Teresa Grabler, October 2017, Gia Koehler Photography
[October 2017, Gia Koehler Photography]
Teresa Anne “T” Grabler, 50, of Abingdon, Virginia, formerly of Woodside, New York, died a year ago on January 23, 2019, in Bristol Regional Medical Center, in Bristol, Tennessee, from complications of stage 4 leiomyosarcoma. Before moving to Abingdon, Teresa lived in Johnson City, Tennessee; Gray, Tennessee; Brumley Gap, Virginia; and Saltville, Virginia.

Teresa was born June 12, 1968, in Queens, New York, to Anita (Wagner) and Frank V. Grabler. She had one brother, Frank J. Grabler.  She married Amanda (Ackley) Grabler in Niagara Falls, New York on June 5, 2013, a day she called one of the happiest of her life.

Teresa graduated from Stella Maris High School in Rockaway Park, New York in 1986. She went on to graduate magna cum laude from Nassau Community College in Nassau County, New York in 1993 with an Associate Degree in Physical Sciences, and from SUNY Oswego in 1995, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology and Mathematics magna cum laude. She loved the earth sciences and would share interesting facts with anyone who was willing to listen. She especially loved to share observations about the weather. A classic T-ism: “Hey, look! It’s precipitating!” (See her on the news about a lunar eclipse, from 1992, here.)

Teresa held several jobs over the years, including bookkeeper, synoptic lab assistant, and research assistant, as well as numerous jobs in retail, where she met many of her lifelong friends. Her last position was in the corporate offices of K-VA-T Food Stores, Inc., as a Help Desk Technician, from 2003 – 2018. Prior to that, she had filled other positions in the company at the store level, beginning in 2000.

 

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T was a big fan of cream cheese, milk, Amanda’s gluten free chocolate chip cookies, Buffalo Wings, bacon, NYC everything bagels w/cream cheese, Corbin’s Confections’ maple cake and their apple pie, Rolling Rock (only on occasion – and she learned as an adult it had been her Dad’s favorite too), cream cheese, Tom Collins, Mister Softee, NYC street vendors’ hot dogs and soft pretzels, coffee ice cream, Linzer cookies, Product 19, Bohnensterz, Zwetschgenknödel, Apple Strudel, her Oma’s brownies and Nuss Kipfel, Apricot Filled Cookies, Paprika Chicken, cream cheese, and Rosa’s Pizza (Maspeth, N.Y.). Although she had never really cooked or baked much before meeting Amanda, after they got together, she discovered an amazing natural talent in the kitchen. Everyone who tried her cooking went away full and happy.

 

Teresa loved Tiger Lilies (her favorite flower), sea horses, Huskies, turtles (especially sea turtles), sea dragons, the ocean, the beach, the house in Wallenpaupack Lake Estates, living in the mountains, wolves, horses, the kitties she and Amanda called family, and rural farm country.

 

Although the ultimate Friday night for T was staying home and cuddling with Amanda, T enjoyed numerous activities throughout her life.  These were many and incredibly varied, and included such things as watching women’s soccer, dancing with Amanda with or without music, helping people, troubleshooting/problem-solving, taking care of her wife, the New York Rangers, jigsaw puzzles, Sudoku, coloring, swimming, making up new words to songs (there was a great one about the itsy bitsy spider in a yellow polka dot bikini), painting pottery (especially with Amanda & Vanessa), Fantasy Football, playing racquetball or tennis, darts (she’d won competitions), crafts (ex: plastic canvas), visits and phone calls from friends and family, singing with Amanda (who didn’t care if she was off-key), listening to ’80s music (I want to ride my bicycle), Dar Williams (especially her song “Southern California Wants to be Western NY” as it references “a SUNY student with mousy brown hair,” and she always said, “That’s me!”), Melissa Etheridge, Laura Branigan, Idina Menzel’s song “Gorgeous” (she learned it from Amanda back in 2009), “Jingle Bell Rock” listening to Amanda’s singing (especially “The Story,” “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” and “Edelweiss”), reading Amanda’s writing (T had big dreams for Amanda’s success as a writer), reading (Melissa Good aka Merwolf – especially her Dar & Kerry series, anything by Katherine V. Forrest, and Arthur Clarke’s Space Odyssey series were some of her favorites), an eclectic array of TV shows and movies (Grey’s Anatomy, Once Upon a Time (especially Lana Parrilla! and SQ, of course), Bionic Woman, Wonder Woman, Smurfs, Masters of the Universe, Bugs Bunny, Lord of the Rings (we even had a LOTR-themed wedding and LOTR wedding bands!), Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, Wonder Twins “Wonder Twin powers – Activate!”, Dallas, The Man From Atlantis (whom we met in 2018!), Silkwood,Better Than Chocolate, The Hours (the first movie we ever watched together), Earth Star Voyager, Xena the Warrior Princess, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Sound of Music, Gilligan’s Island, Secondhand Lions, Iron Jawed Angels, Top Chef (and a plethora of other cooking shows), Star Trek, Star Wars, Top Gun, Hamlet (with Mel Gibson), Northern Exposure, The Year Without A Santa Claus (especially “Snow Miser” and “Heat Miser”), and The L-Word, card and board games (Spite and Malice, Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, RISK, Rummikub) playing PC (Diablo, Age of Empires) and console or mobile games – especially the original Atari and Champions of Norrath on the PlayStation 2, and Forge of Empires on her tablet.

 

She adored Charlie, her stuffed lion from her childhood. She loved Democrats. Equal Rights for everyone.

 

And did we mention cream cheese?

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T loathed coconut, cooked green beans, Trump, religion, mornings, pants (no, she didn’t prefer dresses or skirts instead!), hypocrisy, social conservatives and conservative thinking, planning ahead, the candle and detergent rows at stores, deciding what restaurant to order from (with Amanda’s parents), learning new technology (especially at work!), snakes, massages (until she was in the hospital), microwaved mushrooms, morphine, being told not to sing along with songs, Autism Speaks, fruit and chocolate in combination, wigs, being in the hospital, mint chocolate chip anything, the belief that pro-life equaled pro-death, Wheel of Fortune, being interrupted while putting furniture together, and cancer.

She enjoyed volunteering with Amanda for Destination Imagination. Amanda had been volunteering for years when they met, and Teresa soon got involved. When Amanda became the Regional Director for Southwest DI, Teresa stepped up as her Treasurer, and all around go-to person for unfilled roles. She was also an Appraiser and a Challenge Master for multiple challenges.

Teresa had a fantastic sense of humor and could always make people laugh. She sometimes said she’d missed her calling as a stand-up comedian. She was great at getting things accomplished but bad at planning ahead. Amanda learned this the hard way on their very first vacation – a few months after they met, when, as they were nearly at their destination, T announced, “Hope they have a cabin available!” (Wait, what?)

She was incredibly kind, generous, sensitive, intelligent, sweet (though she could be stubborn at times), and beautiful – inside and out.

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Teresa and Amanda met on Match.com, by lucky chance. Amanda had signed up the previous year for a friend who didn’t want to go it alone. She forgot about her account, letting it renew accidentally, and then left for Arizona to visit a friend for Christmas. The accidental renewal turned out to be fortuitous, as Teresa discovered her profile while she was gone and added Amanda to her favorites, not realizing that Amanda would be notified. When Amanda got home in January 2009, she immediately wrote to Teresa, the first person who’d favorited or contacted her who really seemed like a genuinely good match, to find out why. They had an instant connection, met in person a few months later, and fell hopelessly in love. If marriage had been legal in Virginia, they would have eloped that night. They both grew up feeling like they never really fit in, and they found their whole world in each other. Amanda thought Teresa was perfect just the way she was, right from the beginning.

She fit in with Amanda’s family from the start and was dearly loved by all of Amanda’s relatives.

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At the time of Teresa’s death, she was survived by her wife, Amanda (Abingdon and Roanoke, Virginia); her mom, Anita Grabler and stepfather Frank Arena (Woodside, N.Y.) –  sadly, he died on December 25, 2019; her brother and sister-in-law, Frank and Karen Grabler and their children, Ryan and Kylie (Middle Village, N.Y.); her aunt and uncle, Anne and Frank Wagner (Garwood, N.J.); and her many cousins and double cousins of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Georgia; her mother- and father-in-law, Peg and Dr. Dana Ackley (Roanoke, Virginia), her brothers-in-law and their families: Brian and Donna Ackley and their children Eva and Owen (Lawrence, Kansas) and Brian’s mother, Andi Treon (Myrtle Beach, South Carolina), and Pete Ackley and Joy Sanders (Jersey City, New Jersey); and her cats (with Amanda), Faden and Flash.

T is also survived by numerous friends, including her ex-partner (and dear family friend) Sara Poston, Vanessa Nickens, Jimmy Constantinides, Jeff Daum, Cathleen Finan, Colleen Finan-Duffy, Maura Fischer, Maria Orofino, Petra O’Connor, Harriet Berk, Michael Butcher, Julie Judge, Kristen Miller, and Lori Erdmann, as well as many of her longtime co-workers at K-VA-T food Stores, particularly those at the Help Desk, where she worked until her unexpected surgery in August 2017, and her coworkers and friends from the K-VA-T Accounting Department.

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Teresa was preceded in death by her father, Frank V. Grabler (1939-1984); paternal grandparents, Frank (1912-1986) and Ida (1917-1985) Grabler; maternal grandparents Frank (1909-1990) and Anna (1913-2007) Wagner; her beloved Husky, Ripley; numerous kitties she and Sara Poston owned, and Amanda’s and Teresa’s cat Marble (1999-2017).

Amanda was the last person Teresa spoke to, as Amanda told her over and over how much she loved her and would always love her. Teresa was able to verbally acknowledge Amanda and return the sentiment.  They were each other’s whole worlds; always and forever.

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Amanda’s family held a non-religious Celebration of Life for Teresa in June 2019, between what would have been Teresa’s 51st birthday and Amanda and Teresa’s sixth wedding anniversary, with food and activities Teresa loved.  It suited T to a T. Teresa’s New York family held a short memorial on Sunday, January 27, 2019, in Maspeth, New York.

It was Teresa’s wish to be cremated, and for Amanda to keep her ashes until such time that Amanda passes and is cremated, after which their ashes will be combined and kept by family. Farris Funeral Home, in Abingdon, Virginia, handled Teresa’s cremation. Photos from Teresa’s Celebration of Life will soon be available at http://teresa.grableronline.com/

If you wish to make a donation to rare cancer research in memory or honor of Teresa, please do so through the Leiomyosarcoma Direct Research Foundation (http://www.lmsdr.org) or the National Leiomyosarcoma Foundation (http://nlmsf.org).

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Amanda would like to thank the following three wonderful people for the care given to Teresa from the time of her diagnosis to the time of her death: Dr. Tamara Musgrave (Oncology/Hematology), Dr. Eduardo Fernandez (Cardiology), and Sally Blackburn (FNP).  Sadly, they were not permitted to be part of Teresa’s care team in the hospital, but visited her faithfully, nonetheless.

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“Two souls with but a single thought,

Two hearts that beat as one.”

-John Keats-

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“I love you. I know.”

True fans will know. And it was one of our favorite things to say to each other.

 

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