Saturday, January 31, 2015

granny's eulogy, part III...

         It is at this point that I am going to diverge from the genealogical facts of my grandmother’s life and to really try to share with you the heart of who she really was, as well as share a few of our favorite stories of her along the way.
My Granny, Norma, she loved deeply and with a rare loyalty.  She loved her husband, David, first and foremost.  In the middle of raising a family, caring for her home and garden, traveling extensively and fulfilling her church callings, Granny always looked to my Grampa David, always checked in with him in the midst of a busy life, always holding his hand, always looking over to him with a smile on her face.  And even after seventy years of marriage and a life of blessings and burdens shared throughout, he was still her best friend, her companion and her comforter.  In fact, while I was preparing this eulogy, it became apparent that it is hard to find many stories or memories of Norma that do not include David as well.  They were and are and forever will be  - a team, the best of friends and eternal companions.  
And Granny loved her daughters just as deeply, instilling in them her love of life, her deep attachments to family and her dutiful service to those around her.  As her mother taught her, Granny taught her girls to cook and sew as well.  And while Cathy, my mom, remembers sewing most of her clothes in high school, what she really remembers is that her mother made everything for the girls, from their underwear to their winter coats.  My mom remembers not having store bought clothes ever - until she was sixteen.  And if you were to go into their home back then and slip into the sewing room, you would have seen two sewing machines set side by side, Cathy’s and Granny’s.  Her legacy to all of us is not only the service she rendered in this life, but the lessons she taught us as well. 
With equal devotion, Granny turned her attention towards her growing family and helped to raise her three grandsons and eventually her seven great grandchildren.  She fed, diapered, hugged, kissed, spoiled and loved her growing family with a fierce and quiet loyalty.  She was never too tired to get on the ground and play blocks, or to hold onto chubby little fingers as toddler legs careened wildly across her backyard.  
She would read storybooks for hours or hold a small baby by the warmth of the fire while they napped.  If she went missing at any time, one was sure to find her sitting across from a grandbaby or great grandbaby, lost in a world of imagination, giving herself over freely to whatever game was conjured up for her to play a part in.  My brothers and I share countless memories of swinging in her back yard, playing tetherball and riding bikes with her.  She was always ready to join in the fun, to do whatever we wanted to do, to support us in any way we needed. 
She was also known for turning a blind eye when it came to us boys, letting us get away with all sorts of things, and generally spoiling us.  We always loved how she would cook our favorite food on Sunday afternoons after church, how she would let us slip away from the table without a word to go nap - well, actually this was mostly Cody’s game.  At some point during the meal, when he was finally full of mashed potatoes and cheese sauce, he would sort of slither to the floor and climb out from under the table onto the living room side and escape to his favorite recliner for a nap.  He did this up until he was 18.  Granny would just chuckle.  (I have to pause and say that I don’t blame Cody for wanting to curl up and fall asleep, most of us did - especially since Granny kept her house at a cozy 84 degrees with a fire raging in the winter...and even then, sitting two feet from the woodstove with her sweaters piled on - she was still cold)  
 So, Granny loved all our quirks - from her daughters’ to ours’.  And she loved to include us in everything.  Every Christmas she would invite us over to decorate her house and put up her tree and every year she threatened that this was the last year she was going to do it, but the tradition continued on.  

Friday, January 30, 2015

granny's eulogy, part II...

           At this time my Grampa was working at the radio station in LaGrande, KLBM; The Voice of the Blue Mountains when he was introduced to Granny by their mutual friend Alameda.  Grampa likes to say that she fell in love with his voice on the radio.  Whenever I would ask Granny about this time in her life, her eyes would sparkle but she would never give me any details - being as private as we all know she was.  But my Grampa remembers that since he didn’t have a car, he would ride his bike over to her family’s house on Fir and Jackson and that they shared many meals.
My Grampa also remembers a brief time in their courtship when they were separated for a bit while he was working in Oregon City for a newspaper there and by this time he had bought a 35’ Ford which he used to travel back and forth to LaGrande on the weekends.  One weekend a friend approached him and said, “you know, Norma’s stepping out on you” and proceeded to describe the good looking blond fellow that Granny had been seen around town with.  After approaching Granny with this information, my Grampa was quick to realize this good looking blond fellow turned out to be Stanley, her brother freshly home from the Navy.  So, short of this humorous misunderstanding - falling in love came easily to these two and in November of 1944 they were married at the Goold home in LaGrande.
 After they were married, my Granny and Grandpa lived in Oregon City for a year where they both worked and when the GI bill came along they discussed the possibility of more schooling and finally decided that they would go back to LaGrande and pursue college for a teaching credential.  So, in the summer of 1945, they moved back and settled on T street, just around the corner from where Granny’s parents lived.  From everything I’ve heard, Granny and Grampa were as much of a magnet for rambunctious kids as they always were...with many of Granny’s younger siblings and friends always coming over to play and hang out.  Grampa remembers how her youngest brother, Phil and his friend Keith Cornwell (the brother of Grampa’s future brother-in-law, Dale) would tear through their little house like a “dose of salts”...in and out, hiding from eachother and chasing eachother - as fast as they came, they were gone again.  
After Grampa had gotten his Bachelors degree at Eastern Oregon College, a professor at the college helped him to get a fellowship and they moved to Indiana, where they would be from the Fall of 47 to the Summer of 49.  To get by on their small fellowship stipend, they bought a little travel trailer and parked it in the University trailer park for students.  There was no bathroom or shower in the trailer, but a communal one nearby that everyone shared.  Mind you, this is Bloomington, Indiana...it got cold.  And add to that, Granny was pregnant with their first child, Linda during this time and she was born in Bloomington in 1948.  Grampa built Linda a little portable crib that sat on top of the dresser in the bedroom - which was on one end of the trailer - the trailer being 25 feet long and 8 feet wide.  Grampa remembers that through it all, she never complained.  They would talk everything over and agreed on everything they did.  They were a team and they figured that whatever they did, it was going to result in something better.  And that is what kept them moving forward, through all the difficult times. 
It was around this time, as they were traveling back from Indiana after graduation, that a difficult trial arose.  Caravanning home with Granny’s parents, Leo and Genevieve and her older Sister and brother-in-law, Virginia and Harold,  Granny and Grampa were driving in their 41’ Studebaker coupe with a little baby bed hooked over the seat.  By the time they were passing through Colorado it was apparent that something was very wrong with Linda, who was around nine months old at this time.  In Provo, Granny and Grampa left the rest of their family behind as they raced on to Nampa during the night to get home and get Linda to the hospital.  She was diagnosed with a telescopic bowel and underwent two surgeries to correct the life threatening condition.  Staying with Virginia and Harold for over a month and relying on David’s older sisters who lived in the same area at the time.  In fact it was Flossie,  Grampa’s oldest sister who intervened at the hospitaI when it became apparent the first surgery was not a success.  In fact, Grampa said she read the whole staff the riot act!  But she got the job done, the second surgery was performed and through it all, Granny never left her baby’s side.  This scenario would play out years later when Linda was sick again as an adult and spent a long time in the hospital.  She remembers the days and nights when her mother would sit by her bed and hold her hand...which made all the difference in the world.  Granny’s life of selfless giving for her young and growing family had just begun.  This selflessness and utter devotion would become one of the defining features of her personality and her life. 
After this, Granny and Grandpa settled in the central valley, working first in Corcoran and finally settling in Tulare, where Cathy was born in 1954.  They settled in a little house across the street from a cow pasture at the edge of town and never moved.  Though, the city limits did and their little country house is now in the middle of a bustling neighborhood.  This was the beginning of yet another chapter in their life.  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

granny's eulogy, part I...

          My husband, Nick, was asked to give his grandmother's eulogy at her service this past Wednesday.  Being a writer, I am frequently asked to gather the memories and write obituaries and eulogies within my own sphere of friends and family.  It is a privilege to perform this service and was especially touching to work on Granny's life story.  I know it was hard for Nick to do this, but I am so proud of him for working through his pain and beautifully orating these stories. 
         No matter how difficult these last few years were for her body/spirit, Granny lived a long life.  She will be relevant for generations to come.  She will be loved, missed and never forgotten.  I hope as I post the eulogy in it's entirety over the next few days, you will come to realize what an amazing woman she was.  
        Norma Goold Eshelman was born into Leo and Genevieve Goold’s family on September 21st, 1922.  I need to interject for a moment and let you know that Norma was always Granny to me and to many other people...so from here on out I will refer to her as that.  Their fourth child, Granny would eventually be one of four girls born into a family of eleven children.  While she remembered her father mostly as a farmer, he worked in various fields over the years; from farming to barbering to mining and finally railroad work.  And Genevieve spent all those years at home with the children, passing along so many of her homemaking skills, from sewing to cooking.  Having spent many evenings eating dinner with her family while they were courting, my Grampa remembers that she was an impeccable cook...and obviously the apple didn’t fall far from the tree with Granny being known for her wonderful food as well. 
 Granny remembered moving a lot in her childhood, from farm to farm, always into a good size home for her large family.  She was blessed in many ways to have been raised in a simpler time.  A favorite story that was often told about her childhood was about how Norma and her sister Virginia as well as her brothers Forrest and Jay would ride a pair of horses to school, which had a stable to keep them during the day.  The boys would be paired up on one horse, the girls on the other...and with the boys always insisting that the girls carry their lunches.  It is remarkable to think of all the changes she witnessed in her life after those days of trotting down the road to get to school.  A few years ago, Granny told me once she couldn’t imagine a life without all the technology we all depend on today and how it blessed her life in so many ways - from being able to communicate with her family frequently, especially her beloved brothers and sisters...to being able to talk to great grandbabies via skype...hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles away.  And yet, picturing this in my mind, my grandmother riding to school on horseback with her siblings all around her - I can only imagine a simpler life can be done and done well.  
 Being one of the older siblings, my Granny worked hard to help her family and when she was 18, she attended beauty college in Nampa, Idaho and graduated with a beautician’s certificate.  Around this time her dad, Leo, got a job in a gold mine in Wallace, Idaho and was able to secure a beautician’s job for her.  It was around 1940 when they both went up to work in Wallace and set up the household before the rest of the family joined them.  
I want to take a moment and backtrack a bit to share a story that is not so much about my grandmother, but one she loved to tell and hear with a twinkle and a chuckle...Granny adored her brothers - every impish, rascally, boyish thing they did.  And this is one of her of her favorite stories.  So, somewhere during these years, her dad Leo worked a stint down in a mine in Winnemucca, NV.  The family was still in Nampa and one day, her younger brothers Monnie and Stanley got bored and without informing their mother, got on their bike (notice I didn’t say bikes, but bike - as in the singular).  So they got on their bike and managed to make it down to Winnemucca - and this is where I need to tell you that they were ten and twelve years old.  Well, apparently once they were there and got a lay of the land, they got bored ( Winnemucca will do that to you) and just like that - they decided to head home - and hitckhiked all the way back to Nampa.   
 So, getting back on track, Granny worked in a shop in Wallace before moving to LaGrande with her family at the beginning of World War II.  Norma hired on at Reynaud’s (like Reno) in the Foley Hotel in LaGrande as a beautician and her dad went to work on the railroad.  Norma helped her family out as much as she could.  It was during her sojourn in LaGrande that she met David Eshelman and a new chapter in her life was about to begin.  

Monday, January 19, 2015

finally at peace...


early this morning, granny eshelman was able to return to her maker.

i picture her joyfully met by those that have gone before her.
i picture her at peace.  

i picture her like this. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

cooking class with a side of service...




about a month ago, i decided that i wanted to hold a cooking class with a spin -
i wanted the kids to all get together and to cook something that we would donate or gift.
and then i was sick from thanksgiving to the new year and i really put my idea on the back burner.

and then the clouds cleared, i started feeling better and an opportunity to serve came up.  
all of our little group showed up this week with good attitudes and learning hearts -
i love them all!

we made ten dozen rolls (click HERE for the recipe) for a funeral service the next day,
as well as a double batch of my granny's biscuits so the kids could have something to snack on.
making the rolls was our best ever recipe we've made as a group -
the kids loved kneading, rolling out, cutting and forming the rolls.  
it was pure joy in my kitchen that day.  

and the biscuits, 
well it is always a treat to teach people my granny's recipe and techniques.  
and i got to show everyone how to eat them buttered with honey or boysenberry jam.  
and then i told some stories.  family memories are the best.  

food is so important. 
some of our greatest conversations take place over a good meal.  
we bond, share, fight, makeup, laugh, cry...over a good meal.  
some of my greatest life moments have happened over a good meal.  
i love being able to share my heritage with these kids,
and hear about their heritage and their recipes, their stories and memories.  

and bonus, we were able to do a good thing for others.
life is good.  
kids are good.  
food is good.  

do you have a favorite heritage recipe?  from your auntie?  gramma? mother?  father?  
does your family gather around the table?  is food important to your gatherings?
let me know.  

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

rubber bands everywhere...


last christmas was pretty loom-a-rific.
and then the looms grew boring or something because they disappeared.
and then a few weeks ago, they were discovered anew.
the timing could not have been more perfect, considering we've been sick and housebound.

and she can look ANYTHING.
headbands, sandals, banners...and she is currently working on a glove.  
this girl has some made aunt polly skills when it comes to reading/watching instructions -
and just being able to figure it out.  
my brain does not work that way.  

too bad every square inch of my house is covered in rubber bands.
and bracelets, so many bracelets.  
this too shall pass.
(but hopefully not anytime soon!) 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

cool hand luke...


this character has shown up a few times this week.  
he has a badge now.
it's a whole bunch of awesomeness.  
love this kid. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

olive oil and ear infections...


so charlie inherited my troublesome ear drums,
and this latest cold led to yet another ear infection.  
after a middle-of-the-night-screaming-run-to-the-emergency-room incident last month,
nick and i decided to come up with some alternatives to doctors and antibiotics.
and thus we stumbled upon the age old home remedy of olive oil.

so, here is how it works - 
for traditional inner ear pain, it is suggested to put 2-4 drops in for immediate relief.
(charlie was able to fall asleep and sleep all night within five minutes of her drops)
do this up to four times a day until the pain subsides.
if the pain continues and pressure builds, that is when you go to the doctor.  
this is such a great option, especially since it allows us to help charlie with her pain,
while we wait and see if the infection will subside on its own...
and thus avoid an unnecessary rounds of antibiotics.

all of this being said,
this will not work for people like myself who have blown out eardrums.
the same goes for kids/adults with tubes.  
bummer, but at least i have an option if my good ear ever flares up (it won't). 

alrighty, let me know some of your favorite home remedies -
i LOVE a good home remedy!    
 
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