Memories and Loss

My grandmother, Carol Ann Duefrene, passed away on December 2, 2017, at 12:40 in the morning.

I am not okay. I’m pretty good at pretending to be okay, but I can’t with this. I am going through the motions that you are supposed to do for living life and moving on. I have continued to go on, but parts of me feel stuck when I got the phone call and just. Crumpled.

I’m not going to vent out everything I’m going through. It’s a lot, and I am still processing. Instead, I’m going to share her favorite memory of the two of us.

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When I was roughly nine or ten months old, my parents wanted to go to Disneyland. Laller offered to come because she loved spending time with me and one of her favorite things to do was people watch at Disneyland.  Shortly after entering the park, my mom and dad took off for something, and Laller took me through the exit of Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. The exit of that attraction is a rather clean, nice, large, air-conditioned room and had plenty of time for a freshly crawling baby to wear themselves out. She put me on the floor to let me explore my heart’s content while she rested on a bench.

It’s always been unclear who came in first. After about 15 minutes, either Minnie Mouse or Daisy Duck had popped their head in briefly, before going into the room. They were followed by Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Pluto and either Chip or Dale. And all of these large headed, anthropomorphic characters surrounded the ten-month me very slowly, and very carefully, and started to play with me. We played peekaboo, I’d crawl from one to another and boop their noses. This went on for about twenty minutes before one of them realized they had to be somewhere. So they left. And I tried to follow. This was also the moment that Laller fully appreciated I was going to be a pain in the ass as I grew up.

***

She told me this story more often than she did any other one. There was also when she walked me into a pool to wake me up (she claimed I knew what I was doing – I claim nothing makes sense and I was going through the motions of getting ready). When we went to Hearst Castle and San Diego. Seeing shows around Los Angeles.

Laller helped raise me. She helped shape the person I am. She wasn’t alone. I can’t forget Val, my adoptive Russian grandmother whom I lost in 2011. But nothing could have prepared me for this loss. Knowing she was sick. Knowing she was dying. Knowing that Laller hasn’t been Laller for well over a year now.

I wasn’t ready for that call. I wasn’t ready for this.

My last moments with her was an hour before she was gone. I was injured, due to the clumsiest injury one can manage at work, and standing was painful. She was in her full burrito mode. I hobbled to her to give her a hug, and a kiss. I told her I love her.

I am going to miss her every day.

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D23 and the Fanniversary

Last month I was given something that I have yearned to have for years – a D23 Gold membership. The gift was specifically a family membership, so that when events come around I can bring more than one person with me. There is an assortment of events and fun things that come with this membership, such as recipes on the website, an annual gift, tours of the Disney Archive and Lot.

Last Friday I attended my first event with my best friend. A special screening of Beauty and the Beast at the El Capitan theater. 20160902_2108590

 

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It was kind of like a dream come true for me. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie. It’s the first one I can remember seeing in theaters when I was three years old. It’s the one Disney movie and soundtrack that I have always gone to when I needed that pick me up that only Disney can provide, and I can’t make it to either the Disney District in Anaheim or the local Disney store. Or heck – even just sitting near one of the Disney campuses has proven to be helpful.

For the event – not only did we get to see the original theatrical version of the film, but we were surprised with appearances by Producer Don Hahn.

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And Jo Anne Worley, the voice of the Wardrobe!

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Both gave a wonderfully delightful inside peek at what it was like working for the film while being hilarious and entertaining. Seeing the movie in theaters for the first time since I was a little girl was an experience. It was like I was seeing it for the first time, cocooned in w0nder and magic that I haven’t experienced in such a long time. I cried, I laughed, I cheered when the Castle overtook the villagers. And I just enjoyed myself. This gift was more than I could have ever imagined. It was a perfect first experience for this club. I really could not have asked for a better experience.

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The Fanniversary is always focused on one thing that is important to Disney history. This year the Fanniversary is Beauty and the Beast. The website has recipes based off of the film, craft ideas, and behind the scenes looks at the creation of the original film as it celebrates its 25th anniversary, but the live action version coming out early next year. The end of this event every member and guest there was given a gift – a set of three postcards with art drawn for this event. They are treasured works of art awaiting frames to go on my wall or bookshelves.

I am so grateful to the friend who got me such an amazing gift. I don’t know if I can every fully express just how much this membership has already meant to me, and everything that I have gotten from it. I cannot wait to see what else the D23 club has in store. Or for the live action Beauty and the Beast next year.