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Thank You For The Hat: An Open Letter To Annie

Dear Annie,

On September 9th, you left sisters, colleagues, friends, children and grandchildren behind as you took your place in Heaven with our Lord. After a long battle with Lung Cancer, nobody blames you for being ready for such a sweet release. Even though we can’t imagine a world where you aren’t here with us, we felt a happiness for you. It brings us great comfort to know that you are no longer in pain and have returned to your former glory. I can only imagine the hat selection they must have for you up there…

You were always such a cool Grandma. Spoiled us rotten, loved us endlessly, and never let us call you Grandma. That’s just cool. Always Annie and never Grandma, you seemed to be eternally young. We were all surprised when something came along that could actually slow you down. I’m sorry we didn’t find a cure for you soon enough, but I promise we will never stop trying.

The service in your honor was so beautiful. Friends and family alike gathered and recounted the many ways you had changed their lives for good. It was small and intimate (but don’t worry, it was packed!). It was so full of love, music, and beautiful words that filled our hearts with both joy and sadness, as we said goodbye. During “God Be With You” we invited your guests to wear one of your hats and pins as a tribute to your memory. Did you know you had 62 hats?! And more than double that many pins! Did you also know that I can hardly a remember a single day of your life that you weren’t wearing a hat and a pin? You will forever be remembered in a hat, and the tribute in your name was beautiful and meant everything to so many of us.

At your gravesite, the bagpiper played 2 verses of Amazing Grace, and as he started the 3rd verse, he turned and slowly walked away and played until we could hear him no more, painfully cementing the reality of your passing. I don’t think my heart has ever been so overtaken with sorrow. We will miss you and your vibrant love of life.

I have good news though, and I know you’d want to hear it. The evening of your funeral, we gathered as Mother and Sisters. With hearts full of love, remembrance and sorrow, we sat together and looked through ALL of your jewelry and hat pins, one by one. We laughed and recollected when we’d seen you wear each one. Mom even let us take a couple as keepsakes. I think I got the best one. It brought us closer to you and to each other. That’s a legacy you left behind that will never be forgotten. It was a night where new traditions were born and memories were made, that will always have a special place in my heart.

Annie, I want to say thank you for giving us that special night. Thank you for leaving us with happy memories in the midst of the loss and sorrow we’re feeling as we learn to live in a world where you are no longer with us. Thank you for being so wonderfully quirky and allowing us to see that it is not only okay, but a gift to be such an individual and so unique. You were truly special.

And thank you for the hat.

I love you, I miss you. I will see you soon.




2 comments… add one
  • Heather Quisel September 24, 2017, 3:22 pm

    Happy memories in the midst of loss… so good, Leah. Thank you for this :)

  • Macs September 26, 2017, 9:36 am

    Thank you for sharing this story. Very inspiring on how grateful people can be despite of their loss. Truly, acceptance is one of things that keep us from stilling the hurt. I am so happy that you were able to cope up despite of the loss. Keep moving forward and for sure she is more than happy seeing you all moving on.

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