Passing of my grandmother, my genealogy inspiration

This morning my 99 year old grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Cronin Raynor, passed away in her sleep.

At the ripe old age of 99, you don't exactly mourn the passing of a loved one - Grandma lived a long and happy life, filled with love and surrounded by family, and that's all any of us can really hope for in this life. Of course, living almost a century comes with some heartache as well - she lived to see most of her friends and family go before her. She outlived her husband, my grandfather, Clifford Monroe Raynor, by almost 23 years, and she had to live through the death of her youngest daughter, my mother, Margaret, almost 14 years ago, so I know she was ready whenever her time came. But she also lived to see her grandchildren grow up, get jobs, marry, have children of their own. I am forever grateful that she was well enough to attend my baby shower last year, where she gave me one of my favorite gifts, ever - an afghan, hand made by her mother. And one of the best days was when I got to introduce my daughter, her first great-granddaughter, to her last summer, and I loved watching them laugh and play together every time we went to visit. I am sorry my daughter won't remember her great-grandmother, but I am so happy that I have pictures of them together and that I can tell her, "You always made Great-Grandma smile, and boy, did she love you!"

My grandmother was our original family genealogist. She is the reason I became interested in genealogy. She is the one who got our tree started, who handed me the information and tools I needed to continue on my own. She is the one who got me hooked, who introduced me to what has become one of my life's passions. She is the one who told me stories about her childhood and about her parents and grandparents and my grandfather and his parents. She is the one who asked how my research was going and who I could talk to about some of the exciting discoveries I made. I am heartbroken that she is gone and forever grateful that she gave me the gift of genealogy.

My grandmother was a devout Catholic. I don't know what I believe about the afterlife, but whatever it is, I hope my grandfather and my mother were there to greet her on the other side, and that all our ancestors - those she and I knew about and those I have yet to discover but who are hopefully introducing themselves to her even now as I type -  welcomed her with smiling faces and open arms.

Grandma, I am so thankful for all the years I got to spend with you. I will always continue working on our family tree, to pass down to my grandchildren like you passed it down to me - I will miss you always, till we meet again.

Great-Grandma and Elena meeting for the first time, summer 2013.

Baby me and my grandmther, 1979.