Friday, April 20, 2018


They were LaVerne and Shirley.
Really, my grandmothers' names were LaVerne and Shirley.
Shirley was outgoing and creative, and we lost her too soon.
It broke my 12-year-old heart.
LaVerne, we got to keep much longer, thankfully.
But she slipped away peacefully on March 18th, at age 88.

Grandma LaVerne grew up in Minneapolis,
the daughter of a doctor and his wife.
It seems like she had a lovely childhood.
Her sister was born on her 5th birthday,
and her brother arrived when she was already a teenager.
She met my Grandpa Don in high school at Minnehaha Academy,
And they were married for nearly 69 years.

I loved seeing so many younger photos of her at her memorial service two weeks ago.

This photo was taken when my Grandma went to Sweden with her parents,
to visit her father's parents
at their farm on the island of Gotland.
She went to Sweden, speaking only English,
and she came home, speaking only Swedish. :)

Grandma on the left with her sister Charlotte and brother Bob.

The sweetest wedding photos of Grandma & Grandpa in 1949.


My grandpa wanted to be a pastor,
and later a seminary professor.
They spent quite a few years moving around for his degrees:
a BA and BDiv from Bethel in Minneapolis,
a Master's in Theology from Fuller in Pasadena, California,
and a doctorate in Biblical languages from Brandeis in Massachusetts. 
 Grandma liked to say, she got her PHT degree (Putting Hubby Through).

Along the way, 
Grandma had five boys and a girl.
Dan, Karen, Paul, Bruce, Brian & John,
the last two boys born only 12 months apart.

At 32, she had six babies.
As I'm nearing that age, that puts it all into perspective!

My dad (Bruce) in the front.

Grandma was an amazing pianist and organist.
She used that talent,
plus her hospitality,
at all of the churches they served.

Minnesota, Nebraska, California, Massachusetts, South Dakota, Illinois, Wisconsin.
So many places that they called home in their 69 years together,
while they followed God's calling.

Grandpa said to me last week,
"She worked hard,
and she didn't complain."

As to all of their adventures, he said,
"It was what I wanted,
and it was what she wanted, too."

Grandma had a huge affection for dogs.
They always had a dog in their house.

This is me, meeting them for the first time.
Except for a couple of years on opposite ends of Chicago,
we unfortunately never lived very close.

I love this photo of my grandparents,
my cousin Lindsay,
my sister Hannah, 
 and Misty the collie, of course.

We clung to our mutual faith after losing my dad in 1991,
and Hannah in 2001.

When Steve and I got married,
Grandma and Grandpa drove from Minnesota to Pennsylvania,
their last big road trip.
We celebrated their 60 years of marriage,
and toasted to our new one.

Living 1,000 miles away for eight years didn't make visits easy,
especially with our three new babies.
Nolan met G&G at Thanksgiving in 2012.

And Ephraim met them in July of 2015.

Here, Grandma had broken her leg, and spent her entire summer in rehab.
She was wheelchair bound from then on.

We were happy to visit again in August 2016.
Once a year was not enough!

And the last time I saw Grandma was this past Thanksgiving.
I'm so grateful that we got this photo!
I wish I had snapped one while she was holding August.

Things I will remember:

Grandma's positivity.
Her inquisitiveness. She asked a lot of questions!
Her soft and smooth hands,
that I see whenever I look at my own.
Her extremely tight hugs.
Her laughs with her nose crinkled 
and her shoulders shaking.
Black-eyed susans.
Their house in Door County,
where I learned to enjoy the water
and ride a bike.
Black coffee in Swedish mugs.
Chocolate "K" bars and oatmeal bread,
peanut brittle and cherry cheesecake.
A fridge full of magnets from all of their travels. 
Her white shoes and sheer stockings under her pants.
Her lengthy, wonderful Christmas card letters.
The loud way she could whistle,
and her words, "Is that right?!"      
The symbol of the treble clef,
and her amazing piano talent.

Thank you for 30 wonderful years, Grandma.
Until we meet again in glory...

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