My Beloved Daughter,
This week, we’re going to talk about my maternal grandparents. Of the two of them, Grandpa Isaac was the first of my grandparents to pass away. Grandma was the last of my grandparents to pass away. In fact, you met her. You were almost five when she passed away.
By the time that I was born, my mother’s parents had already been divorced, remarried (to other people), and divorced again. Here’s what I know:
Grandpa Winfred was an affectionate man and a hard worker. He worked at a mercantile store in little Gobbler, MO, until it burned to the ground when your Grandma Pat and her siblings were children. He was also an alcoholic and somewhat stingy. After he and your Great Grandma Deline divorced, he married Lenore. That marriage ended badly and he dated another woman (her name eludes me) who died of a seizure while walking to the store to buy him a bottle of whiskey.
After that, Grandpa moved around and spent time living with almost all of his kids and their families. He didn’t live with your Great Uncle Donald because he would make his dad take a bath. He lived with my parents and me and yes, he smelled really bad. He had an old coffee can that he would keep next to his bed to spit in, since he had really bad emphysema and often suffered from terrible coughing fits. I can still remember the smell, though I’ve never smelled it anywhere else.
On a positive note, Grandpa overcame his alcoholism and his stinginess. The last Christmas that he was alive, he randomly gave me sixty dollars and gave your cousin, Jaimilee thirty dollars’ worth of change. He gave his car to your Great Uncle Ronald and moved in with your Great Aunt Ruth and Great Uncle Larry. As the latter was a minister, Grandpa Winfred had a steady dose of Jesus while there and, the following December (he didn’t quite make it to Christmas), he woke up in the middle of the night and told Aunt Ruth that he was going to die that day. And he did. Uncle Larry preached the funeral. And he’ll be waiting for us in Heaven.
Grandma Deline Smith (she kept her second, abusive husband’s name after their divorce) was never selfish. If you went to her home and mentioned that you liked something that was there, you inevitably left with it. “You take that, hon,” she’d always say. When she passed away, your Cousin Christie told us how Grandma Deline (you called her “GG”) would allow any homeless person to sit in her front yard and she’d feed them.
And affection? Grandma was the fountain of love that Grandma Pat stepped out of. She gave the warmest hugs. She gave this special kiss where she would pucker and make this loud smooching sound that I still miss to this day. She especially loved children and always had a place on her lap for them.
She lived in St. Charles when I was dating your mother and I would stay with her on the weekends that I drove up from Springfield to see your mom. Grandma loved Sarah and always welcomed us to snuggle on her couch to watch a movie. By this point Grandma was in such poor health, she really only got out of bed to eat or go to the bathroom, so her living room usually went unused, anyway. She had Dementia and would often forget what she was doing or where she was.
After your mother and I got married, GG moved in with Aunt Ruth and Uncle Larry. Then, she moved in with Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Patrick. Then, after Grandpa Chuck died, she moved in with Grandma Pat. Finally, both of them moved in with your Uncle Greg and me in Springfield. On the morning of December 3, 2008, I drove Grandma Pat to her bank in Van Buren. Uncle Greg called us and told us that GG had died in her sleep.
The funeral was in Kennett. Cousin Christie gave the eulogy, talking about Grandma’s free-heartedness and kindness. You weren’t able to come to the funeral and I don’t remember why. Your mother and I probably couldn’t afford to get you from St. Charles to Kennett. The highlight was seeing Cousin Dan lean over GG in her coffin and give her one of those loud smooches. I still tear up when I remember it.
After all of the years apart, GG was buried next to your Great Grandpa Winfred. I was reminded of hearing your GG tell me, in the final years of her life, that she would always love him.