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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Grandparent(s) (04/03/08)

TITLE: Memories of My Grandparents
By Sherry A. Jackman


I have mixed memories of my paternal grandparents, Grandma and Grandpa Johnson, whom I was raised around since I was 2. When we lived with them on their farm near Yakima, Aunt Linda who is 4 years older, took me to school with her. Later Aunt Linda and I made Holly Hock dolls and picked asparagus. In the 1950s both families moved to the Bremerton area where an Uncle, my Dad, and Grandpa all worked in the Naval Shipyard.

I donít 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 Servicemenís 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 couldnít 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: ďNo, she doesnít have nice enough clothes, she canít go.Ē 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-workerís daughter, Colleen, befriended me and we watched Frankenstein Meets Wolf Man and other movies together while Grandma and Colleenís 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 didnít see much of each other until I moved back to Washington in 1987.

Ernie was a veteran which allowed Grandma to live in the Soldierís 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. Grandmaís 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 Grandmaís 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 wasnít quite ready for a gypsy whose mansion would either have to be nailed down or put on roller skates. He also didnít 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 wasnít going to be with us much longer. My parents werenít able to attend her funeral, so I represented them at Grandmaís 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 havenít 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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Member Comments
Member Date
Sara Harricharan 04/10/08
This was lovely! the different memories, both happy and sad, all mixed together to make something special. Great job here! ^_^
Glynis Becker04/10/08
Writing down memories like these is so important for the next generations...thanks so much for sharing!
Joshua Janoski04/12/08
This is a good story to print out and share with your family. Memories like these need to be preserved for future generations.

Thank you for sharing. Good job!
Colin Swann04/15/08
Good story of your life and relationship with your grandparents. We all fail others. I haven't got particular good memories of my grandparents either - some but not many. I don't think I was the perfect grandson either!
I really found this interesting. Thank you for a well writen account of some of your life.