Tag Archives: Grandma

90 Years: Celebrating The Life of Our Matriarch

The head of our Hungarian clan, my Grandmother, Helen, is NINETY years old today!!! WOO HOO! My Aunts have said that they couldn’t let this major accomplishment slide by quietly, and so have planned a nice celebration in her honor back near my hometown in Michigan.

90 year old Grandma

As we’ve grown and married, most of her Grandchildren have moved away from Michigan. Knowing how difficult it is for all of us to make the trip, besides Grandma never wanting to cause a fuss, my Auntie approached me with a request: Could I compile and edit a video of Birthday wishes from the out-of-state family members that would do it? I accepted, under the condition that I’d get all the videos a month out to be able to work at it as time allowed — yeah right! I did get Grandma’s DVD finalized in time – never you mind if I was burning the disc on my laptop (which had conveniently crashed) in the passenger seat as I slid into UPS, 2 minutes to close with the truck leaving. That’s what they designed 2nd-Day Air for people!

There’s a good cross-section of us out-of-staters represented in the final production. One of the things that I loved while working on the editing is that each clip so classically embodies each family. The beginning always makes me laugh, as it just so Grandma. Shortly after her 89th birthday, my Hubs and I visited and shot some home movies where we interviewed her for posterity’s sake. Good thing about Grandma – you never have to guess what she’s thinking, she’ll let you know. For real. She used to tell me:

I hope you get married before I die.

And I would respond,

I’m purposely holding out so that you will live longer.

Suffice it to say she lived to see me dance at my wedding, which not even my Mom (her daughter) had been able to do. Some may say she’s a tough ol’ Bird, but she’ll tell you that God must still have some mission for her.

Here’s a snapshot into my wonderfully talented and quirky family – wishing a happy 90th Birthday to our Matriarch! For those who hold out, there’s a bonus at the end.

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Raising a Saint

Although they are unmentioned in the Bible, the lives of Sts. Joachim and Ann have been gleaned from an apocryphal Christian writing, the Protoevangelium Jacobi, or Gospel of James, written about the year 170. As the story goes, Joachim was a prominent, respected man; yet he and his wife, Ann, for many years had no children. At that time, that was viewed as a punishment from God, so they prayed and asked for a child.  This is why she is the patroness of childless couples, pregnancy, and many more (see below).

God answered their prayer, and an angel appeared to tell the older couple that they would conceive. Anne promised that their child would be dedicated to God, and Mary was born.


What was it like to raise not only a Saint, but the Mother of God? I wish there were writings on that. Still, I picture it something like this photo: With Ann teaching Mary her “Catechism”, and how to tend to a household, and little Mary faithfully and sweetly learning and growing. We do know that Joachim and Ann were people of faith, and raised Mary in such a way to be worthy of her calling. They did not waste any time either, as Mary was only about 12 or 13 when Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

On the vigil of Sts. Joachim & Ann’s feast last night, the Hispanic and English groups joined together to celebrate our Patroness. About twice a year, our thriving Parish in Texas, St. Ann, combines the English and Spanish choirs to sing for bilingual liturgies. It’s very lively and moving – even us musicians were moved to tears during parts of the Mass.  Since Ann & Joachim were Jesus’ Grandparent, we honored the Grandparents of our community — they joined the procession, carrying white flowers and placing them in vases on the altar.  With 8 priests and deacons celebrating the Mass, and so many choir members to overfill the risers, it was a beautiful liturgy.

Here’s more about Anne & Joachim, from The One Year Book of Saints by Rev. Clifford Stevens:

Anne: against poverty; barren; broommakers; cabinetmakers; carpenters; childless couples; equestrians; grandmothers; grandparents; homemakers; housewives; lace makers; lace workers; lost articles; miners; mothers; old-clothes dealers; pregnancy; pregnant women; horse riders; seamstresses; stablemen; sterility; turners; women in labour; Brittany; Canada; France; Quebec; archdiocese of Detroit, Michigan; diocese of Norwich, Connecticut; Santa Ana Indian Pueblo; Taos, New Mexico.

Joachim: fathers, grandfathers, grandparents.

Anne: Book, symbol of her careful instruction of Mary; flowering rod; crown; nest of young birds; door; Golden Gate of Jerusalem; book; infant Virgin in crib; Shield has silver border masoned in black, with silver lily on a blue field referring to the girlhood of the Virgin.
Often Portrayed As: Woman holding Mary or Jesus in her arms or lap; Woman at her betrothal to Joachim; Mother teaching Mary to read the Bible; Woman greeting Saint Joachim at Golden Gate; Woman with a book in her hand.

Joachim: Basket containing doves; model of Golden Gate of Jerusalem.
Often Portrayed As: Man bringing a lamb to the altar and being turned away by the priest; greeting and/or kissing Saint Anne at the Golden Gate; elderly man carrying a basket of doves and a staff; elderly man with the child Mary.

Sources: catholicculture.org; catholic.org

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Hometown Visit for Grandma

My husband had been saying for the past few months, with me nodding in agreement, that we really needed to plan a visit to see my Grandmother back in Michigan.  Our only surviving Grandparent–who just celebrated her 89th birthday in October–we were convinced that the ability to visit with our family’s Matriarch is not something that should be taken for granted.  Then a couple weeks ago, my Aunt informed us that Grandma had been to the ER three times in the past three weeks with vey high blood pressure – which we later learned were spikes resulting from her Parkinsons, followed up by 1 to 2 mini strokes.

Upon receiving the news, I immediately asked my Hubby, “When are we going to go and visit Grandma?”

“In two weeks,” Mike responded on our way back from a wedding in Louisiana.  His answer likely would’ve been sooner, had he not been leaving for a week long business trip in California the following day, and I preparing to work a weekend conference in Dallas.

It had been two years since our last trip to Michigan, and that was amidst a whirlwind of a wedding and introducing Mike to as many family and friends that could be squeezed in over a few short days. Since Grandma was the reason for this trip, it had a very different pace due to that purpose. Between Grandma visits, it was a blessing that reconnections worked out with just a few family members and old friends that we weren’t able to see either during our last visit to MI or at our wedding.  In fact, I got to meet a couple of friend’s kiddos that I’d only seen pictures of, and visit with a couple of dear childhood friends that I hadn’t seen in decades.  Wow — I suddenly feel old!  Wish we could’ve seen everyone we wanted to, but it’s never possible with quick planning and short visits…boo…

We were also excited that we could put the new camera that we scored recently, especially for business purposes (thank you Ritz/Wolf Camera, and sorry it was on account of your going-out-of-business sale), the Sony a77.  The more that we use it, the more we learn, and enjoy the benefits of a phat D-SLR camera that we’ve been dreaming of for years! Yes, this is far cry from my original Canon Sure Shot that I toted around Europe in 1997, featuring the world’s slowest shutter – HA!  Besides our Sony’s slick photos (24.3 megapixels) – the highlights of which I’m posting here (along with few iPhone photos interspersed) – we also were able to do something I’ve talked about for years:  We recorded an “interview” with Grandma, collecting family history and memories that we can cherish for years to come – on Blu-Ray!  The interview needs to be edited still, which has some classic Grandma moments, but photos are ready now.

Me and Grandma

Our visit with Grandma, at her apartment in Assisted Living

Aunt Nancy and Uncle John, my Mom’s youngest sister and her husband, joined us out for a great burger at Bagger Daves – courtesy of Grandma.

3 out of 5 of the Bialowicz family joined us for dinner. Glad my cousin came out, so I could quiz her for her test on diseases — great dinner conversation LOL!

Our waitress offered to take our photo – and ended up standing on a chair behind a booth to capture this family moment. She said we were one of her favorite tables she had served – how sweet!

Last time I was around this little guy, he was in Romina’s tummy when she was in my wedding last year! Look how much he’s grown up — I love the curls and those cheeks!

Glad we got together at the Profeta’s on Saturday night, so the kids could play while the adults could try to catch up on the time that we’ve been apart.

Oh my goodness! The youngest Ruselink, I totally enjoyed meeting the little boy who shares the same name as our Godson – Jacob Richard!

Jeff and I served up beverages in the basement, courtesy of Charlie Sheen

If Charlie Sheen as Bartender wasn’t unsettling enough, Romina suddenly sprouted a pair of horns

And if the last 2 pics weren’t disconcerting enough, Beatle pulls out the big guns here with the Sheen ear kiss…

Old friends reunited! We tried to FaceTime in our 4th compadre, Sarah, but missed each other this time – boo

Boys will be (cute) boys!

What a great family! Thanks for coming out, Ruselinks!

Grandma and her Grandson, Brian, during Sunday family get together at Chris & Jen’s

This is how we all “get together” in my family, since we all so spread out: Utilizing technology to chat, and all get an opportunity to wish my Dad a very “Happy Birthday” on his actual birthday

Some of the Michigan men of the family, chatting with the Florida family

Yeah, this usually happens at some point in the conversation as well. Classic. Love my nieces!

Our cousins, Marie with little Bianca, and new friend London!

I was so glad that my cousin, Krystal, and her little Bianca also came to join us — I can’t remember when I last saw Krystal, and never had met sweet and funny Bianca!

We wished a Happy Birthday to Grandma, Jennifer, and Dad

How nice of Aunt Karen and Uncle Bob to come into town for a visit! Wish we would’ve had more time to visit, but really enjoyed the time we had nonetheless!

Our great host & hostess, Chris & Jen, with Grandma

I love this pic of two that I love!

After all these years, childhood friends back together again. So great to visit with Jenny again, and pick back up where we left off

Another dear childhood friend, Heather, that we were able to reconnect with. You know it’s been too long when you can’t recognize each other’s voices! So glad we could see you this time around!

And one BONUS PIC… My cousin, Marie, ever so thoughtful, so sweetly finds new ways to honor the memory of my Mother. Besides Au Gratin potatoes and a delish Lemon Cake for lunch, she brought this great photo for me to have. It is of my Mom and Grandma together at a wedding in what we think was 2007. Simply beautiful!

Mom and Grandma – they resembled each other so much!

Thanks, friends and family, for the wonderful time to reminisce over old memories and make fabulous new ones!

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