Grandma Lois

My strongest memories of Grandma Lois are from our annual visits to Erie in the summer and Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving will always remind me of her. I wrote about my Thanksgiving memories last year. Our visits in the summer were filled with lots of swimming in their huge pool, eating our favorite foods and snacks, and she always had special activities planned – road trips to Sea World, the circus, parades – there was always something extra fun in store when we were there. Foods that will always remind me of her: Bacon, toast, tuna noodle casserole, 7-up and Jello.

She loved scuba diving, socializing with friends (she kept in touch with her nursing school friends her entire life), and watching professional wrestling – they even bought a satellite dish so she could watch while they traveled in the RV.

She was born May 22, 1922 in Cleveland, Ohio and died on August 27, 2015 at the age of 93. Saturday we will bury her ashes with my Grandfather who died in 1998. She was a strong woman, much stronger than I think she ever knew.

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In 2007 I wrote a letter to her and asked some questions and it took a while but eventually I received hand-written letters in return. Here are two of her responses to me in her own words.

How Did You Meet Grandpa?
In September 1940 I started nursing school in Buffalo, NY. Came home one weekend a month. One weekend in 1941 had a Blind Date…Grandpa no blind date. He was setup. Never seemed to complain though. His friend Austin and my friend Dottie were going together.

Went to a movie {Gone with the Wind} and snack in Grandpa’s 1939 coup (tight squeeze). Dot had to sit on Austin’s lap. Me-squeezed in the middle. When he took me home he leaned over and kissed me. Dot & Austin almost fell out of the car. Sunday Austin & Bill {Grandpa} called at my home. Bill offered to drive me back to Buffalo. Austin went along to keep him company on way home. Next two years Bill came down every weekend. One evening he asked me if he gave me a Ring – would I wear it.

We were married June 12, 1943.

I have never understood this picture – it looks like 3 brides to me and has always been confusing because her bridesmaids also carried large bouquets and wore veils. Grandma is second from the left in the photo and Grandpa is in the middle on her left.

My Grandfather was in the Navy and went to Hawaii in 1944. My Grandmother stayed with her parents until he returned a few years later.

In August 1949 my Aunt and Uncle were born and just 14 months later my Dad joined the family. At the time that I was writing to her I was a working mom with only one child and I had full time daycare and normal working hours. I couldn’t understand how she managed with 3 little ones and the nursing hours.


What was it like to be a working mom?
Went back to work 11pm-7am. Had a sitter. Lovely lady 35 years old. Never worked but liked children. Paid her for 4 hours. I slept 3 hours. Picked her up and took her home. Had her for 11 years.

Then I went 7am-3:30pm in the operating room. Bill worked 3pm-11:30pm. She worked when needed. When the children were about 11 and 10, they informed me – no sitter was needed.

I loved my work in the OR. In 1984 hospital decided to cut down expenses. Everyone (entire hospital) age 60 were automatically retired last day of August 1984. I was 62 years old.

She volunteered at clinics and traveled with the county nurses to give flu and pneumonia shots. She continued volunteering into her 80s. She loved her work. She had two older sisters but she never knew one of them. Dorothy died in the 1918 Flu epidemic – I wonder if that is one of the reasons for her volunteer work.

She and my Grandpa bought an RV and traveled around the country and eventually settled in Florida for winters and retuned to Erie in the spring. My Grandfather died in Florida in 1998. She traveled a bit longer and then sold the small house where she and my Grandfather had raised their family and became a permanent Florida resident. She had a good support network and was in good health. (Picture taken 1 year before my Grandpa died)


When Juliana was two we went to Disney World and made a visit to see Grandma as well. Juliana was in a bad mood that day and had no interest in sitting nice for pictures but my Grandma didn’t care, she was so happy to meet Juliana.


I don’t think that anyone was more delighted than her when we announced that we were expecting twins. She had always hoped that the twins would continue in the family. She met the boys shortly before their first birthday at my cousin’s wedding. Her face lit up when she watched them crawl around outside; and for the rest of the day, one of the boys was in her arms.

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She spent some time in Pittsburgh that summer recovering from a fall and the children got to spend more time with her.

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She was never quite the same after the injury, but she continued to live on her own until after her 90th birthday. She lived a long, very full life and she will be missed.


3 comments to Grandma Lois

  • hello haha narf

    lovely tribute to your gram.
    love to you and your family.

  • Julie Oldach

    Jen, you outdid yourself. Beautiful pictures and I loved your sharing. She certainly seemed delighted with the twins. I always loved her. She was so good to me especially when Ray died so suddenly. So generous with her time & meals & made sure they had a lovely Christmas. What a gal! I wanna be like her. Thanks for doing that. I love you. GRAMA JULIE

  • This was absolutely beautiful. Your gram sounds like she led quite a life and I’m glad you were able to learn more about it before she passed.