Yesterday was a joyful and sorrowful day and today will be much the same. It was so nice to see my Granny honored by so many, however she was so humble – she would have wondered why you all bothered to come :). I feel so lucky to have been her Granddaughter for over 40 years.
Last night after her visitation I read something to my family and friends that attended the wake. I wrote about Granny and my memories that she helped me create. I wasn’t going to share it with the world but I figured “why not?” I loved my Granny and so did soooo many others. I want everyone to know my special memories and encourage each of you to reach down deep and pull your own special memories to the surface – it is very uplifting in so many ways.
If your Granparent(s) are still here with us, do me a favor and go see them this weekend or pick up the phone and call them. That is something I didn’t do nearly enough and that very thing is what is tugging at my heart and bringing tears to my eyes. Unfortunately it is a little late for me to learn this lesson – but the lesson is, DO IT NOW! Take the time to be with your loved ones regularly, because someday that time is snapped away before you are ready and it leaves you with regret.
They are big, the size of a dinner plate and as a child they seemed larger than life, they fill the void you need when you’re hungry in the morning, they never disappoint, they’re best when served warm in Granny’s kitchen but over the years life got busy and it was hard to make it to Granny’s kitchen for pancakes, so I asked Granny how to make them and she said she didn’t have a recipe, so I went to her house and watched her make them and wrote down everything she did – I now have the recipe. I’ve made those pancakes for Chad and Mindy’s kids and my friend’s kids. There isn’t anyone that doesn’t love Granny’s Pancakes just like there isn’t anyone that didn’t love Granny.
Granny was a Daughter, Wife and Aunt of several. She was a Sister to Helen, Martha, Mildred and Eva. She was Mom to Barb, Roger, Diane (why did they call you Poncho?), Linda, Bob and Julie and of course Dan, Sheryl, Tom, Big Dollar Bill, Barb and Mr. Fisher. She was Granny to all of the good looking 20 – 40 years olds in the room and that is true even if you aren’t related by blood – you wouldn’t be here if she wasn’t Granny to you too. She was also Granny to her 14 Great Grankids, those would be the really cute short people under 12 in the room.
Granny wasn’t just known for her Pancakes, she made fantastic Kolaches too and the list doesn’t stop there, her Rollikis were a carb addicts dream, the Zalnikis I haven’t had in a long time but man they were good, the deviled eggs, potato salad and her potato dumlings – I cannot even imagine how many pounds of potatoes she must have peeled over her 84 years. I know that we will miss all of these things that Granny made and the kind person she was, but not half as much as we will miss Granny- I hope that my Aunts and Uncles brush up their kitchen skills and figure out soon who’s making all those previous mentioned items at family gatherings.
Growing up the oldest of 12 grandchildren I have such great memories of Granny and being at her house – here are mine and since I am a bit older than those still in their low 30’s and 20’s I’m hoping they too will share their memories because I know they will be quite a bit different than mine.
Granny lived at 901 8th Ave for a long time, it was a big white house and for a long time it had red and white checkered floor in the kitchen. She had a black phone on the desk in the room you passed through to get to the living room and the never-ending hall to the bathroom. The phone had a rotary dial, her number 444-3535, Pizza Hut’s was 444-3555…ha,ha,ha. A lot of people called Granny to order pizza. She had a party line too – and I don’t know who she shared with for sure but I’m positive Willy’s mom was one of them. She would yell at Willy just like he was one of her Grandkids. She had an enclosed front porch that housed our toys, an open side porch that got a lot of use and a utility room full of geraniums she kept year to year in coffee cans, every time I smell a geranium it takes me back to that utility room off the kitchen. She had a milkshake maker too and her toaster sat right on the counter down towards the end. I learned to make toast, bologna and mustard sandwiches there -thanks Bob! In her fridge, was a glass orange juice bottle filled with cold water that everyone drank out of. She had steps leading to the upstairs that would never pass code today. There were some injuries with the grandkids at Granny’s (Nick) but oddly enough not one injury was from falling off the stairway and that is especially shocking since that is where we used to play – jumping off the side probably about 4′ high. She had a huge bathroom that always had an electric heater in it. Granny lived across the street from Christine Kahler another wonderful lady, the Chekals were west across the street and the Morrows lived next door, Tatman’s down the block on the corner. She worked hard at multiple jobs – at the same time. She worked at Amana Refrigeration, Blue and Gold and the Lincoln. She lived a short walk up a long hill from the pool and we’d catch crawdads in the creek that had a sidewalk across it. Granny and Grandpa had a little black dog, Studly – I am not sure who named that dog but what I do know is that Granny didn’t have a say in whether to get a dog or not, I remember Grandpa just brought it home. His name was fitting, “Studly” he weighed about 6 lbs I think – I feel sorry for that little dog today, can you imagine being a tiny little dog with Ben, Mick and Chad tearing around the house and yard? Granny and Grandpa had a big garden too, all I really remember is picking sweet peas and eating them right in the garden and then Granny would boil them and put butter on them and I’d put the pod in my mouth and the peas would slide right out. She planted snapdragons too and showed me how when you squeezed them they would open their mouths and she had a Holly Hock bush too and I think that was over by the dining room windows – she taught me how to take them a part and make dolls with them.
Granny would pick me up at after different sports practices, I’d call her on the payphone from Central School or the High School and if you didn’t put money in the phone you could hear the person you were calling but they couldn’t hear you so we had to use code, she’d say “Jill if this is you and you are at Central hangup” and if I didn’t hang up “She’d say Jill if this is you and you are at the high school, hang up” -that was our code and it worked. She logged so much time at BPHS that most of the students and athletes called her Granny too! Once I got my driver’s license I didn’t need to call Granny every day for a ride to her house, I became more independent and needed her less – that was probably okay considering the 11 other grandkids that needed her to run them around and make great memories too.
Later in life Granny and I worked at the same place, Amana Refrigeration, I worked there the last year or two before she retired to start the last chapter in her life, one like I’d never seen when I was growing up. She was having a blast – She hit the Senior Center up daily , she traveled around to play cards and bingo with her friends, she’d even been known to hit up the Casino from time to time. Granny liked watching the Chicago Cubs and had a great sense of humor…which is a pretty good attribute to have if you like watching the Cubs. She called her kids regularly and was a huge part of their lives and the rest of the family she created. She probably had a birthday party to attend every month and there was never a birthday that went by that her family didn’t get a birthday card from her.
As I look back at my life and the direction it has taken, I realize now that the path my life has taken is similar to Granny’s. I think I’m a good Daughter, Sister, Wife, Aunt and I have a little black dog too – but he does weigh slightly more than 6 lbs, I work hard, at multiple jobs too, I like to play cards, make Big Pancakes and grow geraniums. I have a sense of humor but can’t pay attention long enough to watch any sporting event except wrestling. I know that not having Granny at every family gathering will be hard, but I also know after reflecting on the memories she helped me create that She has always been apart of me and She will always be with me. I know that for each of my Aunts, Uncles and Cousins that if you reflect back it will bring you more joy than sorrow, where would we all be today if we never had a chance to make those memories with Granny?
Thank you Granny, for everything, for every birthday gift, card, Christmas gifts, rides, babysitting me, the numerous afghans you make with your own hands, dinners, breakfasts, attending my volleyball and softball games, for being a special guest at my wedding and being a great role model to me.
I love you