Happy Birthday, Grandma!

     Yesterday, my maternal grandmother Alvina M. Ellis nee Mosblech would have been 100 years old.  Born in St. Louis, Missouri on May 15, 1916, Grandma was the seventh of fourteen children.  She married an only child in 1938 and they would have two children, my mom and Aunt Maureen.

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Grandma Ellis celebrating her birthday at Lake Tishomingo

     Grandma had a big influence on my sisters and me because she and my grandfather Gilbert Ellis lived within a mile of our house on Osceola Street.  Grandpa bought a lot at Lake Tishomingo in 1976, which allowed the whole family to get together on Sundays.

     However, Grandma exerted her biggest influence on my sisters and me, when Mom went back to work in 1980.  Alcoholism was breaking up my parents marriage, so Mom went back to work and Grandma started babysitting my two younger sisters and me.

     I was eleven years old and aware how alcohol was affecting my father.  Knowing the marriage could not last much longer, I began to act out my anger and frustration.  If it was not for Grandma, I truly believe I would have become a juvenile delinquent.

     Grandma was not having that.  I know it was a hard six months for her.  She never raised a hand to us before and now had to discipline an angry preteen.  I always say Grandma was the first martial artist in the family.  She could wield a flyswatter like a samurai warrior.   After about six months, she had me back in line.  I stopped getting in trouble at school and my grades came back up.

     My sister Sheri frequently told me growing up that she would not submit to peer pressure and do things she knew Grandma wouldn’t approve of.  She thought about what Grandma would say if she knew and it stopped her from going along with the crowd.

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Grandma and Grandpa During a Trip to the Lake in the Fall, Most Likely a Leaf Raking Day

     Grandma enjoyed spending time with Grandpa.  Unlike some couples, who become strangers over the years, you could see Grandma and Grandpa developed a deeper relationship as the years went by.  They both said the other was their best friend.  And if you disrespected Grandma, you better give your soul to the Lord because your backside belonged to Grandpa.

     Grandma was an introvert and comfortable in the background supporting everyone.  When she was the center of attention like her birthday, she was never completely comfortable.  Growing up in a patriarchal household with 13 siblings may have led Grandma to be more comfortable outside of the spotlight.

     We lost Grandma on February 12, 1991, a few months shy of her 75th birthday.  She and Grandpa were married a little over 52 years.  Her loss devastated the family, particularly my grandfather.  Her death brought the strongest man I’ve ever known to his knees.

     A friend and former pastor spends more time than he would like at funerals.  He always said he can tell what a person invested in by the reaction of the family at the funeral.  Are they grieving their loved ones or is their focus on stuff?  No one cared about stuff at Grandma’s funeral.  We all missed her.  Despite the passage of 25 years, we still have a hole in the family that has never been healed.

     From your children, 9 grandchildren and too many great grandchildren to count, thank you, Grandma.  You’ll always be missed.

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