Woven Blessings
Fall 2004

by Sheri L. VanDuyn

"When I am old I shall rock." This is an old saying that I have used when wearing a sterling rocking chair charm necklace. I often get compliments on this unique mini woven chair – its wicker design is cast in sterling and reminiscing of the Victorian age of wicker.

After receiving a compliment one usually asks, why are you wearing a rocking chair? Besides the fact that this chair is a mini wicker rocker, it reminds me of the days when I would rock, feed, and sing my babies to sleep at bedtime. Many happy hours and late night memories were made in this nursery white wicker rocker. I often say that when I am old, I shall rock, but for right now it is rock my world!"

Seems like life goes so fast. Time continues to march on stopping for no one. My "baby", Brian will be a senior this year and graduating next year. Where does time go? My mother in law claims that each year of her married life goes faster than the next and she has been married for 71 years! I sometimes think-"How can life continue to go on so fast?" My father-in-law claims that after retirement and now in his early 90’s it takes him all day to do what he use to do after work. And there always seems to be work to do. My Grandparents and my in laws are both from the same generation. What was interesting to me is that my mother’s parents and my husband’s parents were each married 1week apart in February 1933-one in California and the other in Michigan.

They loved visiting with each other during the summer months when my in laws would visit from California. Often stories would be compared of first children, the depression, early homes and the changes in cars. I often marveled at how time was the bond for their conversation. After dinner and dessert I would always remark to my husband how these couples could have gotten along without us there!

While my in-laws are in good health yet, my Grandpa Grimm passed away over 10 years ago and my Grandmother passed away earlier this year at the age of 90. Grandma Pauline was a hard worker. I can always remember her working in the ladies dress section of a downtown Muskegon’s department store named Hardy Herpolsheimer’s. As a child I would visit her at work. Easter and Christmas I was always given new dresses from my Grandma to match my younger sister and 3 cousins.

Grandma came to the United States as a young child twice. The family did not last long the first year, but after returning to the Netherlands for a short time, her father realized that the U. S. A. was the place for his family. Grandma Pauline was a young girl arriving back in the U.S. with her brother. Going to school would be a challenge as neither spoke English! It was a huge adjustment, being teased and picked on; Pauline could have been a bitter girl, but was more determined to succeed. She graduated as one of the top of her class and was encouraged to go into nursing, but because of the cost, her father said "no" and that was the end of that discussion. She later married my Grandfather, had 3 children. Her first, my Uncle Jack was a preemie and while bringing her baby in for a routine checkup, another mother asked, "Is your baby going to die?" My Grandmother hugged him and defiantly said- "NO"! This just shows you her determination. In her later years she might talk of their early years of marriage and their struggles and hopes. Grandma was always a serving wife, waiting on my Grandfather hand and foot. She would always say. "Now, now—it only takes a moment to get him what he needs!" This might be appalling to a modern day marriage.

My Grandmother loved every social activity her grandchildren and great grand children were involved in. She would love to attend Christmas programs, music concerts, plays and musicals, basketball and soccer games and especially birthday parties. Grandma looked forward to these family gatherings the most. She never learned to drive; Grandpa always did that too. After his death, she thought she would learn to drive in her 70’s. My Uncle found her sitting in their car in the garage. She said to him—"I see the P for Park, the R for Reverse, but where is the G for Go?" We all knew after hearing this that Grandma should not be driving.

Grandma’s pastime was when you would come over to sit and visit. After selling their tiny white bungalow Grandma moved to the top floor of a senior High Rise Apartments. Living on the 9th floor Grandma called this her "Penthouse in the Sky". Here my Mom bought Grandma a very comfortable green rocking chair which when she was home, was where Grandma always sat. This chair was a mini Lazy Boy rocker in green corduroy fabric. She loved getting company!

Last Thanksgiving Grandma ended up in the Hospital and returned home to go back in for 21 days over Christmas. She hated missing all the parties, programs, and festivities. The food was not good as her salt and sugar was strictly limited. Grandma went into a nursing home for 1 week. My brothers moved her green chair into this small room. She just beamed thinking that her chair was brought to her. Then she was put back in the hospital with heart failure; the family was called, Grandma was on a ventilator. My cousins and Uncle all flew to say our final good byes. The doctor said death was imminent, everything was failing and it would be a matter of hours. Well, 3 days later everyone flew home as Grandma surprised everyone as she went home to my sister Kathy’s house who had set up a hospital bed with Grandma’s favorite chair there also. She seemed so at peace here. My sister who does in home health care was ready to take care of Grandma for the duration; but Hospice was called in and within 1 short week of staying at my sister’s home, she was gone.

Cleaning out my Grandma’s apartment with my Mom one night, I found many things I had given her over the years. This should have not surprised me, but in the bookcase right next to where her green chair sat were all my issues of Just Patterns. In the kitchen were all the baskets that I had woven using Grandpa’s wood working skill. Many other gifts from over the years decorated her cozy apartment and some were found in her closet as she kept everything! My Uncle decided my sister should have Grandma’s chair. While she can use it, her daughter is starting college this fall, so Grandma’s chair is college bound. While she never when off to school, her chair is! When I am old, I shall rock!

~"The Lord is my rock
and my salvation"…Psalms 18:2

Woven Blessings

by Sheri L. Van Duyn

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