My beloved Grandma Amsler has gone home to be with her Lord and Savior. It wasn’t something that came as a surprise to any of us who knew and loved her. Grandma had reached her 97th year, was in fact 6 weeks away from 98, when she stepped into the presence of the Lord. She had for many years longed to go home. She missed Grandpa, who died 7 years almost to the day, before she did. She missed her sisters and her parents and her many friends. She was ready, even if we were not.
My Grandmother Amsler was a constant presence in my life even if we were separated by space. I was her only granddaughter, all the rest were grandsons. I was the oldest grandchild. In fact, until I was 17 there were no other grandchildren, just Pilot Man and I. It was a great position to hold I can tell you. Oh yes it was.
Elizabeth Julia Mortenson Amsler was born on March 26, 1912 in Evanston, Illinois. As she always liked to remind us she was either the first or second Caesarean section ever done at Evanston Hospital. Always the trail blazer was Grandma. The youngest daughter of Adele Johanne Estburg and Anneanus Duabaus Mortenson she described herself as a “scamp”, always up to mischief. I can believe it, she always had a twinkle in her eye.
Grandma was fun, just plain old fun. I loved their house, I loved visiting, I love spending time with them. When I was little I knew that when I arrived there would be a head of lettuce washed and waiting for me in the refrigerator. I loved lettuce, just plain old lettuce and she knew it.She was a constant in my life, from the get go. She and Grandpa didn’t live in the same town as I did and sometimes didn’t live in the same state. But whenever we were together it was special. How do you condense into one blog post 50 years of memories. Of summers when I went strawberry picking at Lurvey’s farm with her. Of popovers and Chicken Country Captain and that awful Hot Fruit Compote that she made and seemed to think that I liked. Sorry Grandma but anything that is hot and thick and includes prunes is something that I am going to avoid like liver. Of Easter at her house, where I always knew that there would be an Easter basket waiting outside the bedroom door on Easter morning. Of the smell of her house. Whether it was the house in Greenville or Dousman or Wheaton her house always smelled the same. In fact, I can go over to the corner cupboard that I have that belonged to EMA, open the door and smell her house, even after all these years.Even now I think of Grandma daily as I pick up my knitting. If it could be knit Grandma could knit it. I don’t ever remember a time when, if she was sitting she wasn’t knitting. And Grandma was missing part of her index finger on her right hand which makes knitting a bit more difficult. She lost the end of her finger in an unfortunate “vacuum cleaner” accident when she was a child.
Grandma was the person who taught me to knit. Here you can see Pilot Man as my yarn slave. As it should be, he being the younger and me having the pointy sticks in my hand. Today, as I write this post, I have on a sweater that Grandma knit for me. It is warm, bulky and one of my favorite things. Tomorrow I cast on for my first sweater, a long planned event that now has even more meaning for me.
Try to see past the Stovepipe hat that Grandma is wearing as she channels her inner Abe Lincoln. See the coat that she is wearing. She knit that. That picture was taken in 1966 and I can tell you that she was still wearing that same coat as of Christmas 2009. How do I know? Well, I know because I now have that very same coat. It is beautiful and warm and I will be wearing it once it is cleaned.
Grandma sewed my wedding dress for me. How cool is that! It fit perfectly. I was much younger then.
Grandma loved words and books. She was an English teacher after all and her sister, Margaret, was an author. She always had a book for me or a story. She may have thought of her sister as the official story teller but Grandma could tell a pretty good story herself.
I was blessed to be able to see Grandma one last time, about a month ago. She was diminished in body but still knew who I was and we had a wonderful talk. I am so glad that that is the last memory that I have of her.
Grandma I will miss you more than words can say. But I know that this parting is only temporary. That when the Lord calls me home, whenever that may be, that you will be there waiting for me with open arms. And if there is knitting in heaven, and how can there not be, that you will have something wonderful on the needles.
I love you Grandma.