A Different Sort of Journey

I had planned to post one of our recent Vieques adventures today, but my sweet fireball of a grandma, Mary Dugan, passed away last night.  Kind of appropriate that she died on Thanksgiving, don’t you think?  She was, and will always be, a huge blessing in my life.  In honor of her life, I’m rerunning “Milestone 95” (below).  On Monday:  Another adventure from our recent time on Isla de Vieques (wild chickens, a floundering ferry boat, a bioluminescent bay… ?)

Originally posted on July 5, 2010

Milestone 95


On many days she dwells in the memories gathered in crossing ninety-five years. Her journey, begun in 1915, has been richer in people and experiences than in geographic destinations, but travel is travel, whether in distance or time.

A matriarch like no other, my Grandma Dugan also holds a bit of the little girl named Mary within her, making her a completely fascinating and compelling presence in my life. She snoozed through a recent visit having overexerted herself moments before making a break for some enticing flower beds beyond the safe edges of the care center’s outdoor patio. I love that she still finds satisfying a curiosity worth the considerable effort of propelling her wheelchair down a sidewalk.

Her smiles made me smile at her birthday party this past week. In her usual fashion, she flitted about the room greeting her guests, exclaiming at the purple decorations and enjoying all the special attention. When presented with the first slice of birthday cake she insisted I share it with her, bite for bite, enjoying it all the more for having divvied it with me.

Milestones. They encapsulate our memories and plant them in a place we can revisit at will. This year we have celebrated my oldest son’s high school graduation and the life of my Grandma Prior after her passing at age ninety-two. On June 30th we were privileged to honor the passing of but another year for Grandma Dugan. Ninety-five years and still counting…


“Favorite Memory, Favorite Gift”

“Traveling the ‘Mental Miles”

“Tis the Season…”

“Care Center Carols”

“Caroling at the Care Center”

7 Comments to A Different Sort of Journey

  1. Ah.. Heather, I am so sorry. I popped over here to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and I find your sad news:( I am sure you feel awful right now but I do hope you will soon be able to remember your grandma with all the joy that she so obviously gave you and all your family. It’s such a blessing, especially for our children, to grow up loving, learning and appreciating the older generations- I’m sure her legacy will be great. Take care now, Jane:)

  2. Thank you Jane. Heavy heart this morning, and it was a different sort of Thanksgiving, but I’m very thankful to have been with her. She has meant so much to all of us. My son Zach reminded me last night that grief is truly a gift – kind of a “measure of the meaning” of a relationship. In that context, I can be glad I feel her absence so sharply… And I do.

  3. ryan

    Deepest sympathies for you and those around you. I too had a good friend pass away yesterday. I was sad, but then thought, just think how awesome his celebration is going to be celebrating with Thanksgiving in heaven!

    Poker School

  4. Oh, Heather, I’m so sorry to read about the passing of your beloved Grandmother. You wrote such a nice memorial to her. The pictures tell the love you shared with her and she with all of you!

  5. Your son sounds like a very wise young man Heather:)

  6. Heather, so sorry for your loss. It’s people like your Grandma Dugan who make this world such a warm and welcoming place. The names of the really great ones are printed on our hearts, and not in the history books.

  7. Thank you, Ryan. My sorrow is selfish, I know. Her body was no fun to live in anymore. I don’t believe her Thanksgiving departure to be coincidental.
    Thanks Suzanne. And thanks for you supportive words these past two weeks…
    Jane: He is. Listen and learn, huh?
    NothingProfound: True words and what we all aim for, I guess. To make a difference in the lives around us. She did that for me. Even from a wheelchair in a nursing home, she “grandmothered”. I always left her, feeling beautiful in every possible way.

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