Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Saying Goodbye is Not Final

In my book, THESE WALLS CAN TALK, which was originally titled THE DINER ON THIRD, my protagonist Leia Angeletti is very close with her grandmother. She visits Grandma Jack often at the nursing home and does her best to reach her grandmother through the fog of Alzheimer's.

The character Grandma Jack was based on my grandmother, Anne Goerman Farneth. Yesterday, she passed away at the age of 73.

With my grandparents Anne and Clarence Farneth on the day I graduated from Valley High School in New Kensington. They adopted me and two of my siblings when our mother died in 1997.

My family and I spent the afternoon at the funeral home discussing arrangements, including the obituary. We toiled over how it would be worded. Would we list that she adopted three of her grandchildren, me included, when she lost her youngest daughter (their mother) to illness? In what order would we list the many relatives who preceded her in death? Should the grandchildren be listed by name?

The questions seemed silly. Did it really matter, I wondered? But I realized in a way, it did. The funeral director said, "This will be the last thing written about Anne." It would be the final record of her life.

Final record.

I don't mean this as a joke, but that sounds so final. And it shouldn't be.

Anne Goerman McSherry Farneth lived 73 years in a town called New Kensington. She had three children, seven step-children, 23 grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren. She worked as a bookkeeper, grocery story cashier, and volunteered in the cafeteria of her grandchildren's school. She was infinitely proud of her family's heritage of starting the first local newspaper and the first local fire company in the 1800s. She was beautiful, loving, and flawed. In her 73 years, she touched the lives' of thousands of people, and her life boils down to a one-column obituary?

She deserves more, and even if this humble blog is my only platform to deliver that, I will gladly do it. So all this week, I'll be sharing stories of my gram. And all my life, I'll be missing her.

Thanks for allowing me to share her with you.


  1. Thanks so much for honoring your grandmother. I will try to read your blog each day.
    Bless you as you process your grief and allow your memories to be written down.

  2. Thanks, Penny. I appreciate your support and your willingness to hear my gram's stories.

  3. Very nice tribute, Tamara. Your grandmother sounds like a wonderful person. And I bet she was very proud of you!

    I didn't know you lost your mother at a young age--both my parents died young.

  4. Thanks, Joyce. Sorry to hear that about your parents. I didn't realize.

  5. Tamara, I'm so sorry Ann passed on. You and the family are in my thoughts and prayers. We love you Tim and Lynne

  6. I'm so sorry, Tamara. You not only honor her in your blog, but by how you live your life.

    Sending you cyber hugs.

  7. Hi, Aunt Lynne, Uncle Tim, and Annette. Thank you for your prayers and support.