9:48 AM

According to my baby book, you were the recipient of my very first smile. "Not just gas, but a real smile." Over the years, you received many, many more.

During the years you worked as a school nurse, we saw a steady stream of textbooks, notebooks and attendance books (excellent for playing school), as well as the occasional jump rope--you knew the ones with the plastic covers made the best sounds when they hit pavement, even though they hurt like hell if they got caught in your hair.

You let my sister and I play in your jewelry box, though I suspect you hid most of your rosaries from us when Madonna became famous.

We all teased you about the number of candles lit for any occasion--yet we always called if we were worried or hoping for something, as the Good Lord seemed to take special notice of the light and prayers you passed along.

And now, I'm off to light a candle for you. It seems the most appropriate thing I can do right now. You were a woman of faith, and would tell me that the end of our earthly journey is just the beginning of our eternal walk with God and reunion with those who went before.

Grandma, you were the first person I smiled at. And I just want you to know that I'll always be smiling at you.

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