Grandpa's Girl

Grandpas always have time for you when everyone else is too busy.

 First, Happy Father's Day to all the fathers and grandfathers out there. I guess that it is appropriate that today is the day that I gathered the courage to write this. On June 4th I lost one of the most important men in my life. My grandpa, Morbe John Schneidewend. There is always the official obituary that lists all those who are left behind, and those who proceeded him in death, but it seems so short when I think of everything that Grandpa did in his life and all the things that I never knew and probably won't know about him.

In previous posts I've explained the chaos that was my youth. There was one constant in that storm and that was my grandma and grandpa's house. My sister and I were dropped off there almost every morning during elementary school. Grandma would make whatever I wanted for breakfast. It is part of the reason that I can't stomach French Toast anymore after eating it for a year straight. In other words, I spent a lot of time at their house. Before our clan got to large, every Easter, Christmas Eve, and Thanksgiving brought the entire family together. For the first eight years of my life I was the youngest of the cousins which meant I was the target of much hair pulling and teasing, but those gatherings were some of the happiest times.

Even during my parent's divorce I looked forward to them, except for one Christmas Eve that was a horrible misunderstanding that had my mom not show up. I was devastated and in tears and while everyone was trying to get me to smile and be ok, Grandpa came to my aid and told them to leave me alone. That is one of my strongest memories of him. He was my defender and protector against the bad things.

The picture above is Grandma and Grandpa's wedding picture. They celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary the day before a horrible stroke struck Grandpa. When I got the voicemail from Mom to call her ASAP on Saturday, I thought the worse. He was in the hospital but the prognosis was not good. I was fortunate to have a coworker take my Sunday shift and Kevin and I went up to visit. Pretty much everyone was there. I don't think the ICU unit had seen that many people for one person for some time. The sign on the door saying two visitors in the room at any given time was ignored. It had been years since I had seen some of my cousins and some of my second cousins I hadn't even met, but for this event we made sure to be there. Those from out of town drove as fast as they could and those out of state tried to make arrangements to be there.

The stroke was very severe and knowing how stubborn he was the family knew he would not want to be on a feeding tube and a living shell. It became a horrible waiting game at that point. Kevin and I stayed at the hospital until seven Sunday night. When I was about to leave I leaned over and gave Grandpa a parting kiss on the cheek and told him I loved him. For the only time in the hours that I had been there he tried to speak, and I don't care what my aunt says, he told me he loved me in those mumbled words.

At 5:30am Monday morning I got the call that he passed away. I suppose this was a blessing that he wasn't in such a state for very long. My grandma refused to leave his side that night. 66 years together after all. I think my cousin, Kathleen, said it best "It's not the fact that he's dieing it's the fact that my grandma stays by his side for worse or for poor, For over 66 years of marriage! My grandpa lived an amazing life! A life of faith, hard work and was putting people before himself! I am blessed to be able to have him in my life and for as long as I had! He will be missed but he will soar on the wings of eagles!"

The rest of the week was a blur. I wanted to do something to memorialize Grandpa and the best thing I could think of was to plant a lilac bush. My grandparent's house is surrounded by lilacs. Every year Grandpa and I would clip bouquets for Grandma, so the lilac bush was fitting. It is not easy to find one so late in the season, and asking for violets at Home Depot is evidently a cardinal sin. I managed to get a viola plant with seven little flowers on it that looked close enough to violets. I spent the day before the funeral with my sister, nephew, and brother-in-law at Grandma's. I gave Grandma three of the violets. The rest were for Grandpa. I put them i the breast pocket of his suit like so many other little hand made bouquets I had given him as a little girl.

That is all the sadness surrounding the end of Grandpa's life, but what of all the happiness? How selfish are we in our grief? My grandpa taught me as much about hard work and play as my own father, if not more. He spent hours taking apart electric motors for just a little bit of copper. He was climbing into his tree stand up until he was eighty years old. He was stubborn. Like a lot of older people he preferred not to take his pills and would cancel his birthday. He would eat entire meals without his dentures because he thought they felt funny. 

But he also let a little girl climb around the wood pile and find little pieces of wood that she could hammer together into homemade giraffes and horses. He would take her strawberry picking and fill buckets with berries. He would let her take things apart beside him and go hunting for worms in the garden. He took an old tire and built her a tire swing because she wanted one like the one at school. My favorite memory was when my sister was moving from Oregon to Boston my mom threw together a baby shower for her even though my nephew was already born and it was the first time the family was seeing him, while everyone was running around, Grandpa, Dad, and I sat outside staring at the clouds. With all the halabaloo that quiet moment of picking out shapes mattered the most. 

As an adult, my grandparents helped me out of some hard times financially and even when I got my feet under me he would force me to take money because I needed to pay for gas so I could visit him more. I am so glad I made those extra trips even if it was hard to see such a strong man shuffling around the house and my grandma's onsetting Alzheimer's. We would sit and watch the birds and squirrels and put together puzzles.  I'm glad I would stop, turn around and give extra kisses and hugs, I guess I was stock piling them for now.

Me, My Sis, Grandpa, Grandpa, and My Nephew
Sis and I joked that we had the monopoly with our grandparents, 
She was Grandma's, I was Grandpa's

Morbe J. Schneidewend, age 86, was called to eternal life on Monday morning, June 4, 2012. Morbe was born in Waupaca County on December 20, 1925, son of the late Paul and Ella (Drath) Schneidewend. On June 1, 1946, he married Frances Wied in Bear Creek, and the couple celebrated 66 years together just this past Friday. As a young man he worked on a local farm, and over the years had a variety of different jobs. He delivered milk in the Clintonville area, worked at Neenah Foundry, Manhattan Rubber Company, Kimberly Clark, and retired from Stowe Woodward. Everyone will remember Morbe as a very hard working man with a great work ethic. Morbe loved to hunt and fish, and was a dedicated and faithful member of Bethel Ev. Lutheran Church in Menasha. In recent years, he loved to spend time on his porch, watching the birds and other critters at the feeder.

Morbe is survived by his wife: Frances of Neenah; six children: Sheldon (Barb) of Menasha; Rodney (Sharon) of Hortonville; Peggy (Steve) Dillenberg of Greenville; Holly of Appleton; Timothy (Paula) of Grand Chute; and Tierney (Frank) Seebantz of Arbor Vitae; twelve grandchildren, twenty-two great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild; six brothers and sisters: Leland (Florence) of Menasha; Leo and his companion Pat of Milwaukee; Gladys Reinke of Sugar Bush; Lila Knack of Maryland; Art (Caroline) of Neenah; and Paul (Ann) of Clintonville; four sisters-in-law: Valeria Fletcher of New London; Bernice Young of New London; Irene Schneidewend of Cecil; and Helen Wied of Appleton. Morbe was preceded in death by his parents, and infant son, sisters: Violet and Reverna (Robert) Beyer; brothers: Philip, Clarence (Magdalen) Eric (Pat) and Lloyd; brother-in-law: Robert Reinke, Robert Knack, Gene Fletcher, Lloyd Young, Peter (Gloria) Wied, Llewellyn Wied, and Willard (Mabel) Wied; and sisters-in-law: Shirley Schneidewend, Marion (Hank) Lindemann, Sylvia (Winfred) Knutson, and Beatrice Wied.


TICKLEBEAR June 17, 2012 at 9:47 PM  

Cherish those moments.
These memories will keep you strong.

Sincerely, mes condoleances.



Andrea Leigh June 25, 2012 at 10:49 PM  

Thank you Ticklebear ^_^

TICKLEBEAR June 26, 2012 at 1:26 AM  

the very least I could do.
I do seem to have the knack for showing up when needed. Don't be shy, I can listen. You got my email.

Anonymous February 22, 2013 at 3:21 PM  

Hello. And Bye. Thank you very much.

Anonymous February 22, 2013 at 11:36 PM  

Hello. And Bye. Thank you very much.


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