Minions (who do my bidding) and Followers (who do not)

About Me

My photo
Mama, wife, knitter, blogger, spinner, wannabe something or other. That's enough, right?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Six Years

Six years ago today, two things happened in my life that will have long-lasting impacts.

On this date, six years ago, my maternal grandmother passed away.

Agnes Lucille Johnston was born September 19, 1926 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the oldest of four children of James Edward Johnston and his wife, Martha Louise (Fagerlind) Johnston. She grew up during the Great Depression and although things were not always easy, her father was employed at US Rubber (which is now Uniroyal), which kept food on the table and a roof over their heads. Her siblings were Edward James Johnston, Jeanne M., and Eugene. She went to Eau Claire Senior High School (now Eau Claire North High School), graduating in 1944, the middle of World War II. Many of her male classmates went off to war, some even before graduation, if they were old enough. She met the love of her life, George Anton Green, sometime in mid-1945 but he, like so many of her male classmates, went off to war. I have two little letter boxes filled with the letters he wrote to her while he was overseas. He was discharged in November 1946 and they were married on December 21, 1946 in St. Paul, Minnesota. A daughter, Shirley Ann Green, was born to them on May 25, 1947. Yes, go ahead and do the math...grandma was pregnant when my mom was born. I was told that my mom was 6-8 weeks early but even if that were true, grandma was still pregnant when she got married. They continued to live in Eau Claire until 1951 when an army buddy of my grandfather's convinced them to move to Stoughton, Wisconsin, just outside of Madison. The move was difficult but they persevered. The people of Stoughton were....well, they didn't like newcomers and made it quite well-known. Stoughton was settled by Norwegian immigrants during the mid-1850s and pretty much stayed that way until well into the 1960s, when more and more people began to adventure past their hometowns. My grandparents were definitely outsiders, not a drop of Norwegian blood between them (grandpa was full-blooded German and grandma was Scottish, Irish, and (God-forbid!) Swedish). But, they pushed through and by the time my mother had graduated from Stoughton High School in 1965, they were well-established in the community. Agnes took up rosemalling during this period, eventually getting good enough to teach others the old Norwegian technique of rose painting (she stopped teaching in 2002, just after my mother died). She traveled several times to places like Decorah, Iowa and Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin, and Viroqua, Wisconsin to take classes in rosemalling from some of Norway's most respected painters at the time. She was also a crocheter, as evidenced by all the crochet hooks I found that belonged to her...and all the crocheted doilies...and the pattern books. She could also knit. I found a little baby sweater, along with other baby ephemera from the late-40s. She was also a fantastic cook (seriously, grandpa, why the hell did you complain?!). In 2001, her only child died (which is a whole other story) and after that, she was never quite the same. My grandfather was able to go to work and otherwise distract himself. My grandmother sat at home thinking, "who is going to take care of me when George is gone?" She drove herself into madness, honestly. When George fell off his office chair and broke his hip in 2006, I had the displeasure of putting both of them into a nursing home. I didn't want to do it but it was either that or I give up everything, move in with my grandparents, and take care of her, which was not something I was prepared or qualified to do. She passed away on November 9, 2010 in the nursing home.

I was unable to take the call from the nursing home and they, instead, called my grandmother's youngest brother & his wife, who lived just a few blocks away and were listed as emergency contacts if I couldn't be reached.

I was about 15 miles away at the time, in the hospital, in the middle of a c-section.

Yes, on this date, six years ago, November 9, 2010, Little Man came into this world.

He was a stubborn little thing, causing all sorts of problems, refusing to turn (because, as we discovered during the c-section, he was stuck and couldn't turn)...but, he came screaming into the world just after 8am that November morning. He was 7 lbs, 3 oz., and 22" long. The pediatrician in the room, Dr. Goelzer, requested he be measured again because there was no way that child could be 22" long. And asked again. Three times Little Man was remeasured and all three times, he was 22" long. He was a long skinny little thing. He had jaundice so he spent some time under the Bili lights in the NICU but was declared perfectly fine to go home four days later, which was the day of my grandmother's funeral. Can you imagine taking a 4 day old infant into the germ factory that was a funeral?! We did it because it was family. If it hadn't been a close family member, we wouldn't have done it. So, my grandmother's entire side of the family met Little Man when he was less than a week old (and some of them haven't seen him since then).

In some ways, it doesn't feel like six years have passed but as I'm watching Little Man put together a puzzle (because I'm writing this a day early), it's obvious how much time has passed.

How's that for a WIP Wednesday update?


  1. It was interesting to learn about your grandmother. I had to Google rosemalling because I haven't heard of it before. What an art form; it's so pretty. And I think it's so sweet how you have your grandparents's letters.

  2. Oh Renee, the complexities of love and family. Thank you so much for sharing this, the story of your grandmother, and the story of little man's birth. Every life is so fraught with challenges, with bright moments and hardships. It's odd to think of the challenges your grandparents faced as 'outsiders' at the time. It seems as long as there has been the new world, there have been immigrants, and our attitudes about who belongs and how hard newcomers have to fight for acceptance has changed little in all this time.