Ann Horner Granados passed away on July 5th. It was a great loss not only to my uncle Lou and her children - but to the Granados clan, at least those of us who were fortunate enough to get to know her well.
Dan and I are so sad. Our hearts are heavy to think we'll never again see her smile, feel her enthusiasm or hear her positive voice. She was such a presence.
It always amazed me that though I was but one of 30+ off-spring in the Luis Granados (Sr.) chain, Ann treated me as if I was the only one.
She was always so kind to me, so interested in what I was doing, what I was thinking, how my kids were getting on, what was new in our lives. Ann and my Uncle Lou made every effort to be at all major family occasions, even when getting around and traveling long distances became more difficult as they both experienced health challenges. You could always count on them for support and encouragement- and to be present at important events.
Seven years ago Dan and I moved from Laurel, Maryland where the population was high (87,000) and jobs were plentiful, to Somerset County on the rural Eastern Shore where the population (26,000) was one third the size of Laurel. Jobs were scarce.
Within a few months I got a job working for a small town in Worcester County - the same county Lou and Ann lived in. I did well there, getting my first experience working with local government and economic development.
But one year later I was fired from that job. It was sudden, unexpected, and devastating. I had never left a job where people weren't sorry to see me go. Dan's hours had been cut back due to a slump in the building industry, and we had a daughter in college. Ann rushed to my rescue. She invited me to lunch at the Atlantic Hotel in Berlin and I briefed her on what happened.
She went to work, using any influence she had to help me get a job with the State of Maryland. Within a few months I was hired by the Department of Business and Economic Development after going through a series of rigorous interviews.
I'm not ashamed to have been a political appointee, hired perhaps because I knew someone influential ... that's part of our political process. The cause for shame would have come if I didn't do a good job or take the responsibility seriously; if I merely took a free ride and wasted the tax payers money.
As it turned out, I loved the new state job, and was able to be very productive. Working for this Agency I was performing duties similar to those in the small town job - but covering several counties on the Eastern Shore. I thrived in the position and am still at it finding it one of the most challenging and rewarding jobs I've ever had. I have the opportunity to help hundreds of businesses, develop great relationships with people (some who have become lifelong friends), and show the humble few I serve that government really can do good things. I am privileged to be walking proof that Maryland does care about business and economic development, enough to put a human resource in the far reaches of the state to offer on-the-ground assistance to businesses and local communities.
I owe all of that joy and job satisfaction to Ann Granados.
The last time I saw Ann was at my mother's funeral just over a year ago. Even at times when people didn't know what to say, Ann found something comforting and appropriate. She was one of the most loving, energetic people I've ever known.
What a great loss this is for everyone in her world.
My faith tells me Ann is in a better place, enjoying the company of her loved ones that went before her. It also tells me she's preparing a place for all of us who will eventually follow her.
But my selfish nature wishes she was still here for another family reunion, wedding, christening, summer crab feast, Christmas party or chat about the latest craziness in the world or new development in the family.
Her absence will be hard to get used to. But I'm comforted by my memories of her and thankful I was able to get to know her and share my life with her ... Rest in peace, Ann.
Pictures above top to bottom - 1. Ann at an event in Princess Anne, Maryland. John Phoebus in background. 2. Ann and Jim Rzepkowski at Maryland event. 3. Ann and Lou at birthday celebration in Calvert County for Lou's brother, Joe.