The funeral is over…. There is nothing else I can ever do for Grandma…. She is gone…. Her body has been laid to rest. My heart is broken….. My grandpa’s heart may forever be broken.
I asked my grandpa to share his love story with me and this is what he shared:
Grandpa’s Love Story
“Phyllis and I met in 10th grade at Roosevelt High School. She jumped out as me as a very petite, pretty girl. I enlisted in the navy in the 11th grade of high school. When I came home on boot camp leave, I went into my homeroom class at Roosevelt and saw Phyllis. I asked if she’d write to me and she agreed, and we both did. It got serious in our letters and when I came home on boot camp leave and I saw her… I think we went on our first date. We went to the Falls Theater and to the Dairy Queen and had dessert. I went back to sea. We kept writing serious letters. At one point the ship went to shore and I went to a jewelry shop and bought her an engagement ring. I sent it to her folks and her folks signed for it in the mail. When she got home that day, they asked her if she was serious about me. When she said yes, her dad opened the box and told her that “you and Henry are now engaged”. Things got serious in the mail. I wrote in the mail and asked her if she’d marry me. Plans were set for April 21, 1945, when my ship came back to the states. I went on leave and saw Phyllis and her folks and decided that a wedding would take place at St. Helena’s Church on April 21, 1945. Rog McInerny, a grade school friend of mine, was the best man; my sister, Patsy, and Phyllis’s sister, Cathy, were the maids of honor. Phyllis’s father walked her down the aisle for the wedding. After the ceremony, Rog McInerny drove Phyllis and I around in his dad’s car with a large “Just Married” sign on the back of it. Our first wedding nights and days were spent at Phyllis’s folks’ house, then my parents’ house, then we took a train to the coast where my ship was. We got the name of house where we could stay for nothing and we had a bedroom with kitchen privileges for free. When my ship was leaving, Phyllis boarded a train and stayed with her folks’ at their house. In the appropriate period of time, she let me know she had our first baby, Little Diane. It was quite a while before I got out of the navy. I was discharged for hearing loss. I came back to the cities. We stayed at my folks’ house for a while with Diane. Then we rented an apartment about 5 blocks from her folks’ house, then we bought our first house. As time went on, I was learning different trades and doing different jobs and we bought another house. We must have bought at least 4 houses before we bought her parents’ home. Life went on…. The best we could do is have three more daughters.
Shortly after I got out of the navy I had to get major lung surgery – I think they thought I was leaving, but I didn’t.
As our children grew, I kept working different jobs. At one time I was working in Fairmont as a plumber and sheet metal installer. Then I ended up at Scheneel Rug Company making rugs. My one brother, Gordy, convinced me to open a garage. Then a friend told me it would be a hell of a lot better job to work at the Post Office, so I was a clerk and a letter carrier. While I was doing that, I was going to night college to get some decent education and got promoted to a carrier foreman and then the manager of safety for the Postal Service. I retired from that position when I was 59 or 60 years old. After I retired, we lived it up riding motorcycles. We were motorcycle enthusiasts. We just enjoyed ourselves.
I think we had a wonderful life.
Phyllis was an extremely good Christian and I think she made me a better person.
At the point that she was determined to get Alzheimer’s, and was really bad….she fell down our stairs – broke her arm and fractured her skull. She was at a nursing home until we both went to the Lighthouse. The VA determined that I needed nursing help. We were in the same apartment for the longest time until she needed so much care that it bothered me, so they moved me so I would have to walk to visit her. We saw each other on a regular basis. Then early one evening, they called me to rush to the nurses office. Phyllis was in bad shape and having difficulty breathing. They took Grandma to the hospital. I called Karen and she called all of the kids. She took me there and we were all around her and Phyllis passed away. When we were all around her, and I was holding her hand, and we were saying the Lord’s Prayer, the nurse came in after and said Phyllis had passed away.”
His story was shared this afternoon at Grandma’s funeral. As tears rolled down my cheeks, I was so proud to be there…in that moment….proud to be their granddaughter.
Grandpa listened, as their story was read, with his eyes closed. Perhaps he was remembering days gone by, or perhaps he was praying (even begging) for a miracle. At one point, during the visitation, Grandpa leaned down and whispered to Grandma, “Breathe…breathe…breathe….” It was heartbreaking. Dearest Heavenly Father, I just ask that You touch Grandpa. Please help him to see that there truly has been a miracle through Grandma’s death, because of Jesus Christ. Help him to know that Grandma is with You, and that she is healthy and whole. Please, Lord, give him hope. Thank you! I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
In Him always, Beckie