The Strongest Person I Know


A few days ago, my family was given the news about my great grandmother’s final few days. Without the ability to swallow anything, the slow process began to unfold. At the tender age of 96, we knew what to pretty much expect. The most we could do was to make her comfortable, let her know we were around, and communicate with her the best we could.

My great grandmother, or “MiMi” as we know her, is a second mother to me. She helped raise me since my father and I moved up to Pennsylvania from Florida when I was one year old. Since then, she’s always been very close to me and did a great job at spoiling me. Anytime Dad would tell me no to a cookie, she would pull one from behind my ear once he left the room.

I still think the hardest thing I ever had to do was see her cry. I’ll never forget the day I had to go to the nursing home and break the news to her I was enlisting in the Marine Corps. As any caring grandma, she couldn’t help but sob as her tears streamed down her face. In the end, she knew it was my decision to make. She supported it and kissed me to let me know she loved me. We ended the conversation with her typical maternal and comedic instinct by saying, “If your Drill Instructors are too tough on you, I’m driving down there and giving them a lickin’.”

It might sound cliche to say that I wouldn’t be the man I am without her. While that maybe the case, I wouldn’t be where I am without her raising me the way she did. She made sure I said my prayers, pick up after myself, always help others, and ALWAYS work my “little butt” off. She taught me about the importance of hard work and doing it with respect and humility. I’ll say that to this day, there isn’t anything I pursue without thinking, “What would MiMi think of this?”

It’s still painful to see a woman who was so strong and loving to leave. After a good bit of thought and talking to my family, I realized it’s selfish to try and keep her here. She’s in pain and has no real way of expressing it besides the fact that her dosage of morphine wears off in about 4 hours. We all know my great grandfather is waiting for her, and I’ve slowly came to the realization that they deserve to be together after being apart for 23 years.

My MiMi is always going to be with us. I might not have the same beautiful spirited woman with me in person, but I’ll always have her values, wisdom, and caring personality that she instilled in me to give to those around me. My kids will never know how amazing my MiMi was, but they’ll sure be raised the same way she raised me.

You’ll always be with us, Cora “MiMi” Isabelle Ritter, we love you. I love you.



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