My mother loved her Grandmother Rosenbalm very much but she still could only look at her father and think that he had abandoned her and her brother.
Andrew went forward with his life and married a women 25 years younger than himself. Lydia bore him 9 children John, Lucille,Alice, Laverne,Babe,Gordon, Tot, Shirley, and Beverly
Andrew tried to offer Josie and Marlyn a home with his family, but his Mother and his daughter never forgave his actions.The years that followed the bear delivery to Brookfield Zoo, my grampa and my mother worked hard at reestablishing their shaky relationship.
Grampa and Lydia would visit our home and there was a stiffness about my mother I had never seen before. She ordinarily had a very charming aloofness about her and we were used to that but a crisp stiffness about her in those days was personally upsetting to me.
My grandfather never lived a life style that my mother thought he should. But he lived a life he enjoyed living. Can one ask for more than that?
Grampa’s abandonment and other transgressions seemed to never leave the conversation when mother spoke of him. But finally, after long talks with my father she made peace with herself and treated Lydia with affection and respect.
Eventually,mother came to know and love the half brothers and sisters. Some better than others. Mother would have the girls come for weekends or over the summer. She assisted the girls by helping the with good manners,education,how to dress and how to conduct themselves
when they were in our home. If they did not appear to care how they conducted themselves, they were simply never invited again.
The problems she had with them that some of them did not seem do the best with what they had---she simply did not have time for anyone that chose to be “shiftless and lazy.”
She was fond of her younger stepbrothers. The boys knew she was a force to be reckoned with but both step brothers and stepsisters loved and respected her.
She was very much a role model to Alice,Laverne, Shirley and Beverly. These girls were ambitious,educated, hardworking. But with Alice she felt a real sisterhood. Even with their age differences they enjoyed each other so much. Her husband Arland was educated, witty and hardworking.
He was described by one of his peers as a teacher’s “teacher.” Alice and Arland their two children, Jerry and Judy were always welcome in our home and were beloved by our family.
When Mother and Dad would visit in Alice and Arland’s home, the brother’s and sister’s would stop by and visit with her or call Alice’s home and talk with her.
It was only now as I write this do I realize what a matriarchal position she held with them. Their own mother Lydia was loved and respected by them but there was something about mother’s position in her father’s life that made them seem to hold her in awe. Her father held her in high esteem and he told her but he also told his second family.
The addition of Mother’s stepbrothers and sisters was a nice discovery for me. Poge and my brother never got to know them so well--Poge joined the regular Army in 1940 and my brother Bob was drafted right out of high school in 1944. Those next years were spent establishing a relationship not only with my mother’s father but also the rest of his family. It provided me with many happy times, the best was having my grampa.
Lydia,my step grandmother died Dec. 9,1956. fibrosis.) My mother and father went to Wisconsin to be with my grampa and I was thankful for that.
As our lives changed and time passed, my mother and I would go up
each year in October and celebrate a birthday with Grampa. It was a time my mother and I looked forward to planning and there were only a few times we missed doing this while my children were young.
As grampa advanced in age. it became apparent he needed some sheparding but he didn’t want live with his children; he wanted to go to the county nursing home. To most people this would have been a” downer” but it was not to him. He loved the outdoors so much. The home sat on a beautiful piece of land and he made the most of his life there. He was very mobile and he took his walking stick and walked the grounds each day.
The first time Bob and I took our children there ; quite unexpectedly we had a chance to spend about 20 minutes talking with the administrator of the home.
We first found grampa in his room reading. We exchanged greetings and grampa suggested we should go to the sunny lobby where there were
plenty of chairs. He was obvious very happy to see us but he kept checking
his watch about every 5 minutes. After about 15 minutes he excused himself and said, “I’ll be right back.”
“But grampa we drove a 140 miles to see you.”
“I know dear,but I’ll be right back.” Bob assured me that may be he needed to go to the bathroom. Oh yes it could be that.
I looked around and thought this is quite pleasant. I saw a man dressed in a suit smiling and walking toward us.
He said,” Are you here to see Andy?”
“Yes”, I explained I was his granddaughter and I proceeded to introduce Jeff and Robin as his great grand children.
“Your grampa is quite a guy. He is truly a pleasure to have here. He does so many fine things that we don’t quite know how to handle him so we just let him go. On good days he has the cooks pack him a lunch and he just sits under a tree or on a bench and eats his lunch. He walks the grounds almost everyday,he told us he was used to being outside. He does other things,too.”,he said.
“What other things?”, I asked.
“He reads go people that can’t see as well as he can. He has fed people
that can’t do a good job and he encourages people all day long by telling them how lucky they are to be here. He has gotten a few people to go for a walk that were never outside this building for anything except going for a
“His roommate was a cantankerous fellow ----his friend here had died and he wouldn’t get out of bed. Guess he thought he would just lie down and die. Andy just kept after him until he finally got him to go for a walk and now he even goes for a walk without Andy. Andy loves to play cards and he shares that skill with others. He is a good man and he fills a need here we didn’t know we had.” He paused and turned to see my grampa coming down the hall.
“Andy ,I was just telling these folks about what a great guy you are.
What are you up to today? You should be out here visiting your family.”
“Well, that’s right Jim but I promised Mrs. Conrad that I would help fasten her bracelet and necklace because her daughter had given it to her and she is going to take her out to dinner. Sorry, Glory Jean.” and he gave me an apologetic look.
Jim patted grampa on the shoulder and said, “They liked hearing what a good fellow you are.” Jim turned toward Jeff and Robin and added “Enjoy your great Grampa.” He waved and walked away.
Grampa spent a few seconds apologizing for not hooking Mrs. Conrad’s bracelet and necklace on sooner. I looked at his own gnarled hands and wondered how he managed to hook a bracelet and a necklace.
“That’s ok grampa. Jim really was telling about the nice things you do here.”
Grampa smiled and nodded and leaned towards the children.
“Jeff, I hear you have taken piano lessons,do you like to practice? “
Jeff smiled and answered a quiet Yes.
“Robin you have red hair just like Billie’s. “She smiled but didn’t say a word. Both children were quiet as my grampa chatted away.
We talked about a lot of things.Talking about Billie and her not liking to camp. How he had lived outside all his life and how he had loved it. How happy he was the Jeff and Robin loved camping etc. So it would go when we would visit grampa, he would be eking out some bits of information and we would share things that about what we was going on in our lives.Things he could carry with him as he trekked around the home grounds.
He particularly loved these two facts: Jeff played the piano.(just like Billie.) Robin had red hair.(just like Billie)
The love for his once estranged daughter always needed to punctuate our conversations. It was so important we knew he held her in high esteem for the things she had accomplished essentially without a father in her life.