Friday, March 20, 2020

#20 Life questions

Late today!  Forgot it was Friday, to be honest--LOL!  Life has been off kilter lately, to say the least.

20.  Share some memories of your grandparents.

On my mother's side (three kids--girl, boy, girl-mom was the oldest): 
Grandpa Fred died when I was about five and I have mentioned about him being sick with dropsy and going to his funeral.  I remember he was confined to his bedroom at the end.  I would sneak upstairs and stand in the doorway.  Grandpa was usually sitting in his chair by the window.  He used to wave me in to come sit on his lap.  We'd be very quiet because Grandma or my mom would yell at us and drag me out--while warning both of us that I shouldn't bother him or sit on his lap...but...but...he always was so glad to see me and so nice to me.  I'd sit quietly and he'd talk to me like he really liked me and smiled like he enjoyed my company.  I couldn't stay away when we went to visit them.

Grandma Hazel lived long after Grandpa died.  He had been in his 70s but she was only in her 50s.  Her youngest daughter and husband took her in.  Grandma loved taking care of kids and doing things like ironing so she was glad to be there and watch their three kids while they both worked.  I especially remember her famous chicken and noodles.  She boiled the chicken parts and made the noodles from scratch.  I remember the noodles loosely spread over clean dishcloths all over the kitchen counters while they dried.  The delicious chicken and noodle concoction was ladled over homemade mashed potatoes.  As she got older the sauce got thicker and tasted too much of flour, but we didn't care.

She had raised her own three kids and helped raise my aunt and uncles three kids.  After their kids grew up and left home Grandma was kind of at a loss.  She refused to go to the senior center with "those old people".  Grandma preferred the company of children, I think.  When Dagan was little I used to go and pick her up to stay with Dagan and I for several days at a time to take her off my aunts hands for a while (she got to be a complainer and fretter when she had nothing better to do than read romance novels, watch TV, and keep an eye on the neighbors).  She was fine me and with a little one to hold or Dagan spent time with her, too, as I had when I was young (she used to come and take care of us three kids sometimes, too).  

On my fathers side (two boys-my dad was the oldest):
Grandpa Eric worked his way over to Canada from Sweden on a ship when he was a young man.  (We found out many decades later that he unknowingly left a pregnant girlfriend back in Sweden--who married someone else so we have never been able to track that particular line in the family.)  Grandpa was a lumberjack in Canada for a time and at some point moved to Minnesota, met Grandma, and she married him despite her family's objections--LOL!  I have never been really sure what it was Grandpa did for a living, to be honest.  I know they moved from Minnesota to Colorado and back to Minnesota.  I remember being told Grandpa raised rabbits he sold for food at one time and raised strawberries, too--but he couldn't have made much money doing that.  Kind of a mystery to me.  

Grandpa had a silly sense of humor kind of like my dad's.  He smoked cigars and a pipe.  (I love the smell to this day.)  Was an ardent follower of the Jack LaLanne Show and had this set of coils with handles that he used to spread wide across his chest to impress us kids.  He could do squats and handstands and walked every day to the post office in town.  But after he turned 80 people began to talk about him in the small town...and he quit the daily walking and even quit the exercising at home after while.  What a shame.  As a child that taught me not to listen to other people's opinions and follow what you feel is right for you.

In his late 80s he got diagnosed with a slow growing bone cancer...was around the same time my folks were planning a 40th anniversary trip to Europe and wanted to try and track down relatives in Sweden.  That is when Dad found out about the long ago pregnant girlfriend.  Grandpa was absolutely terrified that Grandma would find out about it and divorce him.  (She would have.)  So between hearing "cancer", being in the hospital in the first place (where people went to die), and Grandma possibly finding out his secret...he decided that was that.  He was ready to go--period.  Never left the hospital.  Quit eating and was dead in a couple of weeks.  You can't reason with a Swede who's got their mind made up.

Grandma Anna crocheted doilies...they were everywhere.  She had this big plastic doll in her bedroom with a pink crocheted dress and bonnet and white plastic shoes that I used to stare at but was not allowed to touch.  (I ended up with her when she died.)  She had a big pedal sewing machine in her bedroom, too, that I was always fascinated by.  

Grandma was a stern rather distant kind of grandmother.  (Very different from my mom's mom who loved kids and had no backbone when it came to discipline--LOL!)  She was a great believer in "children must be seen but not heard".  When we went to visit us kids were supposed to be very quiet and keep ourselves busy...all day.

In the evening after dinner Grandma, Grandpa, Mom, and Dad would often play cards at the dining room table.  Their tiny black and white TV didn't work well and they didn't like it on. (Wrestling was the only thing I remember them watching while we were there--LOL!)  So we had to read or write or draw or play something really quietly like a board game.  Or puzzles!  Grandpa had puzzle this square piece of wood with an X of holes filled with nails where you had to jump them and remove the one you jumped to try to end up with one nail right in the center...if I am even remembering that correctly after over 60 years.  There were metal puzzles you had to try and work the pieces apart and solid wooden shapes with a million pieces you had to put back together to make the shape again.  This was long before the rubik's cube--which I was never able to solve.  I knew exactly where my dad got his love of puzzles.  ;)  He had lots of them, too.

Grandma was proud of her cooking and didn't let my mom help.  When I got old enough for Grandma to approve I could help with dishes after our holiday meals.  She worked seasonally at the Green Giant factory in town where they canned corn.  Cokato had a corn festival us kids LOVED to go to in the fall.  We could get all the butter dipped corn on the cob we could eat for free.

She was an unforgiving soul.  I mentioned about her not accepting a divorced spouse as part of the family any longer.  Well, I remember her sitting next to my other Grandma at my folks house for some gathering or another and she noticed Grandma Hazel's charm bracelet where all her grandchildren and great grandchildren's names clinked around her wrist.  My aunt's daughter had married a guy that had been divorced and had two children by his first marriage--and Grandma Anna saw their names on her wrist.  I heard her ask--"why do you have them on there?  They are not your family."  Grandma Hazel looked baffled at first...but mumbled, "they are still family to me".  (They are still married to this day, BTW.)

Grandma lived to be 104.  She had lived alone in their house until she was in her 90s, but by the time I saw her at her 100th birthday party she had pretty much already lost short and long term memory.  Didn't remember being married or having two boys...just that she was going to have cake and ice cream.  Once she did--she wanted to go back to her room...even though the guests were all still there.  I'm sure she didn't recognize anybody anyways.  In her decline, the woman who I never heard swear could swear like a sailor at the nurses.  I was one of the people helping her back to her room in her wheelchair.  A nurse had to come to help her to the bathroom and I just remember her whining--"why can't I just die?"

No one ever told Grandma about Grandpa's pregnant girlfriend.  Heaven knows, she might have remembered that--LOL!  ;)

The end.


  1. My comment to get your comments. :) :)

  2. That's so interesting about the pregnant girlfriend. How did your dad find out? Why did Grandma's family object to her marrying Grandpa Eric and why did people in town talk about Grandpa when he got older? It seems as if he just liked to stay in shape. Grandpa Fred and Grandma Hazel sound sweet. I enjoy these posts.


  3. This is a really interesting post, Rita. I enjoyed reading about your grandparents. And this reminded me that my grandmother also had a pedal sewing machine.

  4. Oh my gosh ... Grandpa Eric and his secret!
    I love to read such memories..... superb!!
    And you are such a talented writer!
    Happy weekend Rita!!!

  5. It is fascinating to hear about your grandparents. I'm now hearing where you get your longevity genes, too. :-)

  6. Very interesting Rita! I enjoyed reading about your grandparents!

  7. Fascinating! A great bunch of relatives.

  8. What wonderful memories! I loved hearing therm :)

  9. What wonderful memories.
    I had a close relationship with my maternal grandparents

  10. Rita, after reading this post, it's like we know a lot about your grandparents. Grandpa Eric was certainly a character as they say and so was grandma Anna. Sadly, I don't have such memories of my own grandparents so thanks for sharing yours here.

  11. Fascinating memories of your grandparents! I enjoyed "meeting" them through what your shared.


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