Monday, June 30, 2014


Marcella Greiner, my grandmother

A few weeks ago, my beautiful grandmother Marcella passed away.  She was a kindhearted, hardworking, funny and unstoppable force of nature who loved her kids, grandkids and great-grandkids to pieces.  Some of my best memories as a child are from summers on her farm down a dirt road in small town Washington, Iowa.

Basketball Champion (holding the trophy)

Grandma always made me feel special, and always let me sneak an extra whoopie pie or two from the ice box when we came to visit all the way from Washington State.  Summers were hot and full of lightning bugs and barn cats, thunder storms and firecrackers.  We'd drink endless bottles of Coke and Fanta that we dare not throw away - those were worth a few cents each in Iowa!  Grandma would work hard all day cooking from scratch and taking care of her guests, with routine breaks for cigarettes at the kitchen table.  We'd sit up at night and watch out the back bedroom window in her house as the thunderstorms lit up the sky and rivers of rain ran down the little backyard hill.  I could never rise early enough to eat her famous beignets (those were long gone by the time I woke up).  I was too young to really remember the chicken's getting their heads cut off, but I'm sure my siblings could tell you a story or two about that as well.  Her gentle teasing and raspy laugh followed by a gentle squeeze were cherished by one and all.

Grandma and Grandpa's road

Growing up, I was one of eighteen grandkids, and one of only four girls.  I fell into the unfortunate age/sex category that usually yielded teasing and/or ignoring by older boy relatives (and sister), but I persevered in my tagging along and was occasionally included in a game of spoons, sleepover at Aunt Ann's or ride down a dirt road in my cousin Jamie's land barge of a sedan.  But when I wasn't included, Grandma always had a hug ready and somehow kept me busy despite my pouty lip.  When I was young, she'd get out "Tommy Town" from the toy closet, and we'd often head to the Amish mercantile where I could buy gum.  Sometimes she'd get Grandpa to take me into town to the Pizza Hut (YES!) to be spoiled with a slice of pepperoni and cheese alongside my younger cousins (remember those Land Before Time toys, Abby???).  Sometimes I'd get to play bumper pool on the patio or I'd help her bake, but I especially loved when I got to get out the console and play Pitfall on THE ATARI!  She always made sure I had a good time.

My daughter with her "GG"

I saw her less often than I'd have liked as I grew older, and I wish I could have had more time to know her better as an adult.  My kids loved talking to "GG" on the phone and I'm so happy they got to see her once more last fall.  They got to know her unforgettable laugh as well.  She was a great lady, loved by many - down to earth and so hospitable.  At her funeral, I got to hear so many heartwarming, funny stories about her.  She endured pain and hardship alongside her many successes throughout her long and fruitful life.  She left behind a large, beautiful and loving family that came together after her passing and found some comfort in one another.  I believe that's her greatest accomplishment.

Rest in Peace, Marcella Greiner.  You are loved and you are deeply missed.