Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sad and stories

Eric's Grandma, Maxine Willman, passed away in the wee small hours this morning. We're all glad she's in a better place, and we know it for sure, and that she's in no more pain and all that; but she was a really neat woman, and she will be sorely missed. The funeral is going to be Friday, and ironically, I'm looking forward to seeing Eric's family, who are all wonderful, and it will be neat to celebrate her Faith and her life.

In her last days, there have been many great "Grandma Stories" being shared. And I have decided I want to write the ones I've heard down. Not so you guys will mourn her loss with us, but just because she was a really neat woman. I don't journal, I don't compose. I blog. It's my outlet, you know.

The first time I met Grandma Willman: Eric and I had only been dating a couple months, and he was already taking me to meet the Fam (the whole extended family!). I had been invited to Willman Family Christmas, traditionally held the Saturday before Christmas. Just walking into the room was like walking back in time. Grandma and Aunt Betty were bustling in the kitchen. I mean, seriously Bustling, much preparation was going on. There were kids laughing and running everywhere. Eric has 11 cousins. I had 1 cousin, 10 years younger, most of the time it was my Mom, sister and I, and my extended family was just completely different than any of this. Just mathmatically speaking, the difference in number of crazy children running wild, 14 total, Eric being the oldest.
I don't think they knew I was coming. But it didn't matter, I was literally welcomed with open arms, got lots of hugs, and when they were doing their gift exchange. Then Grandma broke out her gifts for the kids that year, she had made blanket/pillows (you know the ones that can convert from blanket to pillow?) for every grandchild. Every Grandchild! 14! She had to have started in January, I was amazed. I even got a present! That made my eyes water. She was the stereotypical image of a Grandma I always read about: a good cook, and just loved being surrounded by the noises of her family.

How Grandma and Grandpa met: It was WWII. Isn't that how most of our grandparents stories begin? Anyway, Grandpa was in the Air Force, doing Air Force things in Colorado. Grandma was from that area. Grandma's church, the local Lutheran church, was good deed doing. They would bring home "boys" for a weekend, or invite them over for dinner, a nice home cooked dinner with family, for these guys who were so far from home, especially over holidays, when they couldn't make it home. Well, Grandpa went over Grandma's house. They started writing...fell in love...married as soon as the war was over...happily ever after.

Dollie Beth's story: Dollie Beth is Eric's Dad's cousin. Grandpa was the youngest of a passle of children, and so he already had nieces and nephews before he ever got married. Dollie Beth was 12 when Grandpa brought "Aunt Max" home for the first time. Here she was, a great "City Girl". The Fam was thick in Marion and Gas City, small town, Indiana. She was raised in Denver, and had been working in New York City. (Grandma was a chemist while Grandpa was in the Air Force in Florida she was doing chemistry in New York, I think that's the story) Talk about your big city girls! When she appeared, she was just Dollie Beth's epitome of Fashion. Stylish, beautiful, fabulous, and there she was with....an ankle bracelet. Dollie Beth had never seen one before, and it was cool. Cooler than cool. She SO wanted to be like Aunt Max, and have an ankle bracelet. She was 23 before she got her first ankle bracelet. She spent all that time pining and bugging her mother for an ankle bracelet.

Aunt Jill's story: Eric's aunt said, I never heard her say a mean word about anyone. That's true. Me neither. Same can't be said for me.

Dad's story: Grandma started out as a scientist. (Woo hoo!) I think her initial degree was in Biology or Chemistry. Once she hooked up with Grandpa, she became a stay at home mom and had 6 boys, 4 survived, a pair of premature twins didn't make it, but that's another story. So, once all 4 of the boys were in school, Grandma went back to school. She got her teaching credentials and taught Math at the High School. Willmans are good at math. Dad was telling a story about when Grandma took Child Psychology. The class was taught by an old spinster (his words not Grandma's), and one evening Grandma came home especially flustered. She was talking about all the things this woman was trying to teach, finally Grandma could take it no longer. She stood up, "I've raised 4 boys, and I just have to tell you. That just won't work." That cracked me up. She wouldn't even yell at her in a good yell, just pointing out the flaws in her logic.

Eric's story: This is one of my favorite stories about Eric and Ryan (younger brother #1) when they were young. When Karl (brother #2) was born, Grandma came down, in February, in the snow to watch the boys ages 11 and 9. Eric and Ryan were in the back seat of their car (in my mind it's a big 80's boat-mobile with a huge back seat, but I don't know if that's real) and were arguing and fighting. Grandma was trying to drive, in near blizzard conditions. She shhhh'd them a couple times, and they weren't listening. They kept fighting, playing Picky Slappy, being noisy annoying boys. Finally she turned around, and in near a yell as anyone in history has ever heard Grandma yell, told them "Be Quiet!!" Neither boy said a word the rest of the trip.

Now see, would I have stopped at Be Quiet? Oh no. We were told that my father would pull over and "knock heads together". Those boys would've deserved their head knocked together, but all Grandma had to do was tell them to Be Quiet.


Carrie said...

My condolences

SuperSillyAunt said...

Yeah...that Grandma...she was great! I think that too even though my own Grandma was the best too! I know that heaven is already a truly wonderful place, but I think it just got even more wonderful on Tuesday! Can you just picture her getting to hold the twins? I can't wait to hear more wonderful stories tomorrow and Friday.

Cathy said...

Yeah. Amen.

Anonymous said...

Sending my condolences a little late but definitely heart felt