Our Memom: In memory of June L. Smith

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

My Memom passed away two years ago today. 
Here is Memom and I are when I was only a few months old. <3

Not a day goes by where I don't think of her. Her spirit, stories, humor, feistiness and love are in my blood. I know a lot of people don't believe in spirits, but I do. I can feel her and sense her often. We both share a special gift, a sixth sense that even creeps me out!! (I know some of you will not believe me, but I have it. My mom calls me a witch all the time. She has seen it.) Sometimes when I day dream about her I sometimes feel her hand on my shoulder. There is something about her hands that I can invision them perfectly in my mind, as if they were held right in front of my face. I often see Memom in my dreams -- in my dreams she looks happy and healthy, the Memom I like to remember, not her during her final days. Many of the dreams are of me when I was a little girl, sitting on her lap as we rock back-and-forth in her rocking chair. As my head lay on her lap and she uses her hands to tickle my back, we sit there together as one and in unison, we sing together "I love you, a bushel and a peck. A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck." 

I got this tattoo in memory of my Memom. It says "I love you. A bushel & a peck" with her initials J.S. at the bottom. 

Of course I have tons of memories of Memom but I thought it would be special to have other family memories express their feelings/memories/thoughts about June Smith; a woman who won over the hearts of many. Here is what they had to say.

Shelley Piccirilli (my mama, Memom's daughter) My mother was my best friend.  We played together and talked about everything.  She taught me to be strong and confident (as well as stubborn and always right).  Strong and confident has served me well.  The stubborn and "know it all" thing tends to make people really mad.  I miss her every day but especially at Christmas.  Growing up, we always had what we needed but not always what we wanted with the exception of Christmas.  Mom loved the holidays and somehow managed to make Christmas special every year.  I just saw an embroidered Winter Wonderland sweatshirt in size small which she would have rocked.  After all, she never wore an extra large!!!  What are you, some kind of a nut?!?! 

Missy Piccirilli (my sister) I think I miss Memom the most around Christmas. I loved how excited she would get about decorating. I loved looking at her mini Christmas tree ornaments. When I was a kid, I liked pulling the string on the big gold bell hanging in her dining room to make it play music. I miss her teaching me how to play Christmas songs on the organ and singing along with me. I miss her turkey cooked on the stovetop and crazy green stuffing at Christmas dinner, and her ridiculous excitement over pumpkin pie and my mom's sweetheart salad. My mom would make a huge gallon vat of sweetheart salad just for Memom, and she would eat it for days. My funniest Memom at Christmas memory is the year she wanted a leather jacket for Christmas. My mom bought her this really nice leather jacket, but it was a size or two too small. Memom loved this jacket and was going to make it fit. She went in to her bedroom to try it on, and when she came out wearing it, we realized that she had nothing on but a bra underneath. She was pissed when we told her that was really inappropriate for a woman in her late 70s to be wearing to the grocery store. My oldest son had the pleasure of knowing how awesome Memom was, and I am sad that my youngest two won't get to know her. Her spirit is still alive, though, and I am thankful for that. Her 1960's Elf on the Shelf is on my mantle right now, and I don't think a week goes by at my house without a Memom story or two. I miss her every day, but I feel like she's with me. I feel her spirit, her love, and her feistiness. And I hope my kids inherit some of her spirit too.

Jackie Smith (my cousin) Memories of Memom lead me back to some of the best times I can remember. Growing up, friends would brag about their mom mom, grandmom, nana or a nona. I remember always thinking that they were all the same, but I was special, because nobody had a Memom. All grandmothers are caring, nurturing and loving. Memom was all these things to me, but she was never like any other grandmothers that I knew. June was a rare breed, but she was also a Smith. Everyone knows that Smith's by nature have a penchant for entertainment and humor, and entertain she did. Everything Memom did or said was a grand story to retell or a memory being made. For example, even the most mundane things were made awesome just by her being her. The grocery store, boring to most, was exciting to us as kids. She would drive us to Genuardi's pretending to lose control of the car, and we would laugh and scream. We would scoot through the aisles while she gave the produce guy a  hard time for crappy tomatoes or a bad eggplant. She would spoil us with trips to Bradlees, Ports Of the World and the Mecca to all children under 12 Kiddie City. She would buy us Barbies, dolls and whatever else we had to have that week. During Summer she would skim the pool in her bathing suit, taking care not to get wet. We swam in the pool, but never made waves, we played outside and often tried to beat rampage on rainy days. Magic fries and diet Pepsi were a few of our favorite things.  I vividly remember learning how to tie my shoes while watching action news at 5pm- She taught me that. I still watch action news every morning and night, because my love of Jim Gardner was instilled at a young age. (Thank you Memom) I loved to watch her dance and sing around the house. She would tell stories and make up her own songs. She would let us sit on her lap, and watch General Hospital until we fell asleep. She was a comfort in my life growing up and could always make us smile. I inherited her wacky spirit as well as her humor and dare I say, shopping problem :) Her spirit is alive in all of us, and her presence was a staple growing up. There will never be another like her. Anyone who knew June, loved her. To all  those who didn't have the pleasure of knowing her, all I can say is "What are you, some kind of a nut?". 

Kathy Smith (my aunt) I guess it will have been 35 years or so that I first met this women.  Had to admit it was a little bit scary.  My husband Mark (her son) took me to meet his parents for the first time and we were getting married in a month’s time.  Why?  I tell you I still have no idea.  It could be because he had been engaged twice before… or maybe he was afraid of how I was going to react to a loud family!  LOL June was in the kitchen in her infamous (MOO MOO) puttering around.  Her husband Ken was in and out yelling at her (as he typically does) JUNE blah blah blah… JUNE…. God damnit June ..too funny but to me I was like what did I get myself into. Years later and after many family dinners, functions etc. I came to realize that this woman who is overbearing and hard to get to know was a wonderful woman.  Sure it took time but the time put in was worth it. To know her is to LOVE her.  She was funny, smart and always willing to do anything you needed.  Whether it was cosmetics, sweaters, books or toys for our kids.  All you had to do was visit. You never went home empty handed.  She always found the toys that the kids wanted at Christmas and the stores would never have by the time we got around to it.  And then she would say…. Here take this put it under your tree.  These grandkids of hers they had it made. I guess towards the end after Ken died she went a little wacky.  She was still a pistol and very funny.  One time Tyler (my son) had to use her car and took his friend with him to ask her. She told her daughter (Shelley) afterwards that Tyler came to visit with his friend and took her car away! She didn’t know who he was at first and her brother Bob had to keep telling her.  It’s your grandson June, Tyler!  We were very surprised she let him take the car. There are a ton of stories and all are full of fond memories and laughter.  I miss you June!  You were always good to me.

Jay Donis (my second cousin, he's in the camo shirt) One summer, Chris and I were hanging out in the backyard when we noticed a bee's nest on a tree in Auntie June's yard. Like normal kids (though I think I was over 20 years old by this point), we started throwing baseballs, softballs, and soccer balls at it. The bees did not like this turn of events and when we hit pieces of the nest they would fly around it, obviously agitated. We did not knock it down, but all of the balls we had ended up under the tree precariously close to the nest. While Chris and I decided what to do next, Auntie June just strolled out there under the tree and tossed all the balls back to us like it was nothing. She didn't even get stung. I think it showed what kind of person she was, she tried to help us, did her own thing whether it was the smartest decisions or not, and liked to be involved in what happened around the neighborhood. Oh, and with the balls back in our arsenal we did eventually knock the nest down.
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