I received word while on vacation in Mexico that Granny had passed away late on December 22. This came as little surprise, as I had been updated for weeks on her rapidly deteriorating health by aunt Patra who had been spending most days at Granny’s bedside.
Today is her funeral in Huron, SD, and though I would have liked to have been there with the rest of the family, trying to find airfare from Austin to Sioux Falls during the holidays at the last minute was far too expensive, not to mention I just got back from international travel and the weather in South Dakota was supposed to get ugly. So instead, I thought I’d better give Granny a proper blog send-off and try to recall a few stories and memories. After all, I did live next-door to her for the first 15 years of my life. I attempted to keep this short, but Granny had so many eccentricities that it simply wouldn’t have done her memory justice to just say the usual eulogy stuff.
Cleo Lila (Froke) Glanzer, my grandmother, was known in the family simply as Granny. I think we got that nickname from Sesame Street, as there was a character named Granny Fanny Nesselroad (though we must have gotten that from Mom or possibly a book, as we didn’t even get PBS, let alone 70s episodes of Sesame Street). Our grandpa was known as Grandpa Dick, and the other grandparents were Grandma Bell and Grandpa Bell. But Granny was always Granny.
I grew up living mere feet away from Granny. First, she and Grandpa Dick were in the big farm house while our family was next door in the trailer house. In 1989, we ran out of room with 3 kids and switched houses. About that time Grandpa Dick passed away, and Granny was left alone in the trailer house where she would live until the fall of 1997. But still, for the first 15 years of my life, Granny was always very, very close by. I may not know Granny as well as my dad or aunt or possibly some of her other family, but from 1982 to 1997 I doubt anyone spent more total time alongside Granny than me.
Granny was a very unique individual, and probably didn’t fit the mold of your prototypical grandmother. I think a good way to describe her was a big kid. She ate mostly candy, she liked children’s word games, and she didn’t seem to care too much if us grandkids were misbehaving. And we were little shits around her a fair amount of the time.
Granny loved candy more than anyone I ever knew, and received a fair amount of her daily caloric intake on Little Debbie cakes. Every holiday, or any occasion really, was highlighted by boxes of Little Debbie cakes scattered across a table. From Zebra Cakes to Fudge Rounds, there was rarely an occasion that didn’t call for Granny providing Debbie snacks. In her defense, Little Debbie treats were pretty good, and I myself ate nothing but Debbie cakes for many lunches in high school.
In the mid-90s, Granny’s highlight of the day used to be driving up to the Carpenter Cafe and waiting for the school bus to come through town in the afternoon. Jordan, Alex, and I were always eager to hop off the bus and ride home with Granny because our house was at the end of the route and staying on the bus meant another 45 minutes of bumpy riding through the country. Plus, getting off at Carpenter meant a pop and candy free-for-all on Granny’s tab. The only limit was to how much we could carry.
Granny was very quotable and had lots of memorable sayings and phrases she liked to recite. “Putt’n’er.” “Jeepdus Cripes.” “Man alive.” “Pink is for girls and blue is for boys, and red and green are Christmas colors” she would tell us frequently. In the 80s she nearly daily was caught saying “your back is bare” and she rhythmically chanted “put on your shoes, and your socks, and we’ll go, out, side, and, swing.” She often started sentences or thoughts with an emphatic “By God.” “By God you kids play nice.” She also liked to recite the days of the week, or months of the year, and remark how fast the time was going. “Heck, it’s April already. Then comes May, then comes June, then July. Heck almost August and then school starts again. Man alive.” She also continuously told Dad and Patra that they worked far too hard and needed to rest.
Granny was also known as a very slow/cautious driver; I once strapped one of those orange triangle “slow moving vehicle” signs to her Blazer as a joke. She read her Bible every day, she liked to sip coffee, she preferred fans to AC, and typically had a TV on, though she preferred the volume to be very low, if not completely off. She would watch the news with the volume off and no captioning; I guess she just liked to have something going on in the background. She thoroughly enjoyed watching shows with us in the mornings while Mom was out hauling mail and Dad was in the field, especially The Price Is Right. Granny was the only one in the family who encouraged prayer; whenever she watched us kids at night she always made us say a bedtime prayer.
Granny had plenty of strong dislikes as well. She hated all sports, all of which she referred to simply as “ball”. If I had a sporting event of any kind on TV she would scoff and say “turn that damn ball off.” She never explained why, but anything beyond throwing a regular ball to one another didn’t set well with her. She also thought very little of drinking, smoking, and all non-Christian music. She was unwilling to adapt to modern technology and use a computer, but was very impressed that us kids knew how to use them.
In retirement, Granny had no ambition to travel. In fact she was just the opposite and strongly preferred to not get very far from the Huron area. I can only think of one time in my lifetime where she would have left South Dakota at all, and that was a short bus trip to Iowa. When I called to interview her for my blog a few years ago she seemed rather fed up with Huron’s lack of things to do, but it sounded like she just needed some companionship. Moving into an assisted living center no doubt helped cure some boredom.
After I started college, I saw very little of Granny. Perhaps Patra and Lee would drive her out to the farm for a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, but at best I saw her 2-3 times per year. She may have come to Madison to see me in a play once, but again, not very often. That continued up until the time we moved to Texas, and I saw Granny a grand total of two times in these last 4 1/2 years. I was home in November and didn’t go visit her in Miller, not realizing at the time how close to the end she was. So I guess the final time I saw her was November of 2014.
There are countless Granny stories that weren’t mentioned here. Some really, really funny ones that are better told in person. I could tell of the time she showed off a bruise on her butt at a birthday party, or the time a wind-up duck got stuck in her hair, or the time she sneezed her dentures out under an oven. I am sure between me, Jordan, Alex, and Katie, those Granny stories will live on for many more generations.
Of course Granny will be missed by all, though the Granny that I grew up knowing had been gone for quite a while already with her dwindling memory and health. And so, in lieu of attending the funeral, I’ll do a word search puzzle and snack on a Swiss Cake Roll today. RIP Granny.