It's weird to think that I no longer have living grandparents. I've had nearly 56 years of having grandparents, at least one of them. My own great-grandmother (the last of my great-grandparents and the only one alive after my early childhood) died when I was 26. Of my four grandparents, my dad's father died when I was 5; I don't remember him at all. He's still out there on the Internet, though...you can Google and find a lot of his medical papers and writings on early cancer research. His wife, my dad's mother, died in 1990 and my mom's father passed away in 1993. I was a young adult by then, and I had fond memories of both of them, having spent many holidays and summers visiting them in Chicago and Detroit, respectively. And now, my mom's mom in 2020, 27 years after her husband.
My grandmother, the one who left us today, made the best gingersnap cookies in the world. Her cookie jar was always full; in fact, many of my memories of her are in the kitchen. I remember her letting us make little pie patties from leftover pie dough, sprinkling them with cinnamon and sugar. She made fantastic Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners and loved having the whole family around. She was a keen Bridge player, into her late 90s, and I remember her dancing with my grandad to Lawrence Welk's television show when I was small. She loved her family, her kids and grandkids and made her home welcoming and cozy for all of us when we descended upon her. She rooted for the Detroit Tigers, was a crossword fanatic and loved ice cream. I remember her in the evenings at family parties, with a drink in one hand, sitting at the card table, playing cards, laughing and joking with everyone. I think being surrounded by family made her happier than anything.
Typical family evening: Aunt Kathie, Aunt Joanne, Uncle Mike, Grandma, Uncle Sam, and my mom
I know small details about her life, but realize that there are huge gaps in my knowledge. I know when she married my granddad, but not how they met (though I might have been told at some point, and subsequently forgotten). I know she worked with my grandfather at his tool & die company for years, but not what she did during the war, for example. I know that she had very little family of her own and really adopted her husband's entire gigantic clan wholeheartedly. I plan on talking to my mom soon to write down more stories and memories and events of her life. She told us lots of stories over the years, but I never wrote them down at the time. Stupid. Write stuff down. Always, always, write stuff down. Your memory is more fragile and scattered than you know.
My grandmother as a small child
Babes on the beach: My grandma is in the center, with 4 of my grandad's sister's around her (Mary & Leta on the left, Flossie & Arla on the right), mid-1950s
50th wedding anniversary, 1981: Wallace S. Pangborn and Bernice McNally Pangborn
Laughing with my Uncle Sam
Still partying at 100 years old!
With great-grandkids Martin and Karin, summer 2016
Eating ice cream, a favorite treat
Rest in peace, Grandma. And say hi to Granddad!