Monday, January 21, 2013

Grandma Ethel

My grandma Ethel is my maternal grandmother.  She was born July 5, 1916 in Marsh Center, Idaho.  Her parents moved to Ogden, Utah when she was young. Ethel married Edgar Carl Maxwell, November 20, 1934. My mom was their first baby and weighed ten pounds at birth.

Grandma Ethel had a baby girl that died after my mom, then came one more daughter, and two sons.  My mom told me once that she remembered when one of her brothers was born.  He was delivered at their home, and she never heard her mother scream.  After their fourth son was born, Ethel, and Edgar divorced.

My grandmother met a widower with ten children, his name was John VanDeGraff.  They married June 6, 1945.  They lived on a small farm in the middle of Ogden, Utah.  My mom had fond memories living on the farm and said Pop VanDeGraff treated her like she was one of his own.  He died in December of 1956.

              Pop VanDeGraff, Grandma Ethel, best man, dad and mom, Aunt Lois, Step sister

 After grandma's children were grown she went to Weber State College and got her nursing degree. She graduated first in her class.

I have early memories of her working at the Dee Hospital. My hubby GW was born in this very same hospital. When the hospital was torn down she moved to the new Mckay-Dee Hospital, and worked in the Emergency Room.

Growing up grandma would supply my brothers and I with big used plastic shots that we could fill up with water.  When we got a new skate board she would remind us of how many kids were coming into the ER because of accidents.  

One day my mom dropped me off at the Mckay-Dee Hospital so grandma could drive me to her house for a sleep over.  While I was waiting, I remember a women having difficulty walking slowly through the hospital doors with her huge stomach. It was so big and loose the women tried to hold her stomach in her arms.  Even at my young age I knew she was ready to have a baby. The woman was trying hard not to deliver her baby in the foyer. The next thing I noticed was her husband walking over to one of the elevators and pressing a number.  His wife stayed calm until the elevator doors opened and in they went. I learned that day if you sit long enough in the ER foyer you will notice many interesting situations.

I also have fond memories of Christmas at grandma Ethel's house.  Most of my cousins would be there at the end of the day.  We continue that tradition every year but now we go to my Aunt Linda and Uncle Leslie's house.
  Mom and her siblings. Aunt Lois, Uncle Les and Uncle Gene

 We didn't have much money growing up so my grandma kind of spoiled us when it came time for school clothes and a coat.  She made the best turkey sandwiches, they were very simple.  She would toast the bread, spread some butter, and then slice some turkey.  I don't know why it tasted so good.  It must have been the love that was put into making the sandwich.

A real treat was going to Dee's Hamburger joint.  My parents rarely went out to eat so Grandma would take us to Dee's!  When we ordered our food the choice was a shake, and hamburger, or fries, hamburger, and soda drink. For a child that can be very difficult when you really wished you could have it all.

Viewmont High School Graduation 1977

                          Grandma Ethel, me, two of my brothers, and Grandpa John Oosteyn.  Grandpa Oosteyn was my grandma's third husband. They were married 1958, a year before I was born.  Grandpa Oosteyn had a fun dog named Moe Shrabs.  My brothers and I enjoyed playing with this dog in his big kennel out in the back yard. I'm sure it wasn't very clean but we didn't care.

I performed with the Utah Opera Company and sang in the choir around 1979.  It was a very serious Opera called, "Otello".  My grandparents drove to Salt Lake City to watch my twenty minutes of fame on the Capitol Theatre stage. It was a long opera and I'm pretty sure it wasn't their style of music, but it meant a lot that they would support me.

I know my grandma loved me and all her grandchildren. I would like to think I was her favorite since she made me feel that way when I spent alone time with her.  I used to enjoy going to her house with my cousin Carla who my grandma helped raise.

When my cousin Carla was twenty, her body was found dead at her job, working a night shift at a 7-Eleven store off of I-15 near Layton, Utah. The person who shot my cousin never was found. I remember how sad my grandma was at her funeral.  She died nine months after my cousin's death on January 9, 1987 from heart failure.  My cousin and grandma are both buried side by side at the North Ogden Cemetery.

My grandma Ethel was a very giving person. I look forward to meeting her and my cousin after this life.  Some of the things that I admired about her was that she was a good listener, she loved hearing stories about her grandchildren, and she was a hard worker.
I felt a lot of love from this wonderful woman.  Thank you for your example Grandma, I miss you.