Saturday, April 6, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Grandma

My last living grandparent died this week, and although I have a lot of fond memories, I regret that I did not really know her like I wish I could have.

When I was younger, we would drive to Jerseyville every weekend for a family dinner of spaghetti, crackers and butter, homemade pickles, olives and some sort of dessert (I remember the crumbly sugar cookies especially fondly). The spaghetti was always the big kind, none of that thin or angel hair stuff, and the sauce was mostly tomato juice with hamburger, almost more like a soup than a pasta. It wasn't anything like my mom or dad made at home, but it was something special unto itself. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and my cousins' children would crowd through the kitchen, coming and going throughout the morning to fill their plates, eat, visit and then go, but it was always an event.

We would go to church in Jerseyville on Saturday nights so we could have dinner with Grandma and my Great Aunt Toad. Sometimes we would eat at Hardee's and Grandpa, like the loner he was, would go through the Hardee's drive-thru to get his food and eat it at home alone. ;) Still, I always enjoyed the time with Grandma and Toad. They were inseparable, up until the very end.

My mom being the eighth of 10 children, my grandma and grandpa were older than the grandparents of most kids my age, and living outside of Jerseyville, my family wasn't around as much as the others. Although she and Toad came to visit fairly often when I was young, I never learned much her past or her personality, although I knew she was a devout Catholic and that family meant the world to her. Recently, I thumbed through a couple of her scrapbooks, and admired how she clipped and kept every article and picture concerning not only her family, but also their friends and the people she knew. She kept a bulletin board with all of our pictures on it, and it was always growing and changing as the family did.

Clockwise from left, me, Grandma, Toad and James celebrating Great Grandma Horn's birthday at our home in Godfrey
Grandma and Grandpa's Gang bulletin board in my Grandma Wittman's home in Jerseyville
Memories from a jar the family put together for Mother's Day 2002
Sometimes I wonder in what ways I'm like her, and unlike her. People, even ones I'd never met before, always told me my mom and I looked just like my grandma, and I still carry that around quite proudly. I always joke that at least I know what I'll look like if I make it to my 90s. One time, when I tried to learn to play the fiddle, someone told me she once played. It felt nice to have something in common with her that I didn't even know about. I sure as heck can't cook like her though, so luckily, my cousin Lisa has picked up her pickle recipe, my cousin Amy her spaghetti tradition, and my mother her famous, crumbly sugar cookies. In many ways, in all of us, I guess she still lives on.

Grandma and Toad
Grandma Wittman
Grandma with her daughters (in back, left to right) Helen, Hope, Minette (my mom), Becky and Bonnie at the Amy Wittman (my cousin) Golf Classic years ago
Grandma Wittman

Grandma, mom, and me
The visitation and funeral are tomorrow and Monday, and although they'll be sad, I look forward to hearing everyone's memories and getting to know her a little better.

If I could say one two things to my Grandma today, they would be: I'm sorry I hid from you and Toad that time you came to watch me and James after dad had his heart attack and was in the hospital (I was just scared, and it had nothing to do with you), and, I love you and will miss you.

Mayme Wittman 
Mary Ann "Mayme" Wittman, 92, died peacefully at 7 a.m., Thursday, April 4, 2013, at her residence.
She was born in Jersey County on Aug. 15, 1920, she was one of three children born to the late George Phillip and Bertha (Steckel) Horn.
She graduated from Jersey Township High School, and worked at the International Shoe Factory in Jerseyville prior to her marriage.
Mayme married Carl John Wittman on Dec. 30, 1940, at the Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Jerseyville, and together they were blessed with ten children and 63 years together before his death on Oct. 18, 2003.
Mayme was the backbone of her family, and instilled in them her devotion to the Catholic religion. She led a quiet life guided by prayer, and loved to entertain to entire family with the Sunday dinner.
She was very active in the community and volunteered for many church functions and charitable events many times with her sister, Toad, at her side.
Surviving are her ten children and their spouses, George "Butch" Wittman, Jerry and Kathy Wittman, Becky and Lewie Miles, Helen and Ronald Medford, Neal and Cindy Wittman all of Jerseyville, Hope and Randy Gibson of Alton, Bonnie and Wayne Seehausen of Jerseyville, Minette and Bob Griffith of Godfrey, Vincent and Kay Wittman, and Gene and Jackie Wittman all of Jerseyville; 26 Grandchildren; 45 great-grandchildren; a sister, Florence "Toad" Erwin of Jerseyville; a special niece and her husband, Judy and Bob Smith of Jerseyville; sisters-in-law, Catherine "Sis" Gray, Jackie Wittman, Gerry Wittman and Martha Wittman.
In addition to her parents, and husband, she was preceded in death by a daughter in law, Margaret Wittman; a grandson, William C. "Bill" Seehausen; a great-grandson, Mark Wittman; a brother, Father Cornelius Horn; and a nephew, Thomas Erwin.
Visitation will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Sunday, April 7, 2013, at the Crawford Funeral Home in Jerseyville. A Mass of Christian Burial will take place at 10 a.m. Monday at the Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Jerseyville, with Father William Hembrow officiating. Burial will take place at the St. Francis Xavier Cemetery in Jerseyville.
Memorials may be given to the St. Francis/Holy Ghost Catholic Schools of Jerseyville or in honor of Mayme's devotion to others, do a random act of kindness of someone in need.

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