It’s New Year’s Day…


Winter Run in Kalamazoo…

It’s New Year’s Day. Everyone is closing the book on 2015 and pressing on to 2016 – excited to have 365 blank open pages. But I’m still struggling a bit looking back at the whirlwind week and the sadness that accompanied our Michigan trip this year. On a recent 28-degree run in Kalamazoo, my sister bundled me up like she would one of her third grade students, and got me outside for a few miles. She knew exactly what I needed – and frankly, we both needed it. It was then on that wintery run, that I finally turned a corner.  Maybe it was the endorphins, maybe it was the fresh air, maybe it was sister time? But I felt like I was starting to heal….

November 14th we found out my Grandma was sick and on December 24th we said goodbye. It was so fast. But I was blessed to be in town with her one last time before she let go on Christmas Eve… It was like she was waiting for us to be together once more? I’m fortunate to be surrounded by family during this time and lifted up by so many dear friends.  Also, I’m thankful as I look back at the opportunity to be home for Thanksgiving this year where my siblings and I had many precious moments with Gram  – those are memories that I’ll always hold dear.


Visiting Gram at Thanksgiving this year

The last thing she said to me was, “I love you too …give smooches to the pooches.”  Oh, melt my heart.

She was amazing in every way and was always so interested in everything we were doing. I would share about life in Dallas and my latest athletic pursuits. Her and Oscar would take my marathon finish times and figure out how many mph I was running and reply like most, “We don’t even drive that far!”

I also shared about…

Triathlons (as I was learning myself) and she couldn’t understand why cycling was so hard for me, “Jules, the swimming sounds much harder?” I would just laugh knowing she was right!

Jimmy Buffett – Each spring I would explain to her that the Jimmy Buffett concert was more about the tailgate than the actual concert. She replied, “I think I saw him once in concert?  And I have no doubt she did… She lived a full and exciting life! One that I admire.

Simon Olympics – I would tell Gram all about Simon Olympics – even the drinking games! She got on board right away making yard game suggestions and even sent a sweet card asking if she could come to the party too? Perhaps golf ball toss ladder swing will make an appearance this year in her honor 😉


Our Malti-Poo, Otis!

Malti-poos – The year we got Otis, Gram hadn’t heard of a Malti-poo. I had to explain to her that Otis was a mix of a Maltese and Poodle. “That’s something I haven’t heard of before?”  I think she was uncertain of anything that wasn’t a purebred … But once she met little Otis, she was won-over. (Like most people are!) After that, she would constantly ask about both little puppies!

Gluten Free – I tried to explain my gluten free lifestyle to Gram several times but she easily confused it with “no-carb.” And, of course that had a lot of negative talk in the media so that worried her! And every time we were on the phone she would ask me what I was going to eat? Or, what I had for breakfast, lunch, etc? “Do you like Oatmeal, bananas?” She would ask? “I hear that’s good for athletes?” Bless her heart!

iPhone – My grandma was probably one of the only people I knew with a landline still. Even though she was resistant to new technology, we brought it to her anyway with our own devices. Watching Gram FaceTime and see pictures instantly appear with the iPhone camera was just precious!!


Yes, she loved to hear from us and see what was new and interesting in our lives. But more importantly, I learned more from Gram than I even realized!

The Power Nap – When I was little Gram would tuck me in to her recliner with a blanket insisting that a quick nap would “make me feel like brand new.” It wasn’t until college that I started to believe her…and realized this was code for “adult happy hour” for her! 😉

Golf – I took golf lessons at Berrien Hills Country Club on more than one occasion growing up. I know Gram kept up the lessons for me secretly hoping I would be a good golfer like her… But, my golf career ended with a snow cone at the snack shack. However, I must thank Gram for my ability to kick serious tail at Top Golf now!! I’ve got one helluva swing today 🙂

Cocktail hour – Now, Gram taught me that cocktail hour was an important part of winding down from any hard day. I completely agree. And she let me steal sips from her drink now and then too… It was our little secret! 😉

A Good Handbag – Gram LOVED handbags. The golf didn’t stick but the love for handbags sure did! She had a different bag for every season and each occasion. Every time we went shopping we would shop for new handbags together! She always told me your purse and your shoes tell the most about you… I agree.

Pepper Spray – Each time I raced she couldn’t wait to hear how I did and would ask for pictures.  I made sure to send the good ones… The ones where it didn’t look like I was struggling too bad, so mile 1-2? 😉 She worried a lot and I didn’t want her to get concerned. But it didn’t help. For example,  Gram sent me a whistle and pepper spray when I started running competitively 😉


The Farmers Country Club today- Grandma owned for 20+ years!

“Grandmas Drink” – When I become of legal age to drink I didn’t really know any other cocktails to order other than “grandmas drink” So, my first legal drink was Vodka Tonic. Not much has changed….

Safety & Security – Gram was always big on security. I learned “don’t use your birthdate for your home security system… Someone could read your mail, get your birthday, break in and steal everything in your home.” Got it Gram….;-)

Jewelry –  Gram would always wear the most amazing jewelry – she truly glittered. But, what I remember most isn’t the ice – it’s a gold Mickey Mouse watch that she would wear when she was with me. Mickey’s arms were the hands on the watch and it was a gold-on-gold face – keeping it classy 😉 Dress to your audience, dress to the event. Yes indeed!


Visiting Blossomland – Gram & Joe’s Business

Grandma’s Cooking – Gram’s fridge was always full – like really full! She whipped up the most amazing meals out of “whatever was in the fridge” I did not inherit the love for cooking or the skills to make amazing meals… But I will keep a full fridge because, you never know who might stop by? Right Gram?

Urgent vs Important – I had this habit of always replying to Gram that we were “very busy” every time we spoke. She would remind me to slow down and remember to pay attention to what’s important, not necessarily what’s urgent. I’m starting to understand that more now…

Be Real – I loved her frank and blunt personality – she would always tell you what she was thinking. I may not be as bold as Gram, but I think people always appreciate hearing the real you.



Christmas 2014 – St. Joseph, Michigan

Yes, she taught me a lot about life, hard work, living life to the fullest and going after what you really want. She would tell me this often and reminded me when I needed it the most. So much of who I am stemmed from this amazing lady… I’m incredibly proud to be her Granddaughter and live on with what she has taught me.

So as we say goodbye to 2015 and to the precious lady I called Gramdma, I’ll hold onto these lessons, memories and hope for a few more “healing runs” to help me along the way….


Julie SimonIt’s New Year’s Day…

Comments 2

  1. Nancy Hunter

    Julie, what a wonderful tribute to your Grandmother. She has left such beautiful memories for you. You were lucky to have been blessed with this remarkable woman.

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