[Note: on the back of this old photo, in my grandma’s handwriting is written: Dad is pulling the string on the old Brownie (camera) and is wearing the usual worried expression – wondering if the thing will collapse!]
Emily Krautman Chamberlain | born February 29, 1904 (a leap year) | entered the gates August 31, 1983
Daughter of Lucy and Charles Krautman
Sister of Lucy, Lydia, Elsie, and Charlotte
Married to Harold P Chamberlain
Mother of Hal and Ruth
Grandma to Peggy and Susan
and numerous great, great-great, and great-great-great grandchildren.
A woman of excellence.
Where do I begin? I began this story three weeks ago here and today I’m ready to share more about this woman, Emily, who had a huge impact on my life. She was a woman of extreme faith, tolerance, patience, kindness, love, and at times intensely in-your-face honesty – you can read about that here. And, there were times she overlooked things that needed being said, read about that here. Today, I want to share some stories – more for legacy sake than anything else. I want our grandchildren and their children to know what kind of “stock” they come from – I want them to know that when the going got rough? Grandma Emily kept going – working through extreme grief and heartache…but wait, pull up a chair and let me share a story about this extraordinary woman.
The year was 1948. The war was over. Emily’s son, Hal, had served in the US Navy and was married to my mother, Teresa, and they had one baby girl, Peggy. Emily’s daughter, Ruth, was married to Ellsworth and life was beginning to return to a peaceful, post-war normalcy. Ruthie, as she was lovingly called, was pregnant with their first baby – he was born in her 7th month – he had extreme deformities and died almost immediately. Sorrow moved in.
Then, a year or two later Ruthie was pregnant and great hopes were reborn. This little guy was still-born in the 8th month. In came sorrow again.
In the meantime, Teresa had another baby girl in October 1950 – that baby was ME! Ruthie became ill – although everyone thought she was grief-stricken sick. But it was so much more than that and in September of 1951, Ruthie passed away. Family stories are not quite clear on what claimed her life. Sorrow came to stay.
Emily went into a deep, deep depression. So deep, no one or nothing could reach her.
My grandfather, a tender man, bought Emily a kiln – she had always dabbled in ceramics but would go to a studio to work. Grandpa thought if she had a kiln and a room she would pick up the craft once again. Grandpa was so wise because that’s exactly what Emily did. Every day for four years she entered her own ceramic studio, adjacent to their home, and absorbed herself into clay, molds, glazing, and painting. Teresa, now with a 5-year old and a 1-year old, would push the stroller along a gravel road for two miles, every single day, and sit with her mother-in-love. That ceramic studio was papered with anguish, prayers, sorrowful laments, and eventually healing.
Then in 1955, Grandpa had a massive heart attack, and was immediately retired from his work. Grandpa and Grandma Emily moved to South Florida. Eventually, Hal, Teresa, Peggy, and I moved too.
Florida was a soothing, healing balm for Grandma and Grandpa. They enjoyed their retirement to the fullest. They gardened and served in ministry and loved on their two granddaughters.
Here are some fun quirks and quips about Grandma Emily!
- Always had a craft interest. Paint-by-number. Egg-shell mosaics. Dolls. Doll clothes. Needlework. Wire crafts. I believe I get my craftiness and love for crafts from Grandma Em!
- They loved to fish and went out deep sea fishing often. One day, they caught a Bonita fish and were told to throw it back because they were poisonous. Grandpa took it home, filet’d it, cooked it and when they sat down to eat they kissed each other good-bye in case it killed them. It didn’t.
- The two of them went to Lake Worth beach, every single day, and swam.
- Grandma would play the organ and Grandpa accompanied her in his beautiful baritone singing voice – always hymns.
- Grandma loved Christmas and one year was so excited to serve parfaits in her new stemware to the family. We always gathered on Christmas Eve for a big meal at their home. Dessert was served and her Parfaits, consisting of vanilla ice cream layered with red and green Creme de Menthe was served. It was delicious. After everyone scarfed down the last drop of the dessert a jovial, comical mood overcame everyone, Grandpa asked, “MOM WHAT WAS IN THAT ICE CREAM?” Just some liqueur I picked up at Walgreen’s. “In the liquor store of Walgreen’s?” Yes, it was so pretty, red and green. “Mom, you can’t be feeding that to these little girls!!!” Oh Harold, it hasn’t hurt them one bit.
Enough said, right?
- Grandma was full of wisdom. She taught me a beautiful lesson in grace. You can read that here.
- Loved to play games. We played Yahtzee and Scrabble all.the.time.
- Loved to “take a risk.” Okay, now don’t judge! Grandma went to the dog track; however, Grandpa would not drive her “onto the property” so he would drop her off at the entrance and make her walk AND that’s where he’d pick her up two hours later. Yes, she would bet on the races. No, she never took more than $20 with her. She loved to watch the dogs race and she loved the excitement of winning!
- On their 50th wedding anniversary they went on a cruise. Each night as they walked to the dining hall they passed the ship’s casino. Each night Grandma would look at the doors and Grandpa would just take her arm and lead on! The last night of the cruise they began their walk to dinner and as they approached the Casino Grandpa put a weighty little velvet drawstring bag in Grandma’s hand and said, “I don’t want to know what you do with these quarters nor do I want to know where you are for the next hour – I will be waiting for you at our table!” Now, that is true love!
- She prayed every day for her granddaughters and their children. Lord, keep them from the evil one and sanctify them with Your Truth – Your Word is Truth.” (from John 17)
The life and times of Grandma Emily Chamberlain – there are so many more stories and tales to tell but this is a good beginning. Thank you for reading!
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