Learning From Ghosts

Grandma and Grandpa's Wedding Day
Grandma and Grandpa’s Wedding Day

I usually get my inspiration for posts from pictures that I have or things I would like to take pictures of to share.  This picture is one of my grandparents’ wedding.  I want to give you a little background story of my grandparents, how they met and a bit about their lives.  This is not going to be a rant about my OCD or how difficult my life sometimes is.  This is somewhat of an ode to the amazing people in this world who never win an award, who aren’t actors in films or famous politicians, but are normal, everyday people who do great things and should be recognized.

Orville and Rosemary (my grandparents) met just prior to the Korean War and they pretty much knew they wanted to get married, but my grandfather was drafted and had to leave the country.  Luckily, my grandfather was sent to officer school and was able to train other soldiers at a training camp in Germany, so he never actually stepped foot on Korean soil.  During this time, my grandparents wrote one another overseas and on the very rare occasion, my grandfather made a very short and very expensive transatlantic phone call to the US to talk to his family and to Rosemary.  When he came back, it wasn’t long before they finally said “I do.”

Living in a small, rural community also meant that they were poor for quite some time.  I know bits and pieces about their early married life, but I would feel foolish to put them together incorrectly, so I’m just going to leave those details out.  I remember one thing specifically, though.  My grandmother had 7 children, 6 boys and 1 girl.  Throughout the duration of all 7 pregnancies, she wore the same red winter coat.  Evidence of this can be found in several family photos.  She wanted to give her kids all she could and never spent a dime on herself, even when they were able to afford much more.  This is the kind of woman my grandmother was; truly selfless.

I only knew my grandfather as a farmer, but I knew he had another profession before that and I want to say it had something to do with logging, but I’m not certain.  Anyway, the point of that is, my grandparents build a quaint little farmstead in rural Indiana, the place I remember fondly as a child.  My dad built a house on an adjacent property to my grandparents, which was only about 100 yards away, so I was over at their house quite often.  My grandmother was the BEST cook and I’m not just being biased.  She made the best German-American food I’ve ever eaten or ever will eat.

My parents got divorced when I was 7 I think, but I actually don’t know my exact age!  How’s that possible?  I was young and I guess I didn’t even know how old I was 🙂  Throughout my childhood and through adolescence, my brother, sister, and I would go back and forth between mom’s house and dad’s house.  I can honestly say that it wasn’t easy and sometimes it was uncomfortable, but really they did a great job of keeping their quarrels out of our sight and they never fought or yelled in front of us.  I appreciate that now looking back.  Even though it was a divorce, things could have been much worse.

On the days we went to dad’s house, we usually hopped off the bus at the corner to my grandmother’s house and went there instead.  Dad was usually working in the fields or with the animals, so it was always funner to go to grandma’s.  Plus, she always had food ready!  I know that she wanted to make everything good in our lives because of the divorce and I know that out of the 22 grandchildren, us 3 were the most special to her.  Now, she would never have admitted this, but I know that it was true.  There were times that she would tell us things that I know she could never or would never say to any of the other grandchildren.  The funniest thing I remember her ever saying, which was so out of character for her, happened when a helicopter was flying over our farm.  I’m not sure why it was there, but it was and it was there for some time.  My grandmother said the funniest thing I have ever heard her say at that moment, “Gosh, I hope they don’t fly over that back pasture and see my marijuana crop!”  She was our closest, loving friend and grandmother and I have so many fond memories of her.  That’s why, even five years later, I have trouble bringing up her name without tearing up.

It was five years ago, and I can hardly believe it was really that long ago already, that my grandmother passed away.  Two years prior when I was fifteen I think, she was diagnosed with uteran cancer.  I remember being at her house when she told me.  My sister and I came over to work on my quilt and my head was down looking at the needle as it passed up and down through the thick batting and fabric.  Grandma was standing in the doorway and she calmly said, “Well girls, I went to the doctor today and I found out I have cancer.”  At that moment, it felt like someone punched my stomach and took the breath out of me.  I wanted to burst out crying and run to her and hug her, but instead I kept my head bent down, the tears falling on the quilt.

We thought that after bout of chemotherapy and surgery and a year and a half of remission from the uteran cancer that maybe she had beat it, but it came back with a vengeance in her liver.  She didn’t live long after it hit her liver, maybe a month or six weeks.  She passed away on July 27, 2007, when I was 17.  I was at her side when she passed, holding her hand until it became heavy, cold, and lifeless.  Dying is not how you imagine it.  It’s not like in the movies when a person’s eyes just close and that’s the end.  Nope.  I wish it were like that.  She held on for a good hour or more, with not enough energy to open her eyes or talk, but just enough to keep gasping for breath.  We wanted her to go so badly, just so that the pain would stop, but she didn’t want to.  The day before when she was still conscious, she told me, “We had some fun times girls, didn’t we?  I’m not ready to go.”  At 71, I didn’t feel like she was ready either.  She was too young in my eyes and being nearly a saint, she didn’t deserve to die the way she did.  The only solace I really have in her passing was the fact that her entire close family was there at her side.  There was so much love in that room.

I miss her so much, every day really.  It seems like not even one day goes by that I don’t think about her.  I keep her wedding photo and a photo of her with us the day before she passed, skin yellowed from jaundice, hanging up in my home.  Even though some memories are painful, they don’t deserve to be pushed away.  Because of my grandmother, I don’t regret a single moment of my life.  She made me see how precious life is and how we should never take all the good things we have in life for granted.

Never live with regrets.




57 thoughts on “Learning From Ghosts

  1. hi, megan, what country are you in? what’s your nationality? just a little curious.

    1. Hello,

      I’m very sorry that I haven’t replied to your comments. For some reason, all the ones you left were going to my SPAM folder. I will go back and try to answer some of your questions. Again, sorry about that. I am from the US, so I’m American 🙂 You?

  2. Oh honey, that was a fantastic tribute to Rosemary, she truly was a fantastic woman, and I really believe you are right when you said that the 3 of you were her favorite grandkids…I’ve known that all along.

  3. Both of my grandparents are still alive, but I feel you. I actually had to stop reading the rest of the post and fight back tears.

  4. This post made me think of my very own grandmother who died years ago from diabetes.. She took care of me when I was young and I love her so much.. But I believe she’s in a much better place now…but as Sirius black
    once said, ” The ones that love us never truly leave us…”

    1. It is so difficult to lose someone who has been so close to you throughout your life and impacted your childhood in such a major way. I believe if anyone can go to heaven, it is her. Thank you for the words of encouragement.

  5. Hi Megan,
    I truly loved your story. There are great memories that are remembered for many years in our lives. This one is for you and those you share with. For some the struggles in our lives give us strength to change the world in which we live finding answers within us.
    Thanks for sharing,

    1. Hello Billie,

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing such kind words. This is definitely something to be remembered and I felt that by sharing, I could let go of some of the sadness. Everyone has been supportive and I appreciate the support you have shown me as well. Thank you again.

  6. Wonderful story and wonderful memories about your Grandmother! It`s a coincidence I came across on your posting today `cause today is my Grandmother`s birthday. She was also a wonderful lady. When she was around you would only feel Love and peace. Thanks a lot for sharing your story. I enjoyed reading it. And also thank you for liking my post “One perfect moment”. 🙂

    1. Your grandmother sounds like a beautiful spirit. It’s hard to find a grandmother that isn’t. I think it’s not coincidence that you came by my post. I was especially missing her the day I wrote it and I needed someone’s words of encouragement like yours for support. Thank you for stopping by. I truly appreciate it.

  7. Hi Megan,

    I enjoyed reading your post about your grandmother. I recently lost mine and it brought up memories of mine. I love telling the story of how my grandmother was 1 1/2 pounds when she was born back in the 1020’s and wasn’t suppose to live (they put her in a shoebox and kept her warm by the oven). WELL she LIVED. She only wanted 2 kids when she got married and ended up having 10! That family was her life and her greatest joy was being with her family. Thank you for sharing and bringing back memories for me!


    1. Your grandmother sounds like a strong spirit. There was a reason why she survived even though she was extremely premature. It takes a strong woman to raise ten children. You were blessed to have the memories you shared with her.

  8. What an amazing story about your grandmother. I thank you for sharing your story, and memories. Thank you for stopping by my blog, and liking a post. My biggest fear about having Parkinson’s, is Dementia. I never want to forget my family, and the memories we have had. This is one of the reasons I started my blog, so I can tell my story, and throw in some memories. Thank you again, and be blessed.

    1. I understand your fears having seen my great grandmother deteriorate with Dementia, forgetting that I was her granddaughter, and calling me her niece. I pray that this never happens to you. Keep strong and continue letting your beautiful spirit shine 🙂

  9. It’s true, you never realize how special life is until you lose those that are close. I lost my mother and my grandparents on my mom and dad’s recently. It almost makes you numb to death but I guess because of that I don’t really worry about death and in turn I live my life as awesome as I can. Since than I have made it my mission to help others do the same. Good luck to you and also thank you for checking my blog out!

    1. It is important to realize that the things we have are not permanent and can easily slip away. My heart goes out to you for the grief you must have felt for losing your loved ones. I understand you. Realizing that others can benefit from the good we do, now that is a true gift.

  10. Just remember she is only a whisper away waiting to meet you some day….great read. I could feel your pain! A marvelous tribute to someone you loved very much, your grandmother, who I think should have lived on many years. Many blessings!

  11. What an wonderful tribute to your grandmother. I was not fortunate to know either one of the my grandparents and that is something that I miss. I now have my own granddaughter and I cherish every moment I spend with her. There is such a special bond between the grands. You certainly had that experience with yours. Thank you for sharing and thank you also for stopping by my blog KickFearNow.

    1. I was very blessed to have them all in my life. I know not every gets that opportunity. My great grandfather passed when he was 47, so my mother never knew him. She misses that I’m sure. Thank you for sharing your story.

  12. Oh bud. Of course I am crying. I miss her so bad, too. But I also laughed about the marijuana crop. What about that “weed” growing in her basement? Lol!!!

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