From about fifth grade until almost my junior year of high school, I spent my years living with my family on a small, dead-end street. Jeannie Lane. It was a quaint street. Nice neighbors, pretty.

Across the street lived the sweetest, old couple anyone would ever meet - the Merkles. They acted as a third set of grandparents for The Sister and I. Sending birthday cards, Christmas cards, watching us play, baking us cookies. Even after we moved away, graduated high school, and left for college, the Merkles sent Christmas cards to us girls.

Geri, or Geraldine, always remembered to include a $2 bill each time. And she drew the cutest smiley faces; always a circle with two dots for eyes, a smiling mouth, and a squiggly hair sprouting from the head. I can still remember her handwriting. It was Grandma Handwriting. Unmistakable, as Grandma Handwriting usually is.

She was so cute. Motherly, even to my parents. Always looking out for our young family of four.

On Tuesday, when perusing my hometown's newspaper, I found Geri's name in the obituaries. She was 88 years old. Her husband, Paul, now a widow.

The news is so sad to me, and is just another reminder that life isn't forever. And I feel like a small piece of my childhood was taken away. Although I still have memories of Jeannie Lane.

When my family moved from Jeannie Lane, a new family moved into our home. He is the sports editor of the local paper, and wrote this piece about Geri. And it's moving to know she didn't just touch our lives. She touched the lives of everyone who knew her.