A tribute to my grandparents
by Sara Froehlich
Recently, I lost a person that meant a lot to me. And in losing him,
it closed a chapter of my life that I was not really ready to close.
And so this is a tribute to my grandfather, a man that will be missed
very much by his 7 surviving children, numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren,
and a new crop of great-great-grandchildren.
When my first grandson was born, we took him to meet his great-great
grandfather. Jake was the first of what will be a
long line of great-great grandchildren and it saddens me that they
will never get to know him. When he saw that baby the look on his face
was something I will never forget. He held him and looked into his
tiny eyes and you could feel the love he had for that tiny person.
I never will be sure if he understood that it was my daughters
baby and not mine, but I am sure that he knew that Jake was one of
us! I saw it in his eyes. I have a five generation photo taken that
Grandpa, my father, myself, my daughter, and her son. Not
many families are lucky enough to have five generations but we are...on
both sides of the family. I have a similar photo of my grandmother,
my mother, myself, my daughter, and her son. And I cherish those photos
and the memory of the last day we were all together. Before Grandpa
got so ill that he didn't always know his loved ones. And so ill that
he forgot who had been to visit him. And so ill that all he wanted
was to go home from the nursing home to die
a place where he spent
the last few months of his life.
Even as little as two years ago, I could phone my grandpa and just
say, "Hi, Grandpa!" when he came to the phone, and he would
say, "Sara!" with such joy and pride in his voice that I
was taken aback. I always marveled that out of 30 some grandchildren,
he KNEW it was me. I was important enough to him that he recognized
I need this closure. I missed the Memorial Service. I live in a place
where the weather can be very inhospitable at times, and at the time
of the Memorial Service, the weather did its worst. Old man winter
decreed that I should not drive the 500 miles to the Service, and I
must deal with my loss here, without benefit of the service, and without
benefit of watching his ashes sprinkled on their final resting place
him free to the wind and the land he loved so much. Sending him to
my grandmother, who has been gone for a long time now and who he missed
terribly. Sending him to Gene and Elvin, their two sons who preceded
him and Grandma in early deaths, something that gave my grandpa the
worst ache of his life. He always said, "You are not supposed
to bury your children," a sentiment he repeated when we lost my
nephew to a terrible accident nearly eight years ago, and again when
my father's heart attack and triple bypass surgery made us fearful
of losing him in 1995. He and Grandma were married for 64 years. 64
and endured 9 children, hard times, good times
always shared a deep and abiding love that has been an inspiration
to all of us.
Hollyhocks and Mulberries
When I was a child, I used to spend some time each summer with Grandma
and Grandpa. I remember being very small, I think about 6 years old,
and having been tucked away upstairs in a room all alone in that HUGE
house, (I know, all grandmas houses are HUGE) I was afraid of
the dark. And monsters. And burglars. And other various terrible
things (I really cant remember if the lion that lived in my closet
at home had followed me the 75 miles to my grandparents house
Dad took care of HIM every night and kept him in his place).
So I trucked down the stairs and crawled in bed with Grandma and Grandpa.
Grandpa assured me there was nothing to be afraid of
he told me, I was better off upstairs than he was downstairs...because
if there was anything that was going to get us
it was going to
get him first! Well, in thinking that over, I decided to go back upstairs.
If anything got Grandpa first, I would hear the ruckus and I could
make my escape
Nothing did of course. And I spent many a happy
summer day there. Then there was the garden
Oh, that garden! I have never before or since seen a more glorious
array of flowers. All kinds. All colors. Some, like the Bells of Ireland,
I have never seen again. Some, like pansies, which have become my favorite
flower, I see all the time. And all of them wonderful. The hot, steamy
Kansas sun beat down and I would sit among the flowers for hours. Picking
hollyhocks. Making hollyhock dolls (hey, all my cousins: did Grandma
teach all of you to make those too?) Playing out scenes with the hollyhock
dolls as if they were the fanciest Barbie doll and friends on the market
having a childhood that no one can beat. Making memories that even
now, 36 years later, make my heart sing.
The mulberry tree
now there was a place that every cousin I have
talked to loved just as much as I did. We climbed that tree and sat
among its branches eating the sweet fruit for hours. We (okay,
I) ruined a brand-new outfit in that tree, the carefully appliqued
pink butterfly with the stand-up wings my mother had sewed me turned
to pink-with-purple-splotches. It didn't come out. It wore traces of
my favorite tree ever after.
Grandma made us mulberry pie. Grandma made us mulberry cobbler. Grandma
inspired us all to be creative cooks. She had to be
9 children during the Depression. Those of us too young to have lived
through those years will never understand what they went through then.
What they lost. What they gained. Yes, gained
they gained a strength
and faith from those years we all share now. We are better people because
of all they went through. And I love them for it.
A life well lived
At Grandpas 95th Birthday Party and Family Reunion (said as
if it were all one word!), he was making his way slowly toward the
door of the Senior Citizen Center where the party was being held, his
walker moving slowly forward one slow, hard step at a time, when my
father put his hand on Grandpas arm and said, "Where are
you going, Dad?"
To which Grandpa replied, "I'm going home."
Dad said, "But theres no one there."
And grandpas retort was this, "There will be as soon as
I get there."
He never lost that sense of humor, that spark of life
has passed on to us. Sometimes our humor is so dry that no one else
gets our jokes
we dont care. We get them. And we know that
Grandpa would get them too. Because thats part of the legacy
he left us.
I remember also at Grandpas 95th Birthday Party and Family Reunion
he looked around at all the family: brothers and sisters, aunt and
uncles, cousins and babies and children, all drawn there together by
a common bond, and said, "Look what I started!." He surely
did. They did, he and Grandma together. And what they started is lasting.
And in our families and the love we all share, this wonderful man lives
on. In my parents. In Dads brothers and sisters. In their families.
In me. In my children. And now in my childrens children. And
I cannot think of any better tribute than that. I love you, Grandpa.
Rest in peace. You done good.
designs and images on these pages are copyrighted to me, Sara Froehlich
and Northlite Designs. If you want to use something you see, please
contact me for permission. Thank you!
updated on May 24, 2004