JoAnn A. Arnold
March 19, 1944 – October 2, 2020
Survived by sons, Scott W. Greger (Marcy) and Christopher A. “Chris” Greger (Melina); six grandchildren; one great-grandchild; brothers, Erwin Havranek (Deb) and Erhard Havranek (Elisa); sister, Kathy Havranek (Mike).
CHANGE IN LOCATION:
VISITATION observing CDC Guidelines begins Tuesday, October 6th at 9am at St. Gerald Catholic Church, 9602 “Q” St. in Ralston followed by MASS OF CHRISTIAN BURIAL at 10am. Interment, Evergreen Memorial Park. Memorials will be directed by the family. To view live broadcasts of the Mass and Graveside Service go to www.heafeyheafey.com and click the “View Live Service” button on the home page.
On Mother’s Day 2020 my kids and I surprised my Mom with an outdoor, socially distanced celebration. Mom had been quarantining in her house for months. It was the kids’ idea. They wanted to see their Grandma. On that day, Annabelle said something that summed up my Mom’s contribution to her and her brothers’ lives. Talking about Mom and Don’s house Annabelle said, “We grew up here.”
That they did.
Now, usually these essays celebrating the life of a loved one paint a picture of the greatest human ever to walk the Earth. The recently deceased was always kind to everyone, donated to charity, never raised their voice, etc. Those essays are clearly not accurate. This essay will be 100% the truth.
Every human has countless flaws. My mother was human. She frustrated me often with her stubbornness. She held grudges. The “homemade pizza” she made in my childhood will haunt my dreams forever. She was far from perfect.
Yet she was the best Grandmother I have ever seen. I cannot imagine a way she could have done more for me and my children over the last 27 years.
On Mother’s Day, when my kids said about Mom’s house, “We grew up here.”, it is because THEY DID! Annabelle and Rollie were born 17 months apart. Parenting two toddlers was exhausting. As new parents we often needed a break. We would call Mom, and she would be there for us. Things were getting much easier as those two grew older. Then, in September of 2003, Reed was born, and things got complicated again. So, so many times we needed help. Mom was always there to help take care of her grandkids. No. That’s not 100% true. Between 1993 and 2015 (when Reed no longer needed a babysitter), we called Mom 1,000,006 times to ask for her help. That number may not be accurate, buy it is close. Twice during those 22 years… TWICE… she was unable to help. Both times she told us, “No”, she was devastated. Both requests were last minute, “Can you come over now so we can go out?” requests. Both times she was literally walking out the door to attend an important event. We had to talk her out of skipping a friend’s 60th birthday party, because she DID NOT want to pass up even one opportunity to be with her grandchildren. If we called Mom early in the week and asked if she could watch the kids that weekend, she would not even let us finish the question before she would say, “YES!” If, on a Tuesday night, we felt like going to a movie, we could call Mom and she would be at our house within half an hour. She and Don took Belle and Rollie to California. She took us all to Vala’s, to the Pizza Machine, to the zoo and out to eat as often as we would agree to go. She was ALWAYS there for us.
On Mother’s Day her grandkids talked more about how they felt when they were at Mom’s house. (Don was a great Grandpa and an EXCELLENT husband to my Mom). But, I think, in their minds, my kids were there to be with their Grandma. They talked about the question that they always asked my Mom whenever they went to her house to spend the night. With hopeful anticipation they would ask Mom, “HOW MANY NIGHTS?!” They wanted to be with her as long as possible. When they were little, from their perspective she was the best Grandma ever, and on Mother’s Day 2020 those feelings had not diminished.
More things are popping into my head. The day Rollie’s 6-year-old hockey team was scheduled to play at Aksarben between periods at a Lancer game, we were CRUSHED that we had plans we could not cancel. When Mom heard that she went into action. She had me teach her how to put Rollie’s hockey gear on (not an easy process with a 6-year-old). She and Don took him to the game, got his equipment on and off and took great pictures of him getting the Lancer players’ autographs on the back of a pizza box.
Here’s another one! On the day Reed was born I had arranged to have a Mother’s ring made with the birthstones of my three kids. However, we did not know if Reed was a boy or a girl, and his birthstone came in both pink and blue. So, the jeweler was waiting with two stones. Mom delayed seeing Reed so that she could be at the jeweler when he was born. After Reed was born, I snuck away as soon as I could and called the jeweler. Mom waited as the final stone was set then covertly delivered the ring to me at the hospital. She sacrificed being at the hospital to see Reed as soon as she could, because I needed her help to get that ring to the hospital and present that gift on the day of Reed’s birth.
She did EVERYTHING she could do for me and her grandkids!
If I sit here long enough, I will never stop remembering things Mom did for me and my kids.
I do not know what type of friend my mother was. Only her friends can speak to that. I do not know what kind of coworker she was, what kind of neighbor, etc. Each of us saw a certain version of my Mom. While I acknowledge that she was not perfect in any of those roles, I am certain we all have far more pleasant memories of her than not.
But as a Grandmother my Mom SHINED! If Jesus Himself ever reached down, touched a person and whispered into their ear what they were on this Earth to do, He surely told my Mom, “You are here to be a Grandmother.”
My first grandchild was born just over three months ago. Her name is “Demi”. Because of COVID Mom got to hold her only one day. I have never known Mom to be as happy as she was that day.
Mom’s time as a Grandparent was coming to an end, and mine was beginning. During her last few hours of life, I talked to her about what she had shown me, about how much she had taught me. I thanked her for making me the man I am today. I always hold open doors for ladies, because Mom taught me to. She knew all about that. So, in our last day together I talked about the kind of Grandfather I would strive to be. I told her, “Thank you”, for showing me how to be a grandparent, for caring for my children more than anyone else, for teaching me through her actions just how good a grandparent can be. I promised her that I would use her example to guide my life for the next few decades. I told her that if I ever was unsure how to be a quality Grandpa I would always think, “What would Mom do?”.
If I am a good man, it is largely because of my mother. If I evolve into a quality grandfather, then it will be thanks to her example.
Mom, we will always love you. We will always be thankful for you. We will always be indebted to you. And one day, when they see you again, your grandchildren will undoubtedly smile and excitedly ask you if they can stay with you forever. Like they did before they will ask you, “How many nights?”
Until then, we can say only one thing, “Thank you, Grandma JoAnn.”