Remembering My Grandma – Ann Retting – Today September 12, 1924 – October 19, 2008
She avoided the spotlight and often had a rag in her hand
My grandma passed away this morning. I will miss her. All my aunts, uncles, cousins and extended family will miss her as well. And there are a lot of them! For my Grandma was fruitful – she had seven children. My Mom is the oldest of the bunch, next to her is Sue, then Jim, Pat, Bob, Mike and finally Victor (who happens to be my uncle who is younger than me). Each of her children have had two to four more kids, which means I have a whole lot of cousins. And my cousins are parents as well, so the family has been fruitful and has been multiplying.
Being from a military family (my Dad joined the Navy to avoid being drafted into the Army) we moved around a lot. Sometimes when my Dad would take longer trips, my Mom packed my two brothers and I up in the car and we went to Grandma’s. Being at Grandma’s always felt like home. Grandma and Grandpa lived out in the country. They lived in Wauseon, Ohio which is right on the Henry/Fulton County Line.
Living out the in country during my Dad’s long trips as well as many summers, allowed me to stay close to my Grandma and my extended family. I spent most of the day outside doing something adventurous. I rode my first go-cart at Grandma’s. I first learned to ride a horse at my Grandma’s, or I should say that the horse schooled me. I remember totally losing control of the horse and being taken for the ride of my life, where I ducked branches so as to not lose my head. The horse would surprise me so often that I could hear my heart throbbing harder and harder. The first and only time I had been bucked off a bareback pony was at my Grandma’s house. I guess when you get thrown to the ground and kicked in the head the memory gets stamped in your brain somehow.
As the sun started to set and my stomach started to growl, I knew it was time to head into the house. Grandma was always hard at work making us dinner. When she heard us in the garage getting ready to come into the house she would say, “Make sure you take your shoes off in the breezeway.” She always kept the house spick-and-span. Grandma was a great example in my life of a person who served others. For her work she would do laundry at the Retirement home as well as clean people’s houses. She lived a simple life. She loved her family and we all loved her.
Growing up around many family members meant getting into a lot of wrestling matches. But at Grandma’s house, there were certain things you were supposed to do outside, and not inside. If you did the outside things inside you could count on my Grandma chiming in with her advice. “Quit you’re wr[as]tling, in the house” she would yell. Most of the time, her voice would cause us to stop, because we all respected my Grandma.
Whenever we get together as a family during Thanksgiving or Christmas, we always play cards, like Euchre or Spades. Playing cards with my Grandma was always fun. As she got older, even though she kept her strength, her arms would sag a bit and I would have fun playing with and holding up her sagging arms. After a while she would say, “Oh, quit it!” But her non-verbal’s told me she didn’t really mind.
My Grandma was a hard worker. She made many things with her hands. I can remember the first stuffed animal she made for me. It was a sock monkey with huge red lips. It looked strangely like the monkey’s she made for her other grandchildren. It was my favorite stuffed animal to sleep with when I was young. I eventually had to give it a burial because it was falling apart. The quilt that she made for me years ago still covers me today when the chilly wind blows through the windows of my apartment. I use the quilt so much it is kind of falling apart.
For the last few months, my Grandma has been in and out of the hospital. My Mom, her brothers and sisters, my cousins and others have been helping to take care of her. When I talked to her on the phone last, I let her know how much I loved her. She thanked me for the flowers that I sent her. My Grandma has served and loved the family year after year and day after day, so much so, that her body is kind of falling apart. Now, we have to bury her.
I am planning on flying to Ohio tomorrow. I have been asked to conduct the funeral with my nephew. And though we will be burying my Grandma, our memories of her and her life live on. Some of her words still echo in my head. Her simple life, her devotion to her family and her servant-oriented life will continue to inspire me. As you can see from one of my favorite pictures of her, she avoided the spotlight, and she often had a rag in her hand.