Gramma Lil

I found another writing I thought I’d share… Just for a bit of background info: My mom’s mother was Helga. After she died, Grampa married her little sister, Lil. They had been great friends and wanted to care for each other. They got married at our family reunion when I was 12 and she was quickly Gramma Lil to all of us.

This is what I shared at Gramma Lil’s funeral. It’s interesting to read now after some of the things I’ve written about just recently, before I found this.


My mom and Gramma Lil

I have struggled this week as I’ve been unsuccessfully explaining to my co-workers what a wonderful woman Gramma Lil was. I have also struggled with the task of putting it down on paper. I have struggled because it is difficult to express with words. Her spirit was unique and not something that can be explained. I was priveleged enough to experience it. [Read more…]

The Wood Shop

Rushmore Bradley Barnes
My Grandpa (my Mom’s dad) had a work shop in his basement. He was a remarkably skilled carpenter by trade, but created many things as a hobby as well. He was a gruff man, but lovable in his own way. And I got along well with him, so I think I missed most of the personality problems! He had prostate cancer while I was in my freshman year in college. He was having complications from the cancer, and spent some time at a clinic specializing in lymphodema in December and January of that time. Because they were away from home, my Gramma needed some help lifting the wheelchair in and out of the car and driving and things. I was privileged to be able to spend two of my weeks of Christmas vacation with them that year. That is time I’ll never regret. I felt pretty strongly when I drove away at the end of that time that it was our last good bye. He died less than a week later.

When I was up there for Christmas that year, I went down to his wood shop and wrote this. He never got back down there.


The Wood Shop

The Wood ShopThe lights still turn on, the radio still sings,
the clock still ticks, the phone still rings.

The saw still severs, the machines still hum,
the hammer still nails, the drill presses on.

His handwriting is here, his smell is too.
His spirit is here in his handcrafted “I Love You.”

His ruggedness is here, it’s seen loud and clear,

his masked gentleness whispers right here in my ear.

He left himself here in his ticking clock,
the pictures, the tools – the list never stops –

the flag in the corner, his tool belt on the hook.

He seemed to reauthor the construction book.

The nails are unused, the hat is still hung,
the table is dusty, but his song is still sung.

It’s a song of skill, of simple perfection,

the evidence is here, it need not be questioned.

The spark in his eyes, the strength in his touch,
the way he said “Be good for me.” It meant so much.

I wish he still said it, but I’ll have to remember,

because the wood shop was closed when he left in December.

by Melissa (Magee) Crabtree
December 1993

Just a note, I’m not putting this here because it’s publishable writing! I was a young 18. But I knew my family would enjoy reading it and remembering.