I lost one of my favorite people in the world this August and since I had to wax nostalgic digging through my giant box o’snapshots last night for pictures to display at the memorial service this Saturday, I decided that today’s Ten Things Tuesday should be all about this very special person, my Grandma Steinke. I always knew I was lucky, I grew up with both sets of grandparents living in the same town, really only a few blocks apart, and they were a part of my life well into my teen years and beyond. Grandpa W. died just before my senior year of high school, Grandpa S and Grandma W both passed away during second semester of my junior year of college (this was when I stopped going home. Every time I did so on Friday, someone died on Monday. It wasn’t good) and now Grandma Steinke. I am so incredibly blessed to have had her here for my first 37+ years and I will miss her dearly. So here, from my big box o’ snapshots, are some of my favorite pictures of Grandma.
I think this one is Grandma & Grandpa’s wedding photo. If not theirs, obviously someone else’s wedding that they were a part of. On one hand, its a strange picture for me, obviously I never saw them this young,and yet it seems the most natural thing in the world. My grandparents were a great example of a long, loving marriage and I love that I have this picture to hang next to my own to remind me of the lessons they taught me.
Another picture that seems strange to me. This one’s Grandma and my dad, her youngest child. Hard to wrap your head around your parents as small children or your grandparents as new parents, isn’t it?
This one cracks me up for oh so many reasons I don’t even know how to pick just one. Is it the shorts my dad is wearing? Grandma with what looks to be a vodka bottle in mid-pour into my aunt’s glass? My uncle with another bottle in his hand (in case the first runs out?)? That sport coat? The dresses? Oh yes… This one is just all around spectacular!
And while we’re on the subject of adult beverages, I honest to God laughed out loud when I found this one. A good old-fashioned belly laugh. Long and sustained. Grandma was famous for licking out all manner of dishes- this one happened to be one of those oh-so-70s ice cream drinks, but dessert dishes were also licked clean. The only thing that may, perhaps, have topped this was her brother’s insistence on ordering dessert first. I know we all joke about this but he actually did it. Didn’t want to spoil his appetite before he got to the good stuff. I think next time hubby & I go out to dinner I’m going to take a lesson from these two wise folks, order dessert first, lick the plate clean and not worry about who’s watching or what they think of it.
This is just the sort of thing I always remember about my grandparents. As I said, I was very lucky to have them living so close by, I was even smart enough to recognize this at an early age. So I have many great memories of birthdays spent with Grandma & Grandpa. Mom’s “policy” was that we could have a friends birthday party every other year from Kindergarten to 5th grade, but every year we had a birthday dinner with the grandparents and we got to choose the menu for that dinner. And of course there were pictures. This is me, my
dork big brother and Grandma & Grandpa sitting on the couch that Mom & Dad got as a wedding gift and I moved into my first two places out of college with. Actually, I think the horrible afghan even made it’s way to my house when my folks sold theirs. Another 70s treasure, random squares of wool stitched together with a fancy schmancy embroidery stitch. Its a gem!
Speaking of birthdays, Grandma’s was March 17th so I will always and forever think of her on St. Patrick’s Day. Of course this means her birthday was themed whether she liked it or not. My grandpa always gave her a shamrock plant for her birthday. For a few years after he died, I tried to carry on the tradition. Might need to find myself one next St. Paddy’s day as a reminder of Grandma.
This one I’m including just for the 1980s spectacle that it is. Must have been my cousin convinced Grandma to let Christi dress her in the latest trend in fashion- stirrup pants & an over-sized fugly sweater. Grandma was a good sport about it. Probably helped that she got to wear red. She always looked great in red! But do you think I could win any contests with the sweaters?
Check out my shiny shirt! I have no idea what I was thinking. Clearly my judgement was clouded by hormones or something. But, as with most pictures of my formative years, at least my brother looks dopier than I do! That has to say something, right? More to the point, this is a picture of some of the most important people in my life- Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa & my Great Aunt Loiuse (grandpa’s sister). Oh. And my brother. I guess I’ll throw him in, too. My family story doesn’t involve a whole lot of dysfunction, I grew up with a strong core family and they are still there for me today. I am lucky. And I know it.
This picture caught me off guard. I’m pretty sure it was the last one taken of Grandpa before he died. That was a tough one for me. I spent first semester of my junior year of college as an exchange student in Tokyo and only learned after the fact that Grandma & Grandpa weren’t particularly happy about this. It was a requirement for my major and they’d never have said anything to stand in the way of me living my life anyway, but it was a surprise to learn they just weren’t comfortable with the thought of my being away from home for so long. While I was in Japan, Grandpa moved from their home of 40+ years to the nursing home. I knew he wasn’t doing as well when I was gone as he’d been before I left but Mom and Dad chose to insulate me from just how far downhill he’d gone. I saw him once after I got home, we went straight from the airport to the nursing home and I felt like I got punched in the gut when I saw him. He was no longer speaking but I did make him laugh. He passed away just 3 days later. Now I’m glad to have found the picture but it still chokes me up to see it.
Happier times. Happier times… This is me and Grandma on Mother’s Day, 1996. As you may have guessed from my fancy hat & stylish dress, it was the day I graduated college. Again, I am so glad that my Grandma was there to share the day with me.
I think that was officially ten, but since Grandma is bigger than life in this grandkid’s memory, I’m not done yet. So this time I’ll offer a bonus “thing” for Ten Things Tuesday- Grandma & Bradley. Bradley’s my brother’s amazingly brilliant & adorable son (nope, no auntie bias there). He was all of 6 weeks old when they flew from California to Wisconsin to introduce us to this wonderful little man. Grandma was, I think, 92 when this was taken. She was so excited to meet her youngest great grandson! Of all the family photos we had taken that day, I think I like this random snapshot best of all. It captures everything I love about my grandma in one brief moment and keeps it right there for me forever…
And now, since I’m crying again and I need to make it stop, one last offering. Not of Grandma… Nope, this one’s just for laughs. Next time I find a “Cheesiest Sibling Picture EVER” contest, I’m entering this bad boy… Yes. It was the 70s. And my mother dressed me funny. Thank GOD she was more cruel to my brother. But seriously. What was the Dennis thinking when he posed this one?
Photo by Dennis Schwarts of Schwarts Photography, Plymouth WI Circa 1976-77