...and so we say goodbye for now.

Tomorrow morning we will wake up early. Get all 3 babies dressed in their color coordinated outfits, love them, kiss them, pack a bag of goodies that I pray will keep them quite through a one hour mass, and be prepared to answer alot of questions. We are going to their Grandmas funeral.

On Sunday morning my mother in law Helen, or "Mama Manno" as I called her, passed away after a 20 month battle with cancer. She led an extraordinary life that I would love to tell you a little about.

She was married to the same man for 51 years. She was the mother of 9 children, and I married her baby, Jimmy. It's always been the running joke in the family that Jimmy is a momma's boy. Let me tell you, that is an understatement.

I couldn't do justice to the connection between Jimmy and his mom with words. It's not something I can describe, it's something you had to see for yourself. A big part of his healing is comfort in the fact that he knows he did everything he could for her while she was here. He has zero regrets. He will never ever carry the burden of "I should have visited more, I should have called more, I should have done this or that" because life is about the little things like dropping off a piece of cheesecake we bring home from dinner, or calling her to celebrate when Pujols hits a grand slam. It was so much more than a mother-son relationship. They were best friends. Best, best friends. I am grateful for the example he has set for our children, especially our son Rocky. If our kids treat me with half the gentle love and care he gave his mom, I will be one blessed mommy.

She loved to dance, I can remember winning her heart in her kitchen as "Jimmy's new girlfriend" when I could do side by side "time steps' with her (tap dancing term) on the kitchen floor.

She loved to cook and had every grocery store in town memorized. I can't count the number of times I would call her on the phone and say "Where does Shop and Save keep the Olives?" and she would know better than the employees, what aisle, what side, and what shelf.

Mama Manno and my Grandma Sally (who passed away 3 years ago) were cut from the same cloth. They were close to the same age and at any family event you can bet they would migrate to one another and sit and talk the whole time.

They both shared a devoted and faithful love to the St Louis Cardinals. A couple years ago when they built the new stadium we took them together to a game. It was one of the best memories I will ever have in my whole life. The weather was gorgeous, our seats were phenomenal, and the Cardinals? Well, they won that game. I have a feeling Mama Manno and Grandma Sally have their angels wings parked right above Busch Stadium and they no doubt have the best seats in the house.

In the last years and months of her life she often complained about how bad it stunk to grow old and how much she despised her old failing body. I'm happy in my heart to know she has shed that burden and now spends her days truly free.

My husband was the one who found her Sunday morning. Which was fitting, he was the last baby she brought into this world and he was the first one to be there when she left. In the end, she died an old lady, warm in her bed, in a house she'd lived in for 40 plus years. She watched her 9 children produce 14 grandchildren. She spent her final days surrounded by the huge family she created sobbing, laughing, sharing stories, and bonding. She did it the way you're suppose to.

So, are we sad? Yes. We will miss her? Yes. Do I sorta want to give the middle finger to this whole "Circle of Life" crap? You Betcha. But if you tilt your head and squint a little bit and see it from a little different perspective the whole thing was pretty damn beautiful.

I love you Mama Manno, and yes, I will take care of your "Baby",

Love, Your 10th kid.


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