Thursday, February 11, 2010

Elizabeth Julia Mortenson Amsler 1912-2010

BettyAmsler2 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.image 2010-2-11 0001She 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.image 2009-12-14 0001Even 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.
The new hatimage 22-4-2009 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.
DSCN2999 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.
image 17-5-2008Grandma 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.


  1. Debbie, I am so sorry to hear that you're not going to see your Grandma for awhile. They are special, I know, I was fortunate to also be blessed with a wonderful Grandmother, who I haven't seen in almost 17 years, but one day I will! Isn't it wonderful to have memories and special creations to keep close and most of all a wonderful relationship that can never be taken away from us. Blessings to you and your family as you say good-bye...for a little while.


  2. What a wonderful tribute to your grandma. I miss mine too.

  3. Debbie, I'm so sorry to hear about your beloved Grandma. I can see the twinkle in her eyes! What wonderful memories you have, and such a sweet tribute. Thanks for sharing this dear lady with us! Hugs, Tammy

  4. Gah! I'm a mess! I'm so sorry for your loss Debbie. It seems thought that you have picked up your grandmas ability to tell a story. This was a wonderful tribute and I know she would love it. What amazing memories you have of her!

    Thank you for telling us about your grandma.

  5. Beautiful post. Beautiful photo. Beautiful woman! Thank you for sharing that.

  6. Debbie, A wonderful tribute to your grandmother. I didn't know her, but did know your Grandma Pringle. You have a great heritage for sure. We grandmothers can only hope that we will leave that kind of legacy for our own grandchildren.
    Loved the pictures of you and Rob. That is how I remember you both. Such cute children!!
    Kathy Melton Leonard

  7. Well written cousin. You may have her sweater but I have something even more unique. Have you ever seen my 19 foot scarf that Grandma made for me? I’ll show you someday; maybe then I can sit in that big red leather chair of yours again.
    P.S. Sorry to break your 17-year streak as only grandchildren. My wife and I also broke your 5-greatgrandchildren reign with numbers 6, 7, and 8.

  8. @Jon- the sweater is SO not you. But I think I have seen that Dr. Who scarf, at least a picture of it. Didn't she give that to you at one of our Christmas Gift Exchanges? However, I don't believe I knew the length. Yes, you were the streak breaker. But your kids are so cute that there is no begrudging their breaking of the great grandchildren streak.

  9. Your post reminds me of how much I miss my "grandma", Memom. She is the woman I most want to pattern myself after... a gentle, kind soul full of love.

    I love you, too, Memom!

    My condolences on your loss.

  10. What love ~ thank you for sharing with us Debbie. So sorry to hear she is gone, but can see already how alive she is in your heart.

  11. Wow sounds like you have a really great grandma. My grandma was 92 when she died and if it weren't for her I don't think I would have such a strong devotion to the blessed virgin mary and the rosary . She prayed salvation into our life . She used to pray the rosary devoutly and attend mass every day for all her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren . Nice story and thanks for sharing it with us.


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