Sunday, June 1, 2008

What Can I Say?

We returned today from a weekend trip up North for the memorial service for my grandmother (who we all called Gramma). During the service, some folks said some very kind, and true, things about my grandma, and I wondered what I could add - but with a bit more time to think, here are some of my favorite memories of my grandma, in no particular order:

  • She always listened to WGN radio and completed the Chicago Tribune crossword puzzle
  • Early to bed and early to rise -- she was regularly awake by 5:30 without the aid of an alarm clock, and accordingly, would dose as she watched the 9:00 p.m. news on WGN channel 9.
  • She was full of energy, up until she passed. Gramma enjoyed taking walks periodically throughout the day, and she always commented about the weather.
  • White Keds - particularly in the summer, Gramma would nearly always wear a pair of white Keds
  • Her working in the children's section of the St. Charles Public Library. When I would go to the library to do research or homework, I would always go downstairs and visit with her when she was working.
  • Nightly baths: Gramma didn't take showers.
  • Listerine: she always had a bottle of original Listerine to gargle with in her bathroom, and I can still taste that horrible stuff after trying it once when I was a child.
  • Coffee - Gramma loved to drink coffee, and would always order a cup of 'decaf' with any meal.
  • Generosity: I lived with her for an entire summer prior to returning to EIU to begin graduate school, and she put me up without a second thought.
  • She was a voracious reader
  • Her sense of humor was amazing, and her laugh could brighten up anyone's day.
  • "Hey, this is your nickel, kid." Whenever I would call her, she would wrap up a phone call, often a brief phone call, by saying this. She appreciated the call, but didn't want you to spend your money.
  • Barnes and Noble: around Christmas, it seemed that she would regularly get a Barnes and Noble gift card (or Borders) and she loved spending time in any of those stores, browsing the rows and books. And, afterwards, we'd get some coffee.
  • Taking her out to lunch at the cafe of Townhouse Books (a small, independent bookstore in St. Charles, Illinois). The food was simple, but the outdoor eating and conversation were great.
  • Conversation - she could talk, but she was also a good listener.
  • Her love of cats: dogs were okay, but she had a very special place in her heart for cats. I don't know whether she grew up with cats or not, but Kitty was her and my grandpa's cat for many years.
  • 66 'wacko' - When she moved into her apartment, that was a bit more supervised than an independent living facility, but less so than a nursing home, my grandma called her room, which was 66W, 66 Wacko, but after some time, she came to appreciate that little apartment, and I bet she forgot about the 'wacko.'
  • 7-11 slurpees: yes, I think this is where my love for frozen cokes was established. In Wilmette, IL, my grandparents owned a True Value hardware store, but behind it was a 7-11, and Gramma would take the grandkids over for a treat.
  • Trident gum and Tic-Tacs: she always had Trident gum and a variety of Tic-Tacs in a drawer in the kitchen, along with some Twizzlers in a cabinet.
  • And most of all, I am reminded of how likeable Gramma was. Before the service, upon news of her passing, at the service, and afterwards, so many friends and family mentioned just how great of a person she was, and I cannot imagine anyone not liking her, for she was a very kind, gentle, and caring woman -- precisely, she was the best 'Gramma' a person could ask for.
Her obituary reads:
Barbara M. Brown of Batavia, formerly a resident of St Charles died May 21 at the Holmstad in Batavia. Barbara Ann Mills was born March 29, 1925 in St Louis, MO, daughter of George Glenn Mills and Dorothy Knight Herold. She grew up in Evanston and Highland Park, IL. After graduation from Highland Park High School, she entered Northwestern University in Evanston. While studying at the School of Drama, she met Edgar James Brown of Williston, ND. They were married at Highland Park February 25, 1945. They resided in Chicago, Park Forest, Wilmette and Glenview before moving to St Charles after retirement in 1986. Barbara was a loving mother, an extraordinary Cub Scout Den Mother, a Brownie leader and an active participant in school activities. She was an accomplished actress appearing in many amateur theatrical productions in Wilmette. Over the years she also recorded a number of talking books for Books for the Blind. She was a member of the North American Manx Association and made a trip to the Isle of Man in 1993. Barbara's love of reading and books led her to work in the Wilmette Public Library and the St. Charles Public Library. She was a member of the Fox Valley Presbyterian Church. Her husband predeceased her in 1999. She is survived by her daughter Mrs P.J. Dockter of St. Charles and her son, James G Brown of Barrington, RI, five grand children and two great-grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Holmstad, 700 West Fabyan Parkway, Batavia, IL 60510 and the CNS Home Health Care Hospice, 690 East North Ave, Carol Stream, IL 60188. A memorial service will be held Saturday, May 31 at 11:00 am at the Fox Valley Presbyterian Church in Geneva. Cremation Society of Illinois handling arrangements.



Michael Leddy said...

Your remembering made me remember my grandparents' schedule -- they were up at 5:00 or so every morning.

I'm sorry for your loss, Jason.

Kelvin Oliver said...

Very fond memories of your grandmother. I enjoyed reading your mememories of her. It is a pleasure to read and hear about those kind people who are older than I. Take care.