Friday, February 1, 2013


I started this post with the intention of writing down everything I could remember about my Grandma, who passed away a little over a week ago. I sat down, and I typed and typed, and then I realized there's some things that I'm not going to forget anytime soon, and I wanted to just keep those memories as my own. I did, however, learn some things about her life at the funeral, and I wanted to commit them to my memory. I remember things better if I write them down, and these are just some things about her that I don't want to forget.

Something you have to understand about the Madsen's is that they (ok, we) are stubborn. Usually once we have our minds made up, there's no changing them or swaying our opinions. Any attempt to do so is a waste of time and energy. My Dad says that this "Madsen-ness" lessens with each generation, so maybe my grandchildren will be easy going. I doubt it though. :)
Madsen's are also very...particular. Some might call it fussy, some call it demanding. You could also go with selective or persnickety, it doesn't matter, the point is: we know what we want. This aspect I can see in my Dad and especially my Grandparents. My Dad won't eat food that is the slightest bit too warm or too cold. He likes his hot stuff scalding, and his drinks to be frosty cold. My Grandparents are the same way in ensuring their wants. My Grandma has been planning her own funeral for almost as long as I can remember, so much was the desire to have it the way she wanted it. She knew what songs people were going to play/sing, who was to speak and on what topic. And she reminded them of their assignments. I think my poor sister Saralyn has been reminded every time she visited of what song she was supposed to play for the last 15 years. Every. time.
Madsen's are also very frank. They don't mince words or sugar coat anything, they'll just tell it like it is and leave it up to you to be offended or not. For example, back in my Dad's post-divorce days, one day he was told by my Grandma that there was a singles dance at the Church, and he was to go there and "find a mother for those girls," meaning my 3 older sisters. So he did, due to that whole "arguing with a Madsen is a waste of time and energy" thing. It was at this dance that he met my Mom. Without her, I may not have existed.
Something I had totally forgotten about my Grandma was that she drowned when she was 2, and pronounced dead. She had been walking along a creek and fell in, and when they got to her she wasn't breathing. They covered her up with a blanket, but my great grandma thought she saw her little toe twitch, so she started to work on her again and she eventually revived my grandma. What they think happened was she went into some kind of hypothermic shock, preserving the integrity of her brain and organs. She suffered no long term effects of her near-death experience. Also, she fell into the creek because she was spooked by a snake, and thus was born a lifelong fear of snakes. So much so, that her children weren't even allowed to say   the word "snake." They referred to them as long, slithery things or would spell it. My Dad says he has a very early memory of him sitting in his high chair, eating scrambled eggs, and a snake slithered in from the back porch. My Grandma screamed and ran out of the house, leaving my Dad to fend for himself. :) She returned soon after with her father in law (I think that's who she went and got) and the snake was found and killed several times over, for good measure.
She grew up in the same tiny town as my Grandpa, but she said they "met" at a dance when he was 13 and she was 12. The school was trying to teach my Grandpa's grade a dance, but there weren't enough girls for all the boys, so some girls from the younger grade were recruited. She was the tallest (ironically, we Madsen's aren't known for our height) and he asked her to dance. The next Sunday he sat next to her in Church. The Bishop announced over the pulpit something like, "And if Vance could tear himself away from Joyce long enough to come pass the Sacrament, that'd be great," and so he did. My Grandma said she felt mortified, and was sure he'd never sit by her in Church again. But when he was done, he sat with her, and he did so every Sunday for the next 73 years.
When they were younger, my Grandpa gave my Grandma a Valentine. He gave her one every year from the year that he met her, and my Grandma once said Valentine's Day was just as important as her anniversary to her, because of those cards. I don't know if she kept all of them, but she kept the first. My aunt has it, and she let me take a picture.

I think this may be the sweetest thing I've ever seen. Totally blows all that crap on Pinterest right out of the water. 
My grandparents were married very young, she was 17, he was 19. They were married for 68 years. They had 5 children. One son died as a result of a car accident, he was married and had a very young son himself. They lost one more child, an infant who lived for only a day. When we were at the cemetery, I looked at those two headstones so close to my grandparents' and thought of just how happy she must be to see her two sons again. It was a peaceful thought.
Those memories of my grandparents aren't really mine, they're stories that other people have told me. Some of the memories that I, myself, have of my Grandma I think are special just because they're mine. This will come out disjointed, because that's how my memory works, but I'll try and go chronologically. 
My Grandma lived in 2 houses when we would visit. There was the Pocatello house, and the house in Bloomington where my Grandpa grew up. They lived mostly in the Pocatello house until I was somewhere in my teens, when they sold that house and lived in Bloomington and bought a condo in Mesquite. I LOVED the Pocatello house. I remember telling people it was like a castle, and it seemed massive to me. I don't know if it really was as big as I remember it being, but I loved it anyway. 
I remember when I was about 8, my parents left me with my grandma, probably just for a few hours. I don't remember where my other siblings were or where my parents went, but while they were gone, Grandma and my aunt Marilee took me to get my ears pierced. I was a little scared, but the lady gave me a teddy bear to hold and Marilee bought me a oreo milkshake and told me I could have a bite after each ear if I was good. So I was good, and I got my ice cream and we went back to my grandma's house, but with me wearing earrings. I was very excited about them, they were gold stars with a little pink jewel in the middle. I still remember the look on my mom's face when she came back to get me. See, my Grandma didn't actually ask my Mom about getting my ears pierced. She just took me. I don't think my Mom was very happy about it, but she didn't yell or even get mad. This astounds me, I'm sure that if I left one of my children with my mother in law and came back to find she'd put holes in their bodies without checking with me first, I would be LIVID. My Mom let me keep the studs in though, and I still have my ears pierced, thanks to my Grandma. :)
My grandparents like to play a game called Chicken foot. You play it with dominoes and it's easy enough that little kids can play it too. Brett and I visited one night and we stayed up pretty late playing chicken foot and being stuffed with popcorn and lemonade. When my grandparents give you something to eat, you don't refuse, you just eat it, no matter how full you are. I don't know how much we ate, but it was a lot. Whenever our popcorn bowls started getting low, they'd be filled up.  
Then there was the raspberry picking. Their house is in Bear Lake, of course they have raspberry bushes! Rows and rows of them. We picked lots of raspberries growing up. And ate them whilst picking. One time I brought Jason along with me, he was less than a year old and still crawling. Grandma tried to wrangle him away from the bushes so he wouldn't eat so many raspberries that he'd get sick, but finally she gave up and he just sat next to her with all the jars of picked berries and helped himself. He loved sitting by her. 
Grandma always had a candy dish out. There were usually M&M's in one bowl, Jolly Ranchers behind that, and Werther's in the living room. I think I got her sweet tooth. 
I'm sure this post is a little disjointed, and really I don't care if anyone reads it, it's mostly for me. Later next week I'll write more about what we are up to, perhaps I will dazzle you all with my amazing flight stories. 

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