28 May 2013

Who I Was Remembering

My Father's mother is an amazing woman. She is the lovely Judy Garland-esque lady on the left.

When I was young I thought she was kind of surly. She always made us really neat gifts, and would smile when we came, but she didn't have the warm fuzzy kind of personality that I was used to from my other grandma. But she loved us a lot.

As I grew up, and learned her story, I understood how it would have been difficult for her to come across any other way. She was stoic, not surly. Okay, maybe a tiny bit surly, but mostly stoic. She had to learn to be that way for her children.

Grandfather was in the military serving in Vietnam. Dad was 3 years old, his younger brother was 3 months old,and there were also three older children in the family.  One day grandpa went out on a reconnaissance mission, and never made it back to base. The plane just vanished. He and the other men with him were just gone.

My grandma Jeanie never heard from or about her husband again. She had just had a baby, had four other children, and was in her early thirties. She never remarried. She hoped for a really long time. It was possible that he could reappear. She was alone for over 40 years.

When I was old enough to understand this story, my heart broke for her. 

When we were cleaning up her house after she died I found one of the first editions of the military size Books of Mormon tucked away in a closet or drawer.  Weeks later the pages on the inside cover started to peel apart. I saw writing there, and finished separating them. Inside was a love letter she had written to my Grandfather before she had sent the book overseas. It had come back to her, and she had glued those pages shut, so she wouldn't have to see it, but so the book could still be used. 

I can't imagine that kind or degree of pain. She was an amazing woman. She raised five children on her own, and did a pretty darn good job. Even if she did throw rocks at them when they climbed trees to avoid well earned punishments. I think it is a parenting tactic I might adopt.

So, yesterday, I was remembering them. A grandfather who gave it all in the service of his country, and a grandmother who gave even more.

Proof of what? That Uncle Bob was a cute baby once...?

 Isn't she lovely?

Who were you remembering?


Jessica Anderson said...

Love this. I have a great-grandma with a similar story, but I don't really know it. Reading this makes me want to have a chat with my grandpa. I think it's so neat that you're named after her (right?), I wish I would have been named after someone - which is why all my kids will be.

Andrea Folkman said...

Karlie, this story is so touching!

Lindsey said...

That is awesome that you know so much about her story! Also awesome that Shane looks like the male version of her :)