The Lighting of the Commons is so much more personal for me this year. I am so happy for the joy the tree will bring to all who see it.

Six years ago I made a huge life change. Part of that change brought me back home to the Quad Cities. I was planning on helping my family care for my grandmother,  Helen, who was in early stages of Alzheimer's. She'd forget things easily and at times, not recall the day or what time period she was living in. I knew how to help, having previous experience helping family friends care for their loved ones, but what I didn't see coming, was her quick passing from this life to the next, on the day before I arrived.

My grandmother worked many years as a secretary for the Superintendent in East Moline. She loved the children there. Everytime we were out shopping, for as long as I can remember, she'd get stopped by one of the students. She was always greeted with hugs and smiles.

My grandmother retired in Florida and would come back in the summer to spend it with us. She loved fresh tomatoes from our garden and she certainly loved to go to garage sales. In fact, I loved waking up early on Saturday morings to go to breakfast at Denny's with her and my grandfather, where she'd order her coffee and her biscuits and gravy, 'hot, hot, hot.' I'd usually fall asleep in the car roaming neighborhood after neighborhood, hunting for garage sales. By the time I woke up, we were usually pulling in to 'Kmarts,' as she called it. (It was 'Walmarts', too, incase you were wondering.)

To this day, the house still smells like her. I can close my eyes and remember hearing my children asking their 'G.G.' to scratch their backs and it transports me to my childhood with her. There was no one who gave better back scratches than my grandmother.

I got to live in her home for several years after her death. I'm eternally grateful for that house. It became a home for my children and I. We loved looking at that huge pine tree on the corner after a fresh snow. In fact, my children and I would talk about how neat it would be to decorate it like a Christmas tree 'someday.' This year, someday arrived, and all 45 + feet, is finally going to be decorated and lit up, and in the best place.

When my Dad heard the TaxSlayer Center was looking for a Christmas tree donation this year, he made the call. My siblings and I didn't even know until it was all happening the next day. We didn't quite get to give her the memorial we would have liked to after she passed. This is the perfect way, on display, to memorialize my grandmother. She was very outgoing and loved to sparkle.

Please join us on November 17, 2018 at the Lighting of the Commons,  as we finally get to see this tree, and your faces, light up downtown Moline. When you look at that tree this year, whether your drive by or take your picture by it, use the hashtag,  #lightupforGG, and spread the joy of family this holiday season.

Special thanks to WQAD for posting video footage and the Dispatch Argus for covering the step-by-step process in pictures.

Here are a few for you to enjoy.