‘Til Death Do Us Part

On Thursday morning we packed up our family and everything but the kitchen sink and left for Wisconsin to see my baby brother get married. It was the most beautiful wedding I have ever witnessed. Missy and Garrett are so obviously in love and happy and thankful to be together. They kept thanking everyone for being there and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who felt honored to share in their special day. cwvDm9asA_Lw9YsGTQNy8vWrdsA cwvDm9asA3Lw9at2wfl5esWDJp4 cwvDm9asA3Lw9at2wfl5esWDJp4-1 cwvDm9asA3Lw9at2wfl5esWDJp4-2 cwvDm9asA3Lw9at2wfl5esWDJp4-3 cwvDm9asA3Lw9at2wfl5esWDJp4-4



More photos to come!

This weekend I also  lost my beautiful Grandma B. Grandma lived far away most of my childhood, but moved to the midwest after my wedding about 4 years ago. I began to know her and have a very different relationship with her as an adult and as a mother in the past two years that I have had the joy of living close by.

The main memories I have of Grandma B. during my childhood were at the Lake. Stories of “rellies” (relatives) and potlucks and campfires and ghost in the graveyard and in the early days going to get water from the pump fill my head as I look at this picture of our family cottage.


No matter what time our family  had arrived the night before, I was always the first one up. I would come down the stairs from the loft and find Grandma humming in the kitchen fixing something like toast. She would say something like, “Good morning dearest!” and give me a big hug and a big kiss and ask if I wanted some. 🙂 Grandma was so happy at the lake. She would talk about her plans for the day and ask me when I was going to go for my first “dip” (in the lake).

Throughout the years, Grandma was a gracious host as I delighted in sharing the lake in all it’s glory (it seriously is the most wonderful place on earth to me) with my closest friends. She would say “Isn’t it wonderful” and roll her eyes if they didn’t respond with the enthusiasm that she and I possessed. (Only one person did!)


Grandma was the only person who understood when I cried every year when it was time to go home. She would say “It will be here next year.”  I can honestly hear her voice saying that in a sweet, gentle, singsongy way.


It will be there next year, but she won’t. My memories and love of the lake are built around it’s beauty and my love for the land, but more so around the people that introduced me to it and helped me make sweet memories there. As years have gone by, I’ve been saddened with news of cousins and aunt’s and uncles that wouldn’t be there any more and I’ve thought,” I don’t know if I could stand to be here without Grandma.”

The last time I was at the lake with Grandma was  six years ago. She was “aging” according to others, but she was spunky as ever. I was entering my last year of college and John had just graduated. He was meeting me there after his internship in Milwaukee.

Grandma kept asking me when we were getting married and I kept telling her we weren’t even engaged! She kept insisting that I was thinking way to much about it and if I loved him we should call ourselves engaged and get married.

To Grandma (and my) deep delight, John had plans to propose. He sent me, my mom and my two grandma’s out for a shopping trip. Jackson, my brother’s leader dog came too and I chauffeured  them around the bay in the back seat of my jimmy while they commented the whole time that I was too young to drive.

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We stopped first at “Drink Coffee” in Sister Bay and Jackson licked crumbs off the floor while we drank coffee and laughed and talked. It is a perfect memory.

When we arrived back at the cottage, I was instructed to get ready for a date.  Since John had been fishing all day, I assumed this was to make up for ditching me to hang out with my brother, which happened from time to time.

He took me to Al Johnson’s because he wanted to see the goats on the roof and it was crowded as always. We ate with butts all around us and laughed about it the whole time.

He drove us back to the lake and we started hiking up the cliffs to my favorite spot overlooking the bay. There were roses waiting at the top, two wine glasses and a guitar. I was hopelessly class-less when he asked as I was ugly crying and shaking out of pure joy and excitement but thankfully he didn’t change his mind.

We ran down the bluff as fast as we could to go tell everyone. I insisted he go back for his things later. When we arrived, my parents had gone somewhere and the only people there were my Grandma B. and dear Aunt Sigrid. We burst in the door and I tried to wait until my parents were there to say anything, but I couldn’t hide the sparkle from Aunt Sig.

As soon as the cat was out of the bag Grandma ran around in a funny little panic looking for the dinner bell so she could ring for my dad and mom to tell them “The kid’s are engaged!”


She rang that funny bell as she called out across the bay at 10pm, “Brule, Lisa! The kid’s are engaged!”

. Somehow everyone but my parents managed to hear the news. They came back a half hour later and were scolded several times for “running off” when the “kid’s were engaged,” despite the excuse that they didn’t know! 🙂

Once everyone was in their rightful spots, Grandma settled down to tell us the story of her engagement. The way she told the story was that they were at a restaurant talking about their future and how old they were getting and how she wanted kids eventually and he said, “Well, should we get married?”


And she said,” Well, sure!” And that was that.

That’s the way she told it.

And they were for 58 years.

“‘Til death do us part…”

My last visit with the two of them was delightful. We laughed and talked about Afton, and Garrett and Missy and the wedding. They forgave me for not bringing Afton with me when I told them that I had an afternoon to myself and I just wanted to spend it with them.

This coming Monday I realized I have the day off and I’ve already paid for child care. The first thing that came to mind was that I could go see Grandma. I’m guessing this is the first of many moments when that pain in my gut reminds me that those days have come to an end. So tonight I decided to recall the wonderful times we’ve had and the many laughs we’ve shared because that’s as close as I’ll get to a visit with Grandma. She would have liked that and I can almost hear her laugh about the way she rang that dinner bell. 🙂


3 thoughts on “‘Til Death Do Us Part

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