Tuesday, September 8, 2009


A month ago I was at the cemetery in Illinois where several of my relatives are buried. The occasion was the internment of my Mother's youngest sister, Jean. Aunt Jeanie's children placed flowers not only on their mother's grave but at several aunts and uncles that are buried there also. One set of headstones, prompts this entry and that was of my mother's parents. Jeremiah Porter Duell and Jennifer Halverson Duell
My Father's parents really were not in the picture of my childhood. I have pictures of them holding me as a baby but they did not come up to the resort to visit, maybe once? I have no recollection of them in my memory what so ever.
My Mom's parents, however, were quite involved. They would come up to the resort and pitch right in to help with projects. Grandpa, especially was handy. I think one had to be for one of his jobs was part owner and greens keeper of a golf course in Illinois. I remember him making steps up a hill to two of our cottages. He used boards and dirt to make steps. When it would rain, I used to like to watch the water come cascading down his steps. It was grandpa that got me interested in sports rather than my Dad. Grandpa would pitch this white,soft b-ball size, sponge rubber ball to me and I would hit it. I can' remember who would fetch it. He would have been in his early 60's, at this time I would guess.
A big event in my young summer life was where my parents would put me on a train and send me down to Grayslake for a week or two. (Out of their hair for a bit) This is where my grandparents lived and two sets of cousins all within one block of each other. Another family lived out of town on a farm and a fourth family in a nearby town. Oh, what great times we would have. I love to hear my cousins tell stories of my grandparents of which they has so many more than I do. They were around them all the time and for me, I only had a couple of times a year.
My grandparents had a shower stall. I had never saw a shower stall before. What an odd thing that was! What sort of games could you play in a shower? Grandma was a large woman and a shower was much easier for her to get in and out of compared to a tub. I would pick up things living with them those few weeks and then take these experiences back to my home. They were not always welcome back in my own domicile. Two things I remember specifically, that did not go over well with my mother at all: Grandpa used to mix his mashed potatoes, gravy and vegetables all up and then eat them. He would say, "They all end up in the same place anyway." When I tried this new eating practice and quoted my grandfather, I was told that would not do that in this house. Jeepers! I mentioned that Grandma was a large lady so when she would shake rugs, she would take her foot and roll the rug up. Seemed to make sense to me. I did not have to bend my little fat body over so much or for as long. However, when I tried this new found technique at home, I was promptly told that I would not roll up rugs that way even if Grandma had done it that way. So much for learning from senior citizens.
Grandma gave me my first Bible. It was a King James. Of course! She once told me, and I have not idea why, that I would make a good pastor someday. I remember thinking, No way! I would have to give up golf and my love of sports. Pastors don't have any fun. I think she put in some spiritual seeds in me but I can't think of anything specific except the suggestion of being a pastor. I know her favorite Psalm was 71 but I don't know how I know that either except it was recorded in an old Bible of mine. I really got no spiritual input from my folks like I have stated in my testimony entry.
If our family would happen to be there on Christmas eve, I could hear Santa's reindeer bells ringing outside. And were supposed to sleep that night with presents opened in the a.m.? No kids seemed to notice that Grandpa was missing during the time we heard the bells. Oh, we wanted to believe sooo bad.
My cousins tell me that Grandma ruled the roost. I don't recall observing that but then again, they were around them so much more. I do remember them both being kind, especially grandpa. He died the spring I finished my first year in college and I was there for the funeral. Grandma would write me when I was in the coast guard and she died when I was still enlisted. I did not come to her funeral. My Mom buried my Dad and her own mother in the same year, I remember.
Just looking through old pictures reminds me of a different era, a slower pace, for sure, a greater degree of innocence. Sigh!
(A word about the pictures: The 40th anniversary sure does look like a sad couple. Mom and I are coming up on our 40th. I'm glad we don't look that old. The second pix taken in 1957 looks more like I remember them. They were not a grumpy couple as I remember)