Sunday, July 26, 2009

We've had a sad few days at our house. My grandmother passed away on Monday. I suppose when someone is 90 it seems a little overly dramatic to say that it was unexpected. But. Well. It was. I won't go into all the medical specifics. Suffice to say, last month she was grocerry shopping and planning a trip to New York. And now she is gone.

The reality of my life is that I don't get a lot of time to sit around and reminisce, or brood. There have been a couple of quiet, tearful moments. But mostly I am just keeping kids fed, dressed, reasonably safe and in bed at a semi-decent hour. C'est la vie. But I did sit the other day and write her obituary, which was bittersweet. I think it turned out...nice. A sum of someones life in a single page and all that.

It didn't say the thing I never said to her. (Not that I have lingering regret. I don't believe in holding out on the I love yous. We are a smoochy cuddly bunch around here.) I really don't even think it was necessary to tell my grandma about the ah ha moment I had as an adult, as a mom, just a couple of years ago.

You see, if we get technical, she was only my grandma because she decided to be. Years ago. When her middle son married a woman with a 4 year old. I don't know what even made me think of that. Maybe it was watching her delight in my kids - her great grandkids - and realizing that there was not a single part of her that didn't consider me/us family. There never was. And even though I remember quite clearly the day my mom and dad told me they were getting married, I don't remember my grandparents EVER not being Grandma and Grandpa.

And I think that's pretty cool.

So here is her obituary. There is a lot left unsaid from my perspective. Like all the trips we took in their motorhome, and all the crazy stuff we went to see. (That might be a fun post in and of itself. I'm sure a bunch of those quirky places have web sites I could link to.) Or how she taught me to crochet, and needlepoint. Or about the little plastic looms she bought so we could make flowers out of yarn. How there was always Squirt in the fridge at her house, which clearly is to blame for my life long addiction. About how we picked asparugus along the ditchbanks. Or how she made wine in the bathtub. Or how I channel her every time I do a major junk reduction in our house. Oh, and the time we took her to get her ears pierced! I could write all day.

But children and dishes and laundry are calling. So I will end with this. We love you Grandma!

Eleanor Mae Sigsbee Fuess passed away peacefully on Monday, June 20th after 90 years lived to the fullest.

Ellie was born on March 20, 1919 in Madison, NY to Jason Sigsbee and Ella Evans. She was the third of four children – Bob, Leonard, Ellie and Jean. She attended school in Madison, NY where she was an outstanding athlete. At a time when girls played basketball in long skirts, her high school team won the state championship. Her coach, Doc Talbot, didn’t know until later that she played the entire second half of the game with a dislocated shoulder.

Off the court she won the heart of a sophomore named Ron. They wed on December 30th, 1939 and were married 60 years before Ron passed away in 1999. During those 60 years they were rarely apart.

After high school graduation Ellie attended Excelsior Business School in Utica, NY. She worked for an attorney, William Burke, as a legal secretary until she got married. Ron and Ellie lived in several small towns in central and northern New York before settling Pulaski in 1948.

Ellie raised three boys, Barry, Louis and Phillip. When the boys were school aged she began working alongside Ron. From 1948 to 1952 she worked for Pulaski Wood and Supply (a bowling pin factory) as a secretary. In 1952 she and Ron bought Pulaski Fuel and Supply, and ran the company together for about 15 years. After that, she kept the books for The Log Cabin (a hotel, bar and restaurant) until she and Ron followed their sons to Idaho in 1972.

In Idaho, they bought a small farm in Boise where Ellie had a beautiful garden. Her green thumb and skills in the kitchen produced delicious jams and jellies, pies, and even a batch of apricot wine!

Both Ron and Ellie were very active in the Eastern Star, serving as the Worthy Grand Patron and Matron of the Idaho Grand Chapter in the mid 1980’s. Through that organization they made many dear friends and served the Boise community philanthropically for years.

RVing was a favorite pastime of Ellie and Ron’s in their later years. They enjoyed traveling from coast to coast, always stopping to visit a new monument or find a quirky attraction. In their retirement they sold their farm and became snowbirds, spending half the year in Florida and half the year in Idaho, with lots of trips to visit family in New York as well. After Ron’s death Ellie continued to winter in Lady Lake, FL. Her friends there became like family, and she enjoyed her role as the entertainment and excursion coordinator for the community where she lived.

Just recently Ellie moved back to Idaho full time to be with her family. Her great grandchildren brought her much joy these last several months. Friday mornings were their weekly play date where she would read books and play pretend with them tirelessly.

Ellie was preceded in death by her parents, her brother Leonard, her husband Ron and her youngest son Phillip.

Ellie is greatly missed by her brother Bob, sister Jean, her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and many nieces and nephews.


scarlett said...

We will miss seeing her smiling face at all the family gatherings. She really did enjoy her family and her great grandkids.

Anonymous said...

You were a grandparent rich, girl, Clover, for a long time too. You made them all so happy too.

wiwwa said...

Oh, Katie. I am so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful obituary- you did a great job telling her story in the few words allowed, even though her life could fill a novel!

Tales from the Crib said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, but what a beautiful tribute. HUGS from cyberspace.