Love Lost but Not Forgotten

Recently my grandmother Isle W. Coppotelli, or Grammy to me, passed away. It has been so difficult for me to process for a number of reasons. She taught me so much about etiquette, style, and sports. Grammy was my hero and I am so thankful for all the years I was able to spend with her. My grandmother had Alzhiemers and it was heartbreaking to know of her losing her memories in addition to her body not being able to cope with getting older. My youngest cousin is more than 20 years my junior and it makes me so sad to think her younger grandchildren never got to have the same kind of relationship I was able to with her. So here is my small tribute to my Grammy – I will always keep you in my heart.

 

Grammy’s Childhood – My grandmother grew up in the small town of Hoya in Nazi Germany. Her father was a train conductor and her brother was in the army. All of her immediate family members died during the war. Grammy didn’t talk much of her time in Germany – but one of the things I remember her always talking about is how on Christmas morning she would be so excited to have fresh fruit and nuts for a Christmas gift. When Grammy was 12 years old after the war ended she made her journey alone to the US to live with some relatives who adopted her in Brooklyn. I can only imagine how difficult her childhood was growing up during such a destructive war. Once in the US, Grammy lived with very strict adoptive parents and also often dealt with discrimination at school. However, since she spoke multiple languages and was very bright, she was able to use her abilities to tutor her classmates, make friends, and even skipped a grade. She is a shining example of how to blossom once given the opportunity to do so. 

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{Grammy and her brother Johann}

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{My grandparents on their wedding day}

My Early Years – I have the pleasure of being the oldest grandchild on both sides of the family – and it’s not even close. This awarded me to have a very special bond with both sets of grandparents. I was born in New York City and my Grammy lived in Long Island at the time. I was fortunate to spend a lot of time with her growing up. She never left the house without lipstick on and her outfit put together. I remember her taking me on walks with my bike. Running back and forth over and over trying to get kites to fly. Teaching me to cook in the kitchen with her. Setting the table using German words. Butterfly kisses and singing “You Are My Sunshine”. Also, she loved to play games – especially cards. We learned to gamble at a pretty young age using popcorn with her and it was a total blast. She traveled to see me at a million swim meets where I was always able to pick out her voice from the water. I will miss her saving a seat for me at family dinners, our secret good-bye wave, and all the wonderful one-on-one moments I used to have with her. Even as our family grew in numbers she always made sure to have special time with just me.

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{My grandparents watched me swim in Ft. Lauderdale when I was about 14}

Adult Years – As I grew older and moved from my parents’ house to college, I didn’t see her as much as I used to and that was hard. But we talked on the phone a good bit and I looked more to her for advice. We also still had so many special moments. Grammy even came to have Thanksgiving with me at my apartment in college. She attended my graduation and even met me at the airport after I studied abroad. My grandmother was able to attend my wedding and right before I walked down the aisle she came to see me, gave me her diamond tennis bracelet to wear, and wished me luck down the aisle. I can still feel this warm embrace with her in her fur coat so tiny and cold. A year later I called her to let her know that Drew and I were pregnant with our first child. I can still hear her cheering “Yes! Yes! Yes!!” at the good news. Grammy was able to travel to my first home and held her first great grandchild in her arms. Shortly before my second child Noli was born my grandfather, Grammy’s husband, died. He was her world and it tore her apart. She quickly spiraled into a confusing world of Alzheimers. However she held on strong for another 5 years. 

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{On my wedding day…}

Leaving a Legacy – My grandmother is leaving behind her three children, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Grammy was a wonderful lady, who loved her family ferociously. She was always in awe watching her family grow and who could blame her after the childhood she experienced. In my home I try to keep some of her same traditions that I learned as a child. We eat at her table and under her Tiffany’s lamp. We always have fresh flowers and sing “You Are My Sunshine” every night at bedtime. At night we listen to her coo-coo clock and tell family stories. I will never forget her teaching me how to look someone in the eye and shake their hand hard enough to earn their respect but not emasculate them. I still remember her marriage advice of “Let him win… sometimes.” I will never stop dancing, singing or smiling in honor of her. 

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{Meeting their first great grand}

I know I will miss her every day. In fact, it has been pretty dark since she has been gone. I am so thankful for all the memories and time I was able to spend with her. I can only wish that my cousins had the same experience. I hope that by sharing stories about her they will learn about how extraordinary she was for our family. One day I hope to be as amazing of a grandmother to my grandchildren as she was to me. So auf wiedersehen Grammy – you will forever be in my heart. 

Lauren Cop is a part-time SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) of Irish Twins and Senior writer/editor ciao_laurencop_sig-01of the Olive Shoe Blog. Currently Lauren and her family live in Tallahassee, FL where she teaches at a local pre-school. A Clemson fanatic, alumni and general sports enthusiast. She loves reading, gardening, food, and traveling. Follow her Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

The Olive Shoe | Paperie & Design | Celebrating Creativity and Creatively Celebrating is designed and run by Lauren {LAC} James © 2015 LAC James All Rights Reserved.

Lauren {LAC} James is a Sr. Designer of Product Graphics for an international manufacturing company by day and a creativity crusader, designer, planner extraordinaire, artist and blogger in her “free” time. Follow her and The Olive Shoe on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram! Pleasesubscribe to receive emails, of course, come back and visit again soon!

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