving amazing foot massages, building labyrinths, painting tipis, and making yummy peach pies all while wearing only 100% cotton.  We also know you are watching over us who were left behind and letting us all know individually that things will be okay.  We will keep moving forward and we will never forget the wonderful memories and wonderful times we had together.  We will continue to do good to those around us and love everyone we come in contact with because that is what Grandma Tipi taught us. 

Rest in Peace, Jean.

1948 ~ 2011
Jean Ruth Stokes Gilbert, born March 25, 1948, died of an accidental drowning at her home on October 25, 2011.
Jean was a giving, loving, beautiful person. And she had a hard, hard life. She was the 7th of 8 children of Clara and Glenn Stokes - a hardworking but overwhelmed mother and a paranoid schizophrenic father. Her childhood was one of hard work on the farm, with moments of freedom and joy, but with undercurrents of anxiety and fear as well.
Jean met and married Leonard Donald Gilbert when she was 20 years old, and quickly had 3 children in 3 years. And almost as quickly, she was divorced. A 23 year old single mother with 3 young children - a not quite 3 year old Heather, a 16 month old Tiffany, and an infant Marcus - she moved from California to Utah to start her life here. And soon, a 4th child, Amber, joined the family.
Jean put herself through nursing school, got a job and started working. It was hard, but somehow she found money for not only clothes and food, but for piano lessons, dance lessons, after-school ceramics classes - she was supporting her kids; she felt good about herself.
But addiction was building all this time. Alcoholism is a gradual, insidious disease. Over the next few years, the depths of alcoholism and the insanity it brought took her away from her family and from herself. She hit rock bottom in 1991, with several overdoses and hospital admissions - and then, something happened. She turned it around. She rediscovered herself - reinvented herself. And though, to be true, it was a slightly crazy self she discovered - it was a delightfully crazy, sober self that emerged from the other side of her battle with alcoholism.
And none of her grandchildren - her little doo-dahs - would ever see her struggles with addiction. They would only ever know their loving and slightly-insane grandma. She bought a house in Mantua and built a healing labyrinth crystal maze, firepit and tee pee in her back yard. She drummed in drum circles. And worked with Reiki energy. And had a Kundalini awakening. She wrote poetry. She wrote a children's book. She became a licensed massage therapist. She designed Shakti eggs. She went back to school and earned a bachelor's in social work. She became a hospice nurse and helped dying patients leave this world with grace and dignity.
She loved working in her garden, taking long walks around the lake, watching the birds in her back yard. She loved giving foot rubs, making homemade lasagna, doing healing work with crystals. She loved reaching out and helping others struggling with addiction, discovering life's astonishing richness in gratitude and compassion. But most of all, she loved her family. The connection between Jean and her grandchildren was deep and intimate.
But the years of abusing her body were catching up. She developed a chronic pain condition with widespread pain, disturbed sleep and exhaustion. She said sometimes it hurt in places she didn't even know could hurt. And for reasons that are both easy and difficult to understand, she started taking prescription narcotics to control this pain. Pain meds are tricky for people in recovery. And on that fateful night last week, narcotics combined with a hot-tub soak proved to be a deadly combination.
Life is an everyday occurrence. Until one day, it's not. Jean knew that every day, every moment spent with those we love is precious. Oh, we are going to miss her.
Jean is survived by her 4 dim-witted children, her 11 little doo-dahs, 3 sisters, 4 brothers, and countless friends and family whose lives she has touched. She is preceded in death by her mother and father, and by 4 nephews: Bryant Stokes, Kevin Stokes, Rodney Montierth and Wesley Montierth.
Jean did not want a solemn memorial or a grim tribute. Friends and family may gather to celebrate her life on Wednesday, November 2nd. She is going to be cremated, and a portion of her ashes will be interred at the Mantua Cemetery (50 S 400 W, Mantua). A graveside service will be held at 2 pm. A drum circle is planned, so bring something to pound on if you would like to participate. A luncheon will follow at the local chapel (237 S Willard Peak Rd, Mantua) at 3 pm, with a service starting at 4. We will set aside time for an open mic, so bring stories and memories to share.


Ashley said...

this is such a sweet post... just found you from LMM on facebook... may god bless you and bring you peace, thanks for posting this. xoxox

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a wonderful women--what a touching tribute. Could you tell me the name of the children's book Jean wrote that was mentioned? I'd love to read it.

Monica said...

Jean didn't publish any of her books. She just made copies for her family and friends. The child's book is a great story about a baby and his grandma. It is very cute! :)