Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Memoir Monday--Week 21

This week's questions have taken a lot of extra thought, and some real walks down Memory Lane. Some of it has been rather emotional. Hence, I couldn't get it posted on Monday.....Plus, I went searching for photos. I almost considered posting it in two installments. ;-)

Do you recall any outstanding family trips or summer holidays you experienced as a child?

I can actually think of quite a few, which has made it hard to narrow it down.

When we lived in North Carolina, my dad attended summer school in eastern Tennessee each summer, earning his Bachelor's degree. So my mother took us to Florida to visit my grandparents for a month or so. We would also go spend a week or two at the college where my dad was. And usually we would go spend a day on the NC beach sometime during the summer.

I remember one such trip to the beach. We had a wonderful day playing in the sand, and in the water. But we got very badly sunburned. My poor mother was so badly sunburned, she became positively ill.

One of our trips to Tennessee stands out: We were driving along, nearing the mountains. My mom needed to fuel up the car. While looking for a gas station in Cherokee, NC, she suddenly realized we had entered the Smoky Mountain National Park! Apparently back then, it wasn't as easy to find a place to turn around as it may be now. We drove through the Park on prayer that trip, along with coasting down the hills a lot!

I remember one trip to the Outer Banks. I don't know if it was during summer or not, because my dad was with us. But I know we camped on the beach. After dark, we chased the ghost crabs. We attended the play, The Lost Colony. And I know we went to the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. My younger brother climbed that thing several times (I don't know if it was that trip, or when we went later as a school field trip....).

The summer we were in Texas (we were there for only one school year), my folks went to Flagstaff, Arizona, to interview for a job possibility. My younger brother and I "had" to go. I remember thinking how beautiful that area was! We also spent a day at the Grand Canyon. What awesome beauty!

Later that same summer, my folks went to Alabama for another job interview. My younger brother went with them, while I stayed with my best friend and went to summer camp with her, her sister and brother. One of my most memorable parts of that week at camp was when the group went to Carlsbad Caverns. It was spectacular! That was a wonderful week....but made it much harder to say good bye when the time came for us to move (yes, to Alabama).

I remember many trips to the Smokies, while we lived in North Carolina, and even Alabama and Louisiana, to go backpacking. That was one of the activities we would do with my dad. In fact, we made plans to some day hike the whole Appalachian Trail! Sadly, that never happened. (I'd still love to do it sometime....but I know my body could never do it now, not unless I was able to lose a lot of weight first).

Do you remember any of your four grandparents? Any greats? What were their names? Any memories that you have.

I do remember all four of my grandparents. I don't remember any of my great-grandparents, although I do believe at least one was still alive after I was born. I think my mom has said I met one of her grandparents, maybe it was one of her grandmothers.

Rex and Henrietta

My dad's mother was a petite little lady; she was only 4'10 1/2" (or something like that), with long hair, which she always wore braided and wrapped around her head. She always cooked on a wood cookstove, even after their house had electricity. She canned her own produce, and made homemade bread. Her parents died when she was young, so two of her aunts raised her.

She died February 29, 1976, about a month before her 86th birthday. I was 14 when she died. We flew to Nashville, and drove the rest of the way to Wisconsin with my dad's brother and his family. That was my first flight.

I remember my dad's father very well, too. He was a fairly short, stout man. A Wisconsin dairy farmer. He was a rather quiet man. I remember there was a time when I planned to go help him on his farm when I grew up! Of course that never happened, because by the time I would have been old enough and big enough to go help him on his farm, he no longer was farming.

After he and grandma sold the farm further north in Wisconsin, they purchased an old schoolhouse, and fixed it up....well, it seems they may have always been in the process of fixing it up.....It was to this home my dad and I went, after my grandfather died (when I was 20), to help settle my grandparents' estate. He was 88 when he died. I was in Canada at that time, so was unable to attend his funeral.

Lee and Carol

My mother's mother was a tall, stately woman. She was a schoolteacher. She loved dogs. My grandparents raised and showed dogs: Siberian Huskies, I know for sure. I don't remember if my grandmother also showed Shelties, or not (I believe my mom did).

My mother's father was the wisest, most intelligent man I have ever had the privilege of knowing. He was a man of few words; when he spoke, you knew what he had to say was important! He was meticulous; structured; very set in a schedule (rising, eating, going to bed, nearly the same time every day). He was an accountant. And he was very proper in speech and grammar. He spoke several languages fluently he used to dream in these languages.

When my mother was a child, her parents were missionaries in Latin America: Haiti, Cuba, Costa Rica, Panama. In fact, my mother was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. When my mother was a preteen, they moved from (I believe) Costa Rica, to Green Bay, Wisconsin! Talk about culture shock for my mom!!

I remember that, every time we went to visit my grandparents in Florida, Grandma always had a kettle of split pea soup waiting for matter what time of the night we arrived. During the Christmas holidays, I remember my grandparents and my folks watching football, and playing Yahtzee. My brothers played as well, but I got tired of playing, and would go bury my nose in a book.

My grandmother ended up with Alzheimer's. I was late teens by then. My grandfather took care of her, at home, for as long as he could. I think maybe the last year or so she was in a nursing home or something, but I don't remember for sure. She died around age 83, I believe. I wasn't able to make it to her funeral, since I lived way off in Montana by then.

After I married my first husband, I wasn't able to see my grandparents very often. Montana was just too far away! But Grandma died a little over a year after we were married, and of course by then, she didn't even know me, anyway.

Frankly, my grandfather remarried shortly after my grandmother died. He married his college sweetheart! They'd lost touch way back when, after my grandfather's family moved away from Massachusetts. They got back in touch, shortly after my mom's brother died in a car accident (the month my first husband and I were married). So Grandpa and Lenora were married, at my folks' place in Kansas, with my younger brother and I for witnesses. Yes, we signed our grandfather's marriage license!! My grandfather was nearly 85, Lenora nearly 84, when they were married.

Several years later, and by this time, they were living in a retirement center in the Orlando area, Lenora needed more care than my grandfather could safely give her. So she was in a nursing home, within a short walk from the apartment Grandpa was in. He would walk over and see her every day.

Grandpa would eat lunch at the cafeteria of the retirement center. He would go visit Lenora. He even went to the laundry facility each day, to use the exercise equipment, and work out! By now he was in his late nineties!!

In April, 1998, my two older children and I took a train trip. We traveled by train from Montana, to Minneapolis/St. Paul, where my aunt and cousin met us. We spent the night at their place, in Wisconsin. My dad drove up from Kansas City. We spent a day or two there; then went with my folks to Branson, MO, where we met my brothers and their families. Spent Easter weekend there. Then we rode with my younger brother to his place; spent a few days there, then got on the train again, for Florida. My dad met us there, and took us to Sea World, and the Kennedy Space Center. We enjoyed visiting my grandpa. And he enjoyed my kids!! Then we took the train all the way back to Montana.

That was the last time I saw my grandfather alive....

One Friday afternoon in late November, when he was either getting into or out of the shower, he fell. Even though he was very consistent in his schedule, church attendance, etc., no one seemed to miss him or thought to check on him.....until Monday morning. He was still alive, when he was found....but passed away later that day.

Even now, as I type this, I miss my beloved grandfather so much, it hurts! And I weep, when I remember the circumstances surrounding his death. He so wanted to reach 100 years old! He was so full of life! So "with it" mentally; in such good shape physically. It just hurts, to think of the way he died. And that was only about 3 weeks before his 98th birthday.

The memorial service was scheduled for December 26. My parents and brothers had already been planning on spending that Christmas with Grandpa. Instead, it ended up being a time to remember him at his memorial service. I flew down from Montana, alone.

I still think he was one of the greatest men of our time! I look forward to Jesus' return (and it will be soon now, I believe!), to see my beloved grandfather again....and each of my grandparents.

 13But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
 14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
 15For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
 16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
 17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
 18Wherefore comfort one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, King James Version) Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Please stay tuned for more episodes of Memoir Mondays!

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1 comment:

  1. Wow - what great memories! How amazing that he was able to reconnect with his high school sweetheart and have two wonderful marriages. I'm so sorry to hear how he passed.

    Funny, living in NC, we've still never made it to the Outer Banks.



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