Monday, January 25, 2010

Good-Bye Grandma Ginnie

Early Sunday morning (1-23-10) C.O.'s Grandma Ginnie passed away. She had suffered a stroke the week before and did not recover. She was 93 years old. This is my memorial to her.

What do you say about a person once they're gone? The things that come to mind seem so trivial. For instance, Ginnie liked her toast burnt. When we inadvertently burn things, we call it "Grandma Ginny style". Her toasters never lasted very long since they were always cranked up so high. Why is that the first thing I think of? Toast of all things.

Baby blue, pink and lavender. I associate these colors with Virginia. She painted her world in pastels, her house is ablaze with blue, pink and purple and has been for years. It obviously made Ginnie happy. Her niece, Marcy, wrote a very touching letter one Christmas about her favorite aunt and how she admired the way Ginnie could use those colors to decorate. The letter was so well written, I'd like to see it again some day.

It's an understatement to say she had a most amazing memory. I had mentioned in a blog post last February about how simply hearing a phrase would jog her memory and start her singing a song. In the early days of dating C.O., I met some of his extended relatives. We ended up in the basement at Grandma Ginnie's house, while I lamely tried to pound out some tunes on the old pump organ, they were singing from a book of popular songs from decades gone by. All that to say, she knew each song by heart, even the second and third verses. Pop songs, hymns, poems and even silly ones her and her sisters had made up years ago would come back to her word for word.

Through the miracle of Facebook, I am connected with her great nephew, Brooks. After hearing of her passing, he shared this with me. "She had a wonderful spirit full of joy and song. I still remember some verses of a song she and her sisters wrote while awaiting rescue next to a leaking boat they had taken out on the lake--she taught me to the verses when I interviewed her and my grandmother for a 7th grade project. 'When you're sitting on top of a boat and you don't know how long it will float...what a thrill it would be a strong lifeguard to see... when you're sitting on top of a boat.' "

A few years back, we spent New Years Eve with C.O.'s parents and Grandma Ginnie. She was still living at home at the time and we decided to pull out the slide projector and look at her and Grandpa Charlie's old slides. There were pictures of holidays, their trips to the Caribbean and gatherings of friends and family. The funniest thing, the colors of the walls (light blue) and the way the furniture was set up was pretty much the same as it was the night we were viewing the slides.

Speaking of photo memories. I'm glad we captured this four generations photo last year at C.O.'s birthday gathering.

There are some memories that I experience second-hand from the stories C.O. tells and through old photographs. Like the time she took C.O. and his cousin out to Washington D.C. to see his Auntie Phyllis and to tour the sites, or how she would belt out "Up From the Grave He Arose" in the church choir on Easter Sunday. Stories like this will continue to surface from time to time. Now that she's gone, they'll be all the sweeter . . . trivial or not.


Erin said...

Thank you for sharing this special tribute. Our thoughts are with you.

Sara said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I remember Grandma Ginnie with great fondness. She will be missed.

Christina said...

A beautiful tribute! We're so very sorry for your loss. Cherish those fun memories (my grandma loved burnt toast, too!)

Nancy M. said...

I'm sorry for your loss! She sounded like a lovely lady!

Margot R said...

The burnt toast is know as Grandma Ginny's at our house too. She is such an amazing lady! And I do me lady in the truest sense of the word.

srhcb said...

A beautiful tribute, but you left out her laugh?

It was unforgetable, both for it's unique intonation, and because one heard it so often.

A wonderful woman.

Steve Baker (nephew)

The Rudstroms said...

A message from Sherrie Beth -- "Ginnie was a big part of all of our lives as kids. She always kept a watchful eye on us and when we asked to ring the bell, she always said yes with a firm, just once! I can't tell you how many times she would be standing on ...the steps of the cabin as all of us flew up and down the path a dozen times a day. It was a special time and she will be remembered fondly."

The Rudstroms said...

Virginia I. Rudstrom, 93, of Chisholm, died Sunday, Jan. 24, 2010, at Fairview University Medical Center- Mesabi in Hibbing.
She was born Sept. 16, 1916, in Virginia, Minn., to Roy M. and Jessie I. (Chalmers) Baker.
She had been a Chisholm resident since early childhood and was a graduate of Chisholm High School Class of 1934. She received her BS degree in Home Economics from the University of Minnesota. Virginia was united in marriage on Sept. 20, 1943 in Chisholm to Charles O. Rudstrom.
She was preceded in death by her parents, husband, Charles O. on July 19, 1974; son, Kenneth; grandson, Charles “Sandy” Brenner; two brothers and two sisters.
Survivors include her children, Phyllis Brenner of Alexandria, Va., Charles “Mac” (Mary Kay) of Side Lake, Minn.; daughter-in-law, Beverly Rudstrom of Chisholm; her AFS son in 1962 – Kiyoshi Yarimizo of Japan; seven grandsons and 11 great-grandchildren; sister, Roberta Johnson of Duluth; numerous nephews and nieces.

The Rudstroms said...

Brooks remembered more of the "stranded in a boat" song by Virginia Baker Rudstrom

When you’re sitting on top of a boat.
And you don’t know how long it will float.
And you’re wondering when, you’ll touch dry land again.
And you have half the lake down your throat.
And each wave that breaks over your head,
Makes you think that you soon will be dead.
What a thrill it would be, a strong life guard to see,
When you’re sitting on top of a boat.

--Thanks Brooks for passing this on to us.