Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Grandma's Grave

I can't think of a more beautiful resting place. The grass was so green all along the way, and the tall Cottonwood tree that hoovered over the gravestone gave a good amount of shade. She is buried at the Enoch Cemetery. It was only $250 for the grave plot. Many of the people buried there were highly decorated, even having iron benches for their loved ones to sit down. Each spot was very well maintained. I felt happy. My grandma was cremated like she wanted, and her husband, Larry, made her wood box to hold her ashes. My grandmother was very religious and she loved angels. She got a nice gravestone. My Aunt Kathy picked it out.

What was my grandma like? She was a dying breed of people that came from the old school. She thought of everyone else before herself. She put her friends and family first. Even when people were cruel, she never had a mean thing to say, and never held any contempt for anyone. She had a heart of gold. She worked hard everyday, cleaning the linens and folding everything so nice. She kept her house immaculately clean. Her wood floors were mopped regularly and smelled of pine. Her counter tops were always wiped down, and her dishes were always done. Her generation was one of women that worked in the home, and she was an excellent house keeper. Her floors were vacuumed and her beds were made. There was always good food in the kitchen. She loved to cook and entertain. She loved classic movies and talking on the phone. Big crowds of people would gather together on her back porch. She was very much loved.

She always had a dog, ever since I could remember, she loved having pets. The dogs I can remember her having... Barney, an old Lab... Shotsee, an Australian Shepard... Chi-chi chihuahua... Sasha, the Yorkie... Buddy, the mutt... and her last dog I remember was Gracie, a chihuahua. After grandma died, Gracie was crying by the chair. I told everyone that was the chair where grandma used to sit and pet her. Everyone felt bad for the poor little dog. I believe Larry's family took Gracie. She was a small dog, and no trouble at all.

Grandma had a hard life. When she was a child in Portland, Oregon, she contracted polio. Polio isn't something that people are afraid of now because now there are vaccines, it's very rare that anyone in the U.S. contract polio nowadays, but back in the day, there was no vaccine, and she was one of the unfortunate ones that ended up hospitalized. She survived polio, but part of her leg and arm muscles no longer functioned. She was badly crippled the rest of her life.

Her father, William Hostetter, was part French, part Native American from Omaha, Nebraska. I'm guessing the Indian tribe is probably Sioux or Pawnee, that's most likely what he was, a half-breed of something. My Great-grandmother, Margaret Fox, was directly from Ireland, pure Irish, an immigrant, and she always said, "don't borrow trouble..." They were a very poor Irish family that borrowed everything including the money to move to America. Great Grandpa William Hostetter drove trains for the Union Pacific, and they met because Margaret Fox also worked for the railroad as a way to pay for her coming to America. My Grandma Patty was raised in a traditional family where the man was the boss. The woman's duties were the household and the children, and the man's duties were to have a career and bring home the money.

My grandmother wore glasses, had surgical scars, and wasn't very pretty as a child. She had endured a lot of criticism having polio. Her house was quarantined for polio. When she was a little girl, she did not have many friends to play with. No one was allowed around her. She developed more closeness to her pets. When she became older, she turned out to be very beautiful and friendly. She married her Navy sweetheart my Grandpa, Frank Dale McKittrick, from a German-Irish family. They had a real Catholic wedding.

By the time my grandmother was 23 years old, she already was the mother of five children. She was disabled and only had use of one arm due to her polio, and she never once filed for welfare. It is a wonder to me how a woman could raise five children with one arm. Her husband was deployed on the submarines. Every few years she switched bases and moved all across the U.S. Many of the things she did in life, she did on her own, including moving from military base to military base. When my grandfather returned from Vietnam, he had some symptoms of PTSD. Back then, they didn't have a diagnosis for the stress that military soldiers went through. They called it "shell shock." He was active in Vietnam, and returned home from war a changed person. War had left him traumatized. He turned to alcohol and became abusive to his family. They divorced in California.

Grandma spent most years of her life in San Diego, California, raising kids and grand kids. She always had ice cream at her house. There were spaghetti dinners and barbecues, and lots of fun times. She was very much a family person. She loved her kids and her grand kids. She lived to meet many of her great-grandchildren. She had a full life and a good life.

The last three years of her life, she met Larry Chynoweth. I introduced them. Larry's dog, Cola, had run to our house for scraps. I took the dog back to Larry, and discovered that his wife, Billie, had recently died. Larry was not doing well as a widow, he was extremely sad. Grandma was lonely. I thought the two of them would be happier together. Larry was a funny man. He liked jokes, had a good sense of humor, and my grandma liked to laugh. Grandma liked to cook, and Larry liked to eat. They married a few months after I introduced them, and enjoyed their golden years. They were both very thankful that I introduced them. They shared many happy years, and had many adventures.

Grandma died in a failed heart bypass surgery. The surgery went as usual until the cardiologists tried to take her off the machine that pumped her heart. Her heart failed to pump on its own. She stayed on the machine for three days, and then her vital signs started to crash, and she was dying. By the time we got to the hospital, my grandma was in a drug induced coma, and we all got a chance to hold her hand and tell her that we loved her, and "good-bye." My mom was holding her hand when she died, and my Aunt Kathy held her other hand. I think my grandma got her way. I think she wouldn't have it any other way, with her family near her at her death. Though I think she would have gone the Indian way and gone off to a field to die instead of dying in a hospital bed. Her last hour of life, everyone was around her.

After she passed, we had to go through her items. She kept oddities in the house, some needlework that her mother embroidered. They weren't riches to anyone else, but more of sentimental value. She had some costume jewelry and some nice pearls. She had gold watch, and some things that my grandpa brought her back from Vietnam. Other than that, it was typical things that she held onto over the years.  She was a great lady. There was not a dry eye at her funeral. We all missed her. It was a good day to see her grave well maintained. She would have loved it.

Thank you for reading. It was nice to share a little about her life. I hope I didn't bore you to death. It was my perspective. I guess it's that way. My mom said when she dies she wants to be cremated too. My mom wants her ashes to be dropped across the mountain property that she owns (for the record). I don't. I want to be embalmed and set in a coffin. I want a gravestone like my grandma's. I guess everyone has their own way to go. It was an emotional day. Thank you for reading.


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