Sugar and Spice and Everything Grandma. Or: How to Say Good-bye to a Loved One from Overseas

I originally started this blog for two reasons:

  1. To inform/entertain my friends and family in the States.
  2. To journal my experiences in Spain.

To me, “to journal my experiences” means writing about both the good and the bad.

Or in this case, the sad.

Last weekend, my mother called me with news from home: My grandma had suffered a serious stroke that had damaged her brain and paralyzed her right side.

The doctors explained that my grandma would slip into a coma within a week and pass away shortly after that.

My grandma is my last living grandparent and the one whom I am the closest to.

I cried like a baby.

I’ve spent this week FaceTiming with my aunts, praying with my grandma, and grieving with my mom.

My grandma has now passed away peacefully, surrounded by her children and those who love her.

And if the point of this blog is to write about everything that happens this year, then I want to write about my grandma, too.

So, I want to share with you three of the (many) things that made her so special:

1. Sugar and Spice and Everything Grandma

My grandmother did not swear. If she was angry or dropped something, she would not curse.

She would just shake her head in frustration and say, “Ooh, sugar!”

Imagine those words with a sweet, grandmotherly voice.

It’s adorable.

Grandma on her 90th birthday, August 2015

2. Christmas Time

Every Christmas, we drive over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house.Christmas Time

And by “we” I mean “the entire family.”

And by “the entire family” I mean “every single aunt, uncle, cousin, grand kid, and pet that is associated with the Trobec clan.”

We start our Christmas tradition by going to church together.

An hour before mass, we send “scouts” to monopolize four full pews so the entire family can sit together.

Our priest hates this, but whatever.

Haters gonna hate.

After mass, me and my 25 relatives cram into grandma’s house and spend the rest of the day eating, opening presents, and yelling at each other.

No, seriously.

Nothing says “Christmas spirit” like listening to my five aunts yell over each other, somehow managing to argue about something that they all actually agree on.

Ahhhh, family.

It’s bizarre. But I love it.


Coloring with Grandma, December 2014

3. Matriarch

My grandmother is the central hub and centrifugal force of my family. She is the person whom we orbit around, the thing that keeps such a large family together.Matriarch

One of the hardest things about losing someone is that you also lose the traditions and the intangibles that go with them.

And without grandma as our matriarch, our extended family will slowly restructure. There will be new matriarchs and new traditions.

This is normal and natural, and – without a doubt – the new traditions that emerge will bring us much joy and excitement.

But right now, the idea of letting go of the old traditions that we hold so dear is a painful and terribly, terribly sad to me.

And I am glad that we will have one last Christmas in her home, even if she is not physically with us, so that we can enjoy those traditions.

My last thought about grandma as our matriarch is this: She raised an amazing, close, and loving family and I am proud and blessed to be a part of it.


Christopher and Jess’s wedding. Summer 2015.
Most of the family, but missing the two newest grand kids. August 2015.