Sunday, October 5, 2014

52 Ancestors - #40 Elva Rosalie Tucker - And Now the Rest of the Story

Rosalie had spent her whole life in western Washington State, and now she was getting ready to move to Eastern Oregon.

Just prior to Mitch leaving for John Day, Rosalie and Mitch repainted the truck light green on top and dark green on the bottom. On October 2, 1956, Lionell was in John Day, Oregon looking for a house.  He had taken a job with the US Forest Service working as a radio technician for the Malheur National Forest.  The family was planning on joining him October 27th. Rosalie's brothers Jack and Arnold were driving the moving truck down and Laura was driving her car with Stella and Rosalie.  Arnold and Laura were to join us in the area when they also went to work for the Forest Service.

While in John Day for five years, we lived in three different houses as housing was extremely limited and there was nothing available on Government Hill, the Forest Service compound. The only thing that Mitch could find when we moved to John Day was what we termed “The Cement House” which was all concrete block construction on Highway 395 at 821 S Canyon Blvd.  I can remember Aunt Stella telling me how horrified she was when she saw the house and how bad she felt for her sister. Terry told me he cried himself to sleep the first night. Living there was also our introduction to rattlesnakes and Marc would go into the hills and shoot them and bring home the rattles to terrorize the women folk with.

1957 Aunt Laura and Rosalie on Easter Sunday

From there we moved to “The White House” next to the S&M Motors – a Chevrolet dealership.  “The White House” which was at 142 NE Dayton only had two bedrooms so Marc and Terry slept in a bunk bed and Lisa and I slept in a Twin/Trundle bed.  For Christmas that year, she purchased bride dolls (that had wedding rings) for Lisa and I and made them both complete wardrobes.  Christmas was always a lot of fun.

When we lived in “The White House”, Rosalie learned how to decorate cakes. This was when she made the doll cake she sent to Chris for her 14th birthday on May 19th. Rosalie sent it by way of the US Postal Service from John Day, Oregon to Puyallup, Washington.  She put it in a box with a clear top; the Puyallup postman very carefully walked the cake to Chris’ front door. The doll cake arrived unscathed with only one small piece of frosting disturbed on the back of her doll dress. I remember wanting a cake with pansies on it for my sixth birthday. Rosalie also took sewing classes (she was a talented seamstress) and learned how to make tin ornaments, and she always loved to read.  I can remember her sitting and reading at the kitchen table and Lisa and I asking her to make Fudge.  She would finally say “Maybe” and then we knew we had her and we would run around her shouting “She’s going to make fudge!”

According to Terry (aka Humphrey), Rosalie continued to experiment with casseroles that were a continual source of amusement and dismay.  He remembers one called a “Shipwreck Casserole” – so named because it was made of layers of different ingredients like the decks of a ship.  He remembers Mitch commenting on how the name was appropriate for more reasons than that.  Terry recalls that even though her casseroles sometimes were lacking (at least in her men folk’s eyes) that her split pea soup was to die for as were her baked beans, Hungarian Goulash, Spanish Rice and the venison steaks when we lived in John Day.

Rosalie was always very active in community affairs in John Day. Once she helped decorate a float for the annual parade to go along with the song “Purple People Eater”.  She helped make a “Purple People Eater” mask that Terry then wore and they had a record player playing the song. I still remember being so impressed that she had help create all this but I was more impressed at the time that Terry got to be the “Purple People Eater”. He was less impressed because it rained before the parade was over and he actually wound up purple.

In the spring and summer, we spent most weekends in the Malheur Forest having picnics.  Mitch, Marc, and Terry would target practice getting ready for hunting season in the fall.  Terry gave up the target practicing in the summer once they built the city swimming pool.  Marc also enjoyed the pool and managed to break his nose when he was diving.

During the summers, Rosalie worked in the snack bar at the John Day Drive In and that meant that we got to see all the movies for free.  Unfortunately she didn’t catch enough of “The Blob” to know what it was about and we were terror stricken for weeks after seeing it.  The Blob resided under Lisa’s bed for what seemed like years and it even followed her to Portland.

In 1960, we then moved to the big old “Pink Farmhouse” next to the Elks Club in John Day. The Elks held an annual barbecue that kept the whole family awake late into the night. It was the first time I had ever seen flaming batons throw into the air – they certainly know how to have barbecue in Eastern Oregon. The farmhouse had a very nice area that Mitch used to make his famous home brew.  As with each previous house, Rosalie painted and wallpapered the inside and made new curtains. Our phone number in John Day was “235” and when you picked up the phone you told the operator what number you wanted to call.

Marc graduated from Grant Union High School in June 1961 and Rosalie cried tears of joy that he had made it. He had given her a “few moments” of worry during his high school years. Terry had completed his freshman year, Maevè the second grade and Lisa first grade. That summer we took our only family vacation.  The six of us piled into the 1957 Mercury and headed for the Grand Canyon and Arizona.  Rosalie (who now had a thing about heights since the 1934 incident) stayed in the car while the rest of us climbed a 100 foot lookout tower while in a national forest in Arizona. The entire family decided to take a short hike in Bryce Canyon that took us hours and hours; we never thought we would ever get out of the canyon. We came out of Bryce Canyon about six miles from the car. Marc and Dad hitched a ride to get the car.

In the middle of our walk through Bryce Canyon

During the summer of 1961, we moved to Portland when Mitch took a transfer to the Mt Hood National Forest.  Marc stayed behind in John Day for a year to work.  We bought a brand new house in a sub division in the Rockwood area – 18930 NE Davis Street, off of 188th.  Our address was Portland, but our phone number MOhawk 5-9471 was Gresham.  I remember once finding colored pencil drawings in the linen closet in the hallway in Portland. When I asked Mom about the 1940’s dress designs in colored pencil, she just responded, “those are just doodles” but they were really, really good.

Rosalie took a job in downtown Portland with the Electrolux Company working in the office handling details for the sales staff.  Rosalie was downtown during the Columbus Day Storm 1962 when the store windows were bowing in and out from the wind. As soon as she could she headed home to make sure we were all right.  In our neighborhood various homes had different kinds of damage – fences down, shingles lost, windows broken, we only had a few Mitch’s giant dahlias blown over.
1963 Rosalie and Mitch

Christmas Day 1963 in Yacolt
Terry, Marc, Mitch, Rosalie, Maevè and Lisa
For Grandma Effa’s last birthday

Terry graduated from Centennial High School in June 1964 and then both Terry and Marc were attending Portland State University.  Mitch and Rosalie split up in September 1964 and the divorce was final in July 1965. It was sometime during this time that Rosalie went to work for Western Drug Supply Co. as their Office Manager.

Vina and Teck were friends with the Sneed Family who performed in a family Country and Western band in local area bars.  They introduced Rosalie to Ike Gadd who was Mrs. Sneed’s baby brother – and he could dance!  Ike brought his good friend Frank Jones down to meet Rosalie and to see what Frank’s opinion of her was and if he approved of them getting married.  Frank later said that upon meeting Rosalie he had met the woman he wanted to marry but instead said nothing about that to Ike.

After Rosalie married Ike, we moved to Chehalis on October 31, 1965, minus the boys who were attending college in Portland.  She took a job with a Stihl Chainsaw distributor when Stihl was first getting established in the United States. She met the company founder Andreas Stihl’s godson when he was sent to this country on sales calls.  She found the job interesting but not very well paying.  It was while we were living in Chehalis that after talking about it for a while Mom and I decided to correct the spelling of my first name “Maeva” to ”Maevè.” 
Summer 1966 in front of her Rambler
Things were not going well with Ike (Lisa and I had nicknamed him “Ick”) so she started looking for another job. Frank told Rosalie about a good job that had come open in the Winlock School District Office as District Secretary. Rosalie saw this job as an opportunity to start over so after 18 months in Chehalis (and living in three different places) we moved to Winlock to the farmhouse off of State Highway 505 (then 603) by the junction with Cemetery Road. We again painted and wallpapered the entire interior but this time Lisa and I were old enough to help. Rosalie divorced Ike shortly thereafter.  By this time Marc had graduated from college and had joined the Air Force and was in Officer Training School. I started my freshman year of high school at Mt St Helen’s High School and Lisa was in eighth grade. All during high school Mom would wake us up each morning for school cheerfully singing. Not easy to take if you are not a morning person!

 At the Portland Airport saying good bye to her grandson with Lisa

Marc and his wife Sandi produced Rosalie’s first grandchild – Sean Scott in October 1967. They then headed for Lackland Air Force Base Enid, Oklahoma and more training. In June 1968 Terry graduated from Portland State and headed to Case Western Reserve for graduate school. That summer Rosalie purchased a house in downtown Winlock at 400 NW Arden.  It was three houses down the street from Frank and his mother Mabel’s home.  By this time Frank and Rosalie were seeing each other. In December 1968, Kimberly Anne, Rosalie’s first granddaughter, was born.

During the late 1960s, Rosalie and Stella started our annual family trips to the beach.  They would rent a cabin or a house and sometimes Rita, Don & family and Chris & family would join us.  We all looked forward to this trip each year. We also frequently traveled to Vina’s and spent the weekends with her family.

Rosalie and daughters made monthly pilgrimages to Portland shopping where we were taught the finer points of bargain hunting and to “just look for it” in a cupboard or shelf if we couldn’t find something.  From these trips came the phrase that Rosalie made famous, “Lock the doors, Girls – we are in a rough section of town!”  Rosalie had a lot of phrases that she liked to use. When something we tried to cook turned out well, we were told that we had gotten “a good do on that.” If we were suffering while combing our hair, we were told “it hurts to be beautiful”  and once we were older “Honestly Girls!” Occasionally, she would use a phrase that had to be from the 30s “Now you’re cooking with gas!” while she snapped her fingers and did kind of a Cha Cha step. She also thought things looked real “schnazy”. Her most favorite swear word in the world was “Shit” though she sometime used Grandma Mattie’s favorite “Sugar Tit”.  She would also say "Hell's Bells" when she was annoyed. We would spend hours playing card games and word games such as Boggle or Scrabble. For some reason she had a few names that she would confuse and we were always teasing her about her use of “Creammate” for Coffeemate Creamer.  Rosalie would always do a daily crossword puzzle. It was also during the 60s that she imparted “The Rules for Ladies” to us.  The three Tucker sisters – Stella, Rosalie, and Vina passed the “Ladies Don’t” rules down to their daughters, the five cousins – Rita, Chris, Cheryl, Maeve, and Lisa.

"Ladies Don’t ..."

...  smoke cigarettes on public streets.
...  wear hair curlers out in public.
...  chew more than a half a stick of gum.
...  sit on public toilet seats.
...  have more than two drinks.
...  shave above the knees.
...  go out without a rain hat.

From my childhood in Portland, to Chehalis, and then to Winlock, I always remember Rosalie cleaning house and always putting a stack of records on to listen to while she worked. One of her favorite songs (though she had many) was Moon River – another was Bolero.

March 1969 Rosalie – Winlock School District Business Manager

New Year’s Eve 1969
Rosalie, Sean and Kim

In the late sixties, Rosalie worked the Southwest Washington Fair in the Revenue Officer with Frank.  In the early January 1971 Rosalie also became the Secretary to the Fair Board.  In June 1971, I graduated from Mt St Helens High School in Winlock and then moved to Tacoma to take care of Sean and Kim for the summer before starting school in the fall at the University of Washington.  Rosalie was down to her last child at home; Lisa was now a senior at Mt St Helens High School.  In mid-December 1971 Rosalie became a member of the Winlock Planning Commission.

On April 5, 1972 Rosalie joined the Chehalis Eagles Auxiliary. Lisa graduated in June 1972.  I returned home for the summer to work at the school district office; Rosalie was working long hours transcribing tapes for hearings the district was undergoing due to a lawsuit. At the end of August 1972, for the first time in twenty-five years, Rosalie had no children to send off to public schools when they opened. At the end September, Lisa and I left for Marc’s in Tacoma and the University of Washington for both of us.  Rosalie now had an empty nest.

  Rosalie wanted a decent picture taken before she got decrepit
Age 49 August 1972

Rosalie had a number of good friends in Winlock - Jim Fudge who was custodian at the high school, Gloria Olson who was Frank’s secretary, Louella Young who started working for the high school and then went to the bank, and then Bobby Dodson who came to Winlock School District as Librarian from Quilcene. During the summers Rosalie, Lisa and I continued our tradition of a week at the beach with Stella - usually going in July.  It was always the highlight of our year, and we all looked forward to it. After Frank left Winlock for Seattle, Rosalie continued her civic activities with the Winlock Planning Commission, Winlock Booster Club and the Southwest Washington Fair Board.  She also took over as the Revenue Officer for Fair Week in August.

Terry and Gayle were married April 14, 1973 in Scarborough, Ontario just outside of Toronto; Rosalie flew up for the wedding. During 1973, Rosalie had three children all attending the University of Washington when Marc went back to school to get another degree.  Lisa and I were now living on campus at Haggett Hall Room 451. In March 1974, Rosalie had another granddaughter born - Alicia Gayle – Terry and Gayle’s first child.  Rosalie flew up for a week to visit when Alicia was a baby.

Mid -August 1975, I graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Business Administration.   Rosalie was very ill in the fall and when I got married in November 1975, she was still slowly recovering from gall bladder surgery.  It was also the first time that she had seen Frank in a long time; he had transferred to First Interstate Bank in the Seattle area several years before.  My marriage also added three more grandchildren, Pat (almost 8), Steve (age 6) and Heather (age 4).

Lisa had asked Rosalie to go to Walla Walla with her and spend New Year’s Eve 1975 with Lisa’s future in-laws.   On New Year’s Day, Frank called Rosalie there and asked her to come to Seattle.  She booked the next plane out and flew to Seattle to see him.  I received a call later that day, Rosalie was so excited – they had decided to get married.  When I didn’t respond, she asked me why I wasn’t excited?  I told her that I’d heard that one before and I would believe it when they set the date.  She called back a few hours later - they were getting married in sixteen days on January 17, 1976.  We put a beautiful wedding together in 2 weeks – invitations, flowers - the works. On January 17, 1976, Rosalie became Mrs. W. Frank Jones. 

January 17, 1976
Mr. and Mrs. W. Frank Jones

Rosalie and her sisters
Myrna, Vina, Rosalie, Stella, Cleta

They took a belated honeymoon in April to Hawaii. Until they could determine where the bank branch Frank was going to be assigned to was located, Frank kept his apartment in Seattle and Rosalie kept her job and house in Winlock.  They would get together on weekends in Seattle or Winlock or go camping.  Soon after they were married they upgraded the tent to a tent trailer.
April 1977 Steve, Heather and Pat

Easter Dinner April 17, 1977 at Grandma Rosalie’s
Heather, Kim, Steve, Sean and Pat

From grandson Pat: “Most of my memories with Grandma Rosalie come from being at the house on Arden Avenue.  They really aren’t memories of visiting the house, for that doesn’t really describe how comfortable it was to be there.  It just seemed like, when you were there, that was the place to be.  As comfortable as being in your own home.”

“I have fond memories of watching Grandma and the rest of the grown-ups playing cards and being fascinated by the way they played, even though I didn’t know how to play at the time.  We kids could always find something to do at the house, whether it be playing in and around the creek in the back, or playing games inside.”

“As time has passed, I’ve grown to appreciate how amazingly at home Grandma and Grandpa made us feel.  Now that it seems that every visit to family is an event, and that I don’t see everyone as much as I used to, I can appreciate how natural if felt to be in the company of Grandma Rosalie and the rest of the family.  And I will always cherish how welcome and loved she always made me feel.”
And from grandson Steve:  “I have very few memories of Grandma Rosalie, but those I have are all good.  She was a kind, and warm woman that always made me feel welcome in her home and part of the family.  I remember her friendly face and her pale blond hair that always looked like she had just returned from the beauty salon.  Being so young, I never had a conversation with her, but I honestly don’t remember a harsh word coming out of her mouth.  It wouldn’t stand out anyway, I was always up to no good.”

“Other than that, I remember the white house on the creek in Winlock.  It was always clean and warm.  When I picture her in my head, I see her sitting at the table in the kitchen playing cards with a smile on her face.”

From granddaughter Heather, “Grandma Rosalie was not my biological grandmother, but she was my grandma in every sense of the word. We loved each other unconditionally. She opened her heart and accepted me as part of her family. When I think of grandma, only happy times come to mind. I don’t remember any cross words instead I remember smiles, hugs and laughter. Grandma always looked so well put together. Her hair always looked like she just left the beauty parlor, her clothes freshly pressed, and her make-up done just perfect. I remember her love for cards for she always had them set up in the kitchen. This may sound strange, but grandma always had orange juice in the refrigerator. I always looked forward to going to grandma’s house. There was always something fun to do.”

In June 1976, Lisa graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Science as a registered nurse. In April 1977, Spencer James was born to Terry and Gayle.  About this time Rosalie gave up her job and moved to Seattle.  Frank had been assigned to a brand new branch - Evergreen East in Bellevue as a Bank Manager.  Rosalie was now looking for a job that she soon found with the Square D Company on Mercer Island.  They also purchased a new house in Redmond that was in the process of being built.  They were able to make some changes to the plans and picked out the counters, floors and appliances.

1977 on a sailboat

November 26, 1977
Typical morning playing cards

On a Thursday in May 1978, my son Marc was born in Longview.  He paid his first visit to Grandpa and Grandma’s in Redmond when he was just 9 days old.

 Heather, Marc and Rosalie

On September 19, 1979, Rosalie was absolutely crushed when she lost her younger sister Vina at age 52 1/2 – Rosalie was almost 57.  Rosalie had long had a habit that we had always kidded her about – whenever she referred to Vina she would say “My Sister Vina”.  We would tease her unmerciful about this making sure she wasn’t taking about “Her Cousin Vina” or “Acquaintance Vina” since, after all, Vina was such a common name.  She would just shake her head and say, “I don’t know why I do that.”  After Vina’s death, Rosalie missed Vina terribly and dreamed of her often.  Rosalie was very happy though that Vina, who had also remarried, had spent a weekend in Redmond with her shortly before she died.

December 1979
Myrna, Cleta, Jack, Rosalie, Arnold, Stella

In June 1980, my daughter Nicole was born in Longview.  Rosalie came down with Lisa to take care of her last grandchild when I came home from the hospital.  They didn’t get much sleep that first night because they kept waking up and waiting for Nicole to wake up.  Rosalie couldn’t believe it when Nicole slept for five hours and then woke them up sucking on her thumb – she didn’t even cry. The end of July 1980, Terry, Gayle, Spencer and Alicia came out for a visit and to attend a family reunion. Rosalie loved having all four of her children together again and all of her grandchildren playing together.

Frank retired from the bank and eventually went to work for a water slide park managing the ticket sales - WaterWorks Park in Issaquah.  Rosalie often helped him in the evenings and on weekends.  The grandkids REALLY enjoyed the water park.

Around this time the Square D Regional Vice President made a job offer to Rosalie.  He wanted her to be his Executive Secretary in Oakland, California.  He had recognized the quality of her work and her abilities – he wanted her working for him!  As appealing and flattering as the offer was, Rosalie and Frank decided not to relocate with only a few years left until her retirement.

Rosalie in the window of the Redmond house

Rosalie had long had high blood pressure and high cholesterol and that coupled with her years of smoking caused the first of her chest pains.  After her first big scare, she quit smoking but the damage had already been done to her blood vessels.  In November 1985, she had her first bypass surgery that was followed in January 1987, a mere 14 months later, by her second bypass surgery.  They were unable to do any further bypasses after that but as her arteries would block up she would have numerous angioplasties performed.  Every time Rosalie was in the hospital she would not stop talking because she always had so much she wanted to say in case she didn’t make it.  Rosalie also started a QVC habit; she would shop away and then be delighted when she returned home and had packages to open.

Rosalie needed to work for Square D for ten years in order to have a vested retirement with medical benefits. During a round of budget cuts by corporate headquarters, her boss took a pay cut to ensure that she remained full time. By sheer force of will Rosalie made it to July 31, 1987, and retirement at last.  She moved to Winlock that night.  Frank had come down ahead of her and had been remodeling the house after the renters had moved out.

August 1987
Dale, Stella, Rosalie, Arnold
And Cleta

The Jones’ now set out to enjoy retirement. They had already upgraded the tent trailer to a trailer and now they upgraded to a fifth wheel trailer. They equipped the fifth wheel with many deluxe features including a chandelier over the table.  As time went on it became more and more difficult for Rosalie to travel for long periods of time, but they never gave up camping and just planned out their route accordingly.  Traffic made her very nervous but crocheting would help her stay calm and also kept her fingers nimble in spite of her arthritis.  After she retired she started a doll collection. She crocheted elaborate doll costumes and enjoyed herself immensely.

Rosalie made Halloween costumes each year and Frank decorated the house for the two to three hundred trick or treaters they would have each Halloween. They also decorated the whole yard and house for Christmas – adding more lights each year to the yard.  Christmas was still her favorite time of year.

In the summers and during Spring Break, they would take Marc and Nicole camping with them to Thousand Trails campgrounds where they would play Bingo, miniature golf with grandpa and do crafts.

Frank and Rosalie became very active in the Winlock Methodist Church and really enjoyed helping Reverend Steve Caskey.  They also were active participants at the Wineloqua Senior Center.  Rosalie took many fun classes there and made a queen size quilt their bed and a quilted jacket for herself.  Rosalie and Frank’s sister Margaret became good friends and spent many enjoyable hours together.

Rosalie had always loved words her whole life and still did crossword puzzles.  If she wasn’t sewing or crocheting or watching TV with Frank – she was reading.  She loved to cook and taught us many recipes with a pinch of this and a glob of that.

In March 1990, Rosalie’s first Great Grandchild Tyler was born in Olympia to Sean and Gale.  She was so excited and she absolutely adored Tyler.

July 27, 1990
Back row – Frank, Sean, Pat, Heather, Tyler
Kim, Rosalie, Alicia, Spencer, Marc, Nicole

In late July 1990, Terry and family came out for a visit which Rosalie thoroughly enjoyed. On August 18, 1990, the Jones’ took Marc and Nicole to Hawaiian Night at Thousand Trails Chehalis Preserve.  They all had so much fun at the Luau and Rosalie talked about it for weeks.
The Jones’ loved camping at Maryhill State Park on the Columbia River and the kids and I joined them there for a weekend during the summer of 1991.  We also spent a weekend in October 1991 at the Pacific City, Oregon Thousand Trails.

Rosalie continued to enjoy Egg Day, the Senior Center activities, and most of all their deck out over the Olequa Creek, and her doll collection continued to grow by leaps and bounds. Even though she had frequent doctor visits and hospitalizations since she had retired she never let it get her down.

From Marc: “My childhood memories of Grandma Rosalie begin with our trips to Redmond to visit the Grandparents.  We had certain things that we did on every visit.  We would play Rummy; we would drink orange juice (Grandma always had orange juice in her refrigerator); and we would always eat Andes mints.”

“We would also often go the King’s Table Buffet in Kirkland and later Roy’s Chuckwagon in Chehalis where Grandma would let me have as many cinnamon rolls as I wanted! I remember her calling me Marcus Apopolous, and her saying that she had called my Uncle Marc that when he was younger.  Grandma would tell me that I was handsome and had great dimples – the best in the world.”

“We had many fun weekends at Thousand Trails with the Grandparents. Though I never really considered it camping; it was more like luxury living. Grandma was always my champion, which was necessary since I was frequently in trouble for doing something I shouldn’t be doing.  She loved me unreservedly. “

Rosalie went all out for Halloween 1993 and even convinced Margaret to make a matching costume for the Arabian Nights.  She also went all out for Christmas that year wanting it to be extra special.  It was almost as if she knew that she was at the end of her strength but she never said a word to anyone.

                                                                      Christmas 1993
Heather, Grandma, Nicole

On January 4, 1994, the Jones’ took their last vacation with their trailer down to the Oregon Coast.  They always loved that time of year there.

January 3, 1994 Depoe Bay

January 10, 1994 Rosalie’s last picture – Depoe Bay, Oregon

On February 1, 1994, her first Great Granddaughter ShellSea Rosalie was born to her granddaughter Kym. On Tuesday, February 8, 1994, Grandpa Frank took Nicole to her orthodontist appointment in Centralia. When they were done, they went back to Winlock and had lunch with Grandma Rosalie.  Nicole said that they had turkey sandwiches on white with potato chips and milk. She said that during lunch Grandma was gushing about how great she was feeling and that her hands were a little bothersome with arthritis, but aside from that she hadn’t felt that great in a long time. They had such a great lunch that Nicole really didn’t want to go back to school – she just wanted to stay with them. 

February 9th started out as a typical Wednesday with a lunch at the Winolequa Senior Center. They then went home and starting cooking for a church potluck.  Rosalie started feeling very badly and Frank called an ambulance. It would be the last time she spent in her home. She was taken to Providence Hospital in Centralia and then on Friday night transferred to Capital Medical Center in Olympia. We met Lisa at the hospital on Saturday morning, February 12th.  My sister said later that Mom had told her she was dying and to please let her go in peace. While she did not want to leave her family, it was her time. Family visited and called Saturday and Sunday. Nicole had received the MVP award (Most Valuable Player) at her basketball game a few days before and was wearing the special MVP jacket. Rosalie was extremely proud of her granddaughter.  Rosalie was very, very tired on Saturday and, as usual, trying to talk as much as she could. Nicole remembers Grandma Rosalie having to move her oxygen mask so she could kiss Nicole’s hand.

On Sunday February 13th during the last 14 hours of her life, she finally got to see ShellSea Rosalie for the first and only time. She was no longer able to speak except for a few whispers but she thought the baby was just beautiful – that was Rosalie -- gushing to the last. (We used to always tease her about her overly enthusiastic ways.)  I left Lisa and Frank at the hospital that evening and headed back to Winlock because Marc and Nicole had school the next day and I planned on returning the next morning. At midnight, exhaustion overcame Lisa and Frank and they decided to rest in the visitors’ lounge. Lisa whispered in her ear that they would be close by if she needed anything. Frank woke up suddenly just before 2:00 a.m. and walked into her room as she died. It seemed as if she called to him to say goodbye. At 2:03 a.m. Frank woke Lisa up and told her Mom was gone.  Lisa went in to say goodbye. Lisa said, “The most striking thing I noticed was how peaceful and youthful her face looked.  While she looked younger than her 71 years, she appeared even younger with death. No more strained or painful expression - just peace and contentment.  She was ready to move on.” They then called me to tell me she was gone.

Mom loved holidays.  She had already purchased a Valentine’s Day card for her beloved Frank that I had found on the Sunday evening before she died when I went by their house to pick up some things for them.  I delivered the card to him on the day she died – Valentine’s Day 1994. As my sister said, “a fitting day for her to die because she did love so much – her husband, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.”

Her heart, which was at a 15% capacity, had finally given out in the early morning hours of Valentine’s Day.  She had fought clogged arteries and a heart damaged by a heart attack since 1985. She had two by-pass surgeries 14 months apart and numerous angioplasties.   She also had an incredible will to survive – because she loved her family so much.

Mom, I love you.

Rosalie’s youngest granddaughter Nicole wrote a poem to describe her grandmother.


I can’t lose myself very long in the memories, before anguish draws me near.
I will try to let my words glide smoothly, resembling the graceful path of a fallen tear.

Her smile, her voice, her rich laughter,
When “secrets” were shared with me, the cunning she possessed, glimmered in her eyes
Her pride in her family was clear, the females of her soul and all her passel of guys.
Even my brother, for all the havoc he caused in my world, was an angel in her paradise.

My eyes close, and senses drift to the touch and smells I can recall
The supple smooth yarn that quickly became a favored new doll
The softness of her hands and face with the subtle aid of Olay.
The morning smells of French Toast baking, and syrup lead the way
Curls in her hair, each with a perfect shape,
Busy, always going, her hands never stayed in one place.
Patting my hand, dealing the cards, a hand on grandpa’s cheek.
Her life was always moving, rushing for more time she could sneak

My love of cards was developed at the kitchen table
Spike and Alice was my favorite game to play
The puppies’ feet, the diamonds, hearts and spades,
My skills at shuffling, impressive to this day.

Our 5th wheel, the home among the thousands of trails
The four of us made a well-balanced traveling team
Grandpa and Marc, with their bond that her heart adored
And She and I had each other for escape to the feminine world.

My cheerleader alongside the basketball court,
I felt her exhilaration at my dog pile and during the swish of my ball in flight,
Mom threatened to calm her with Valium, as Grandma clapped with all her might
She cheered me in life not just in the game of sports

Her never-wavering love and respect of my father,
Helped me through the confusion and grief of divorce
When I just wanted and needed a reason.... a person to blame
I saw her support to my strong, loving, and vibrant mother
And her never faltering belief in the great big-hearted man who is my father
I knew I could follow her lead and still believe in the same.

As I take myself through the years that were without her
The tears follow the rhythm of each poem line
My graduations, my loves and my triumphs
The years pass quickly by, but she stays near
Forever embodied in Stella, Mom and Lisa, or a story, or a picture we hold dear
I hope that the torch will make its way down
For her soul to flame brightly within me... and those who will be mine.

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