Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Grandparent(s) (04/03/08)
TITLE: Memories of My Grandparents
By Sherry A. Jackman
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I don’t remember much about Grandpa Johnson except that he was quite gruff. I have no recollection of sitting on his knee, being read to, or any activity which you normally associate between Grandpas and young children. I did see him chop wood and work in the garden or backyard. Since he got leukemia when I was about 14, and then died when I was 16, I had no desire to attend his funeral and stayed home.
I mostly remember Grandma working at the Bremerton Servicemen’s Center a lot; and my mom and I went to church with her occasionally at a little community church in Chico. Communion was served and I was always ignored. No one explained what was going on and why I couldn’t have any. I felt confused and left out. What a missed opportunity to teach me about Jesus. Nearly every summer Grandma offered to pay my way to Bible Camp, but my mom always said: “No, she doesn’t have nice enough clothes, she can’t go.” I often wonder how different my life might have turned out if I could have gone to Bible Camp just once.
Grandma worked in a nursing home in Poulsbo where I stayed and looked for work when I was 19, before finding clerical work in Olympia. While in Poulsbo with Grandma, her co-worker’s daughter, Colleen, befriended me and we watched Frankenstein Meets Wolf Man and other movies together while Grandma and Colleen’s mom worked. One day when I was cooking a batch of pinto beans on the stove, I had the burner too hot and burned beans, pan and all. It took a long time for me to live that down.
Grandma married her second husband, Ernie Millholland in 1970 My husband of two years and I attended their wedding before we moved to Alaska. Grandpa Ernie let the gypsy in Grandma take over, and lived in various places in the Lower 48, while we were up north, unable to travel much. Consequently, she and I didn’t see much of each other until I moved back to Washington in 1987.
Ernie was a veteran which allowed Grandma to live in the Soldier’s Home at Orting. I visited her there and attended several annual picnics for family members along with other relatives from Yakima. My individual visits consisted of playing Scrabble or checkers, pushing Grandma outside in her wheelchair, weather permitting, eating meals together, Bible reading, or just talking. Grandma’s gypsy ways struck again: she left Orting for the Retsil Veterans Home where she stayed for a couple years before getting evicted and ending up in a private nursing home in Port Orchard.
My parents drove their motor home to Port Orchard so my mom could cook Grandma’s favorite foods of pork chops, potatoes, gravy, and pumpkin pie. I joined them a couple of times. Grandma savored these meals, especially the pies, and the long visits out in the motor home.
As Grandma got sicker, she talked about an eagerness to get to Heaven. Mom and I teased her about how God wasn’t quite ready for a gypsy whose mansion would either have to be nailed down or put on roller skates. He also didn’t need someone else trying to take charge.
My parents and I visited her not long before she passed away. Praying for her, I sensed that she wasn’t going to be with us much longer. My parents weren’t able to attend her funeral, so I represented them at Grandma’s funeral. I was very embarrassed to see poor Grandma whose mouth was all sunken in because her dentures got left at the nursing home and she got buried without them. Her final resting place is a cemetery in Gig Harbor in a plot next to Grandpa Ernie. I haven’t been to her grave lately, but the last time I was there it was nicely tended with a beautiful view of the Gig Harbor waterfront, even though Grandma is not around to enjoy the view.
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