Grandpa

5/9/1933 – 11/27/2019

I grew up watching my grandfather take many roles; the goofy ball, the photographer, the mensch, the napper, the father, the disciplinarian, the bicyclist, the book aficionado, and countless others.
A month ago, I visited him for what turned out to be the last time, but it was the first time we truly talked to one another. We talked about love and loss, triumph, and failure, but mostly we talked about our family name. From him, the Rosenblum name was passed to my father, who gave it to me, and one day I will pass it to my children. They will know the family history that comes from being a Rosenblum because my grandfather taught me what it meant to be part of the Rosenblum family.
To the man facing his death that told everyone, “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina,” I will cry for you, but I will also laugh and live for you. Thank you, Grandpa.

#rememberingneenee

Elizabeth Ann Devine Kinney

August 3rd, 1937 – October 23rd, 2016

She was my comedic rival. She was my bright light in a tunnel of darkness. She was my NeeNee.

I was privileged to grow up for the first 24 years of my life with all four of my grandparents. As they watched me grow up and grow older, I did the same. I went from seeing my NeeNee out in the backyard, kicking the soccer ball around with us to her watching us from their porch while we played in the yard.

One thing that never changed with her age was her humor. She loved to laugh, and we loved it when she laughed. Her laugh was infectious; it never mattered if you understood the joke. If NeeNee understood it, she would get everyone else laughing.

Above all, she was the easiest person to shop for gifts. Anything frog; I mean anything! You could make her a foam craft frog, and she would still have it on her frog bookshelf decades later. Everyone knew that frogs were NeeNee’s “thing.” She never went overboard with the frogabilia, but she cherished everyone she got. My favorite frog piece of hers was the stained glassed lamp that sat in the front room of their house for years and years. It was beautiful and colorful and perfect. When I went up to New Jersey in 2016 for her funeral and Poppop told everyone to take their favorite piece of NeeNee’s frogabilia home with us, I wanted to have the lamp. Unfortunately, it didn’t fit in my bag, it was old, and I didn’t trust the postal workers to transport it down to Texas safely. That’s when I knew I wanted a tattoo based on the lamp. I took photos of it from all different angles to capture its beauty.

You may think, ‘It’s 2018, and you just got it tattooed. Obviously, you didn’t care that much.’ That’s where you are wrong. I cared deeply about it. I researched various tattoo techniques, compared black and white work to colorwork, thought long and hard about placement and size. After a year of research, I still hadn’t found the perfect artist, but I knew how I wanted it. The tough part was telling my parents who were none too happy to know that their precious princess is going to be marked for life (disregarding the countless scars she has on her body). I found the courage and told my parents separately, and it went better than I thought it would, they accepted it and were content on the amount of effort I put in into finding the perfect tattoo. The only thing missing was the tattoo artist. It was coming down to crunch time. I had contacted a couple of artists that had flaked on me already had August 3rd booked up. Then I found Daniel O’Driscoll. His geometric linework is phenomenal, and the way he can inlay the color into is work to add to the geometric work instead of covering it up; I knew he was the man to create the masterpiece of my first tattoo.

He was patient, kind, and saw my vision better than I ever did. He is a dedicated artist, is passionate about his craft, and is ever growing. Check out his work.

You may even see a piece that you recognize. If you are in Austin, Texas and need a tattoo…go to him.

Turning 26

My 26th year alive was one of those years that you look back on and say “I survived.”
It was a massive roller coaster that I grew exponentially from, but I would never want to do again.

It started off with me in massive debt that my roommates were terrific at supporting me through and understanding even when I pushed them away. A month into my 26th year, I was “involuntarily separated” from a job where I loved working with my clients, and they enjoyed working with me. Where I had a supervisor that saw my energy and client commitment as a hindrance to my work performance and instead of working with me, she got rid of me. I was devastated, if you had asked any of my clients about my work with them, they would sing my praises. Many parents of my clients attempted to reach out to me after my departure, but due to my social work licensing and ethical boundaries of my profession I could not communicate with them. No being able to say goodbye to people I had spent the last year and a half in their life attempting to improve it no matter what it costs, was heart-wrenching.

After that, I took a leap. I looked into an amazing non-profit organization in Austin that was well known for their continual innovations in their social services. Less than a month after being “involuntarily separated” I was hired as a part-time employee at this amazing non-profit at their youth homeless shelter. Granted I was apprehensive; I have worked direct care with teenagers before and that turned into a hot mess. This place was different! I left my work at work and my home at home. This place was perfect for my personality. They let me use my energy to improve the workplace not just for the clients, but for the staff. Less than 3 months into employment I was awarded the company-wide “Gratitude Award” something that very few part-time employees ever see. I felt at “home” at the company. When they saw my flaws in the workplace they worked with me to improve myself, they didn’t throw me aside, they made me feel like a part of a team and a part of a family all in one.

While applying for this job I also applied for graduate school. I got accepted into SUNY-Cortland’s online Recreation Therapy Certificate program. It won’t end in a masters, but it will end in me being a qualified Recreation Therapist to be able to work in Texas. Classes started in January, and I instantly fell in love with the field.

The ending of my 26th year of life isn’t so happy. Just days before I went on vacation for my birthday, I hit a pothole with my car. I popped one tire and got a bubble in one. Both tires were replaced. My driver side seat belt also locked up and would not expand or retract; the dealership told me that I was in an accident so they would not replace the seat belt for free. I wasn’t in an accident; my car fell off the jack while I was changing my tire. They didn’t care; I took the car to the mechanic by the house and had it completely replaced. My roommates went above and beyond again. For me, my vacation started on the day my car was taken to the local mechanic. I ended up being hundreds of miles away when my roommate took my car from the mechanic to the tire shop to get my tires aligned. That’s where he found that 3 of my rims were no longer circular, but ovals. He took it upon himself to go back to the place where I had gotten my tires and reamed them for their shoddy workmanship. When I returned from my 4-day vacation, I found a new driver side seat belt and four new matte black rims on my car.

In conclusion, my past year was only survivable by the sheer love and patience that my roommates showed me. They will forever be my favorite roommates.

Goodbye Neenee

Today the world lost an amazing woman who I knew as Neenee. May knew her as Elizabeth, Betty Ann, or Lizzy. A couple of people knew her as mom, and one knew her as wife. She had always been there for me whether in person or over the phone. No matter what I was doing, she was always looking over my shoulder and guiding me through the journey of life.

I don’t know if I believe that heaven is real or where our “souls” go when we die, but whatever does happen to them I hope she goes somewhere warm where she can swim until her heart’s content.

Her funeral is this weekend, and I volunteered to speak. I will be reading a poem that my Poppop loves; it is called So Little Time by Sister Miriam Barker:

So little time to say the things
You’d really like to say
Before you even find the words
The time just slips away.

So little time to do the things
You feel that you must do.
So treasure, like the purest gold,
The time God’s given you.

So little time to dream your dreams
For youth has passed its prime,
And all too soon you realize
That there’s … so little time.

So little time to reach the height
To which you’re bound to climb,
For swiftly pass the waring years,
And there’s … so little time.

So little time for past regrets,
And less, to make amends,
Yet God can heal the deepest wounds
In chosen, cherished friends.

So little time to share God’s love,
And beauty here on earth
And know, before His endless time,
Their meaning and true worth.

Oh, yes, there is so little time
To seek the hidden door
That open’s up to heaven’s time,
Where time’s forevermore.