My grandmother, Juana Alonso Krischel, died this morning at her home in Bridgeport, Connecticut. She was nearly 95 years old. She was born in Oras, Eastern Samar, Philipines, named Juana Banzon Alonso. She is now buried in Mt. Grove Cemetery, Bridgeport, Connecticut.
I never spent much time with her, but I know she cared for me dearly. I can still remember the few summers after my parent’s divorce when me and my brother would go and visit. I remember her being around during that phase of potty training that required assistance with wiping. I remember her giving me a bath with a cool whip container, splashing water over my head playing “submarine”. I remember her house, and its smells, its nooks and crannies. I remember watching SpaceGhost on the TV downstairs. I remember her tickling my back, and teaching my brother and I how to pray before going to sleep. I remember her riding with me and my brother on the Matterhorn at disneyland, freaking out but still willing to be there with us.
The last time I saw her was probably five years ago. I took my son up to visit her, and got to spend some time with her before her steep decline. Today, I was able to speak my last words to her on the phone (she couldn’t respond), told her I loved her, that me and my family were going to be just fine, and that she could let go.
Over the past five years, much of what she had worked for in her life has been whittled away. Of course there were legitimate expenses, but as a woman who spent her life trusting people, there was also waste and abuse of her trust. It appears at this point that her dream of leaving her son Tony with the means to maintain himself in the home they have lived in for over 55 years is going to be unfulfilled. My uncle Tony is special needs, and although independent in many ways, does not now have the financial security that his mother hoped he would have when she passed away. Most likely, the house will be sold, and he’ll have to move into an institution. His brother, Bill, is in no position to take care of him, although my brother, Jon may be able to.
In the final estimation, her death was a blessed release from suffering. Both her physical and mental health had deteriorated significantly over the past few years, and she deserved her final rest.
I am not the good Catholic boy my grandmother hoped for. But her prayers for me and my family, to be happy, healthy, responsible, loving, and secure have definitely been answered. Although she was disappointed by her second son, time and time again, as he continually relied on her for rescue without learning the lessons of independence, responsibility, honesty and honor, both of her adult grandchildren have turned out well, graduating from college, providing for their families, and making a positive difference in the lives of others. As she looks down from whatever vantage point she now maintains, hopefully her influence can inspire her third grandson to follow in his brother’s footsteps, rather than his father’s.
My grandmother was not a perfect woman, but she was pious, generous, and left this world a better place than it was when she entered it. She will be missed by many still here, and will surely be welcomed warmly by many who have passed on before her.