Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Marian Lucille Krumich

"When I think about rain, I think about singing.
When I think about singing it's a heavenly tune.
When I think about heaven then I think about angels.
When I think about angels, I think about you."
Marian Lucille Krumich
February 2, 1926-April 29, 2016

She brought 90 years of laughter, music, and love into this world.
Heaven gained a beautiful angel.

Our family just said goodbye to the matriarch of our family. In recent months, she spoke about how she's not afraid to die. She was ready to be with her husband, my grandpa. She was ready for heaven.

Julie, Grandma, Me- 1987?
When I was in college, I made her a card for her birthday and included the lyrics above on the cover. She was so tickled by it and went on and on about how much she loved it, sharing it with everyone. I don't know if she ever heard the song, but it's always been a song I've associated with her. There are many. But she loved angels, even had a collection of them, and she was an angel to so many.

I feel so fortunate to have spent every summer of my childhood down the road from her. Spending at least two days of each week sharing meals, swimming in the river, picking blueberries, sitting around a campfire, and the list goes on. Though we always lived states away, my siblings and I had the gift of being very close to our grandparents. We have our parents to thank for that, but also our grandparents for making an effort to come to the big events in our lives and they made the trek to our house every Thanksgiving. We'd go to there's the day after Christmas every year, too.

This may be one of the hardest and most dynamic posts I've every had to write because there are so many things that will remind me of Grandma. So many things that will make me smile, laugh, and cry. This post won't be the same after I first publish it because I will have to add things as the days, weeks, and months go on. My grandparents lived full, long lives and my twenty-nine years with grandma hold many memories. For this, I am so very grateful.

My grandparents lived in a heavily wooded ten-acre lot and my grandpa cleared paths all through the woods with his gravely. He'd clear them, but I don't recall him walking them with us once. They were for my grandma. She LOVED to walk. She'd take us on at least one, maybe two, walks a day through their paths. She would throw sticks off of the trail the entire time we'd walk. She was a fast walker. It was pretty hard for my little legs to keep up with her when she started moving. 

At one spot she had what she called "The Kissing Tree" where we'd stop and give her a kiss. I always remember thinking that I probably had her lipstick on me afterward.

After almost every dinner we ate with her she'd say, "Oh, I'm so full! I need to go for a walk around the block now." And then we almost always did take a stroll down River Road or around the property.

On one memorable walk, she ended up in a tree! I remember being shocked that at 70+ year old was up in a tree with us, but that was our grandma. We have a picture to prove it.
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Baby Phoebe, 1992
Grandma and Grandpa were very set in their routines. She had days of the week that she'd do different cleaning and chores around the house. Every morning they ate cereal with their coffee, except for Saturdays when they'd have eggs for breakfast. Lunch was always deli sandwiches with Swiss or cheddar cheese, pickles, ham or turkey, carrots, pickles, and a small handful of chips. Afterward there were always cookies to choose from. Dinner was always varied, though. And Sundays they would have a large dinner right after church and then late in the evening they would have cheese and crackers and drink beer. That was their routine and they did it for years and years.

I loved eating carrots and she did, too. She called me her "carrot girl" and talked about how we were the same in that way. She'd tell me about how carrots are good for our eyes, too. I always think of her when I eat carrots and I always will. The day she passed I put some on my plate for lunch and lost it. 

While we are on the subject of food, she made my favorite baked beans! OH MAN. She knew I loved them and would make them especially for me at family gatherings. Speaking of this, I need to get that recipe. Hope someone has it!

She had a pizelle-maker and it was often an activity we'd do with her during a visit at her house. I'd never had pizelles except for when I was with her, until very recently. Powdered sugar spread in dustings across her counter and standing on a chair to help on the other side of the island, under the Swiss cowbells. I'll always remember that.

My family's favorite birthday tradition was to have chocolate cake with chocolate icing. Grandma always called it "sinful" :)

She always kept a small, heart-shaped crystal bowl full of peppermint candies. We could always expect to be allowed one when we first came in the door. For a long time a sand timer was placed right next to the candy bowl and we would suck on our candies and watch the timer.

As a young child, my hair was very long. When I'd spend the night at her house, she would brush and braid my hair in the morning. She had a brush that had loads of bristles, different than those we had at home. She would brush and brush and brush my hair (partially because it was so ridiculously long and thick, but also because she missed brushing my aunt's long hair when she was little). It always felt SO good. A wonderful head massage. Then she would braid my hair and comment on the multitude of colors that were exposed in each turn of my hair. It made me feel so special.

Both Grandma and Grandpa liked to swim. For a long time they went to the YMCA to swim laps together. She'd swim one mile and he'd swim two. She was always game to swim in the river with us kids, when she'd come to visit The Pinery. She would come into the water with her swim cap on. I loved her flowery one, in more recent years, with all different neon, vibrant colors. It made a statement. 

Grandma, Phoebe, Me- summer 1992
Every time they came to River Road and I was in the car, she would talk about the time that they were driving me when I was two years old. She'd said, "Käthe, look at those sparkles on the water," to which I replied, "Those aren't sparkles, those are sprinkles." From then on she always talked about the "sprinkles" on the water. I'll always think of her when I see the light reflecting on the water, too.

Her favorite color was blue. She had a blue bathtub and a blue toilet. Most of her clothes were blue. Any blue could match any blue. And it's probably in our DNA because it's every Krumich girls' favorite color, too. 

Me & Grandma
Blueberries grew up the hill from her house and I'd spend hours picking berries with her. The berries were so small and we'd barely fill the small bowls we'd bring, but I loved it. We'd chat and chat as we picked. She would only pick in the evening, after the sun was starting to go down. The bushes were low and she'd gather the knee cushions and small metal bowls we needed. When it came time to go back home, she'd always remark that she saw just one more good bush! Which normally turned into a few more than just one. In the morning I could always expect to have those berries on my breakfast cereal.

My grandparents filled the wall next to the stairs with family pictures. I always loved that. It comforted me, somehow, to know that I had a spot on their wall. Each year, my school picture would change as we'd give them the latest one. Many a person who came to visit would get the tour of their family on those stairs.

Grandma LOVED getting mail. She loved it so much, that she'd often save things to mail each day. We'd walk with her to put the item in the mailbox and put up the flag. Then, Grandma and Grandpa would each occasionally pick up a pair of binoculars and check to see if the flag had been put down. They'd even trim the trees and shrubs so that they had a direct shot to the mailbox from their dining room window.

She'd be disappointed each time when it was just bills or ads, BUT when there was a handwritten card or note just for them she was excited. I think of her every time I check the mail, when, I too, hope to have something personal waiting for me in my mailbox.

Swiss family visits in the 1990s?
Not only did she love getting mail, but she was an avid card and letter writer! She sent cards for every holiday to all of her family and close friends. Grandma wrote letters back and forth to Switzerland for decades. Her relationship with Aunt Lizzy kept our family ties strong. She wrote every other week of the goings ons of our family and would share every letter she received back, including the happenings of our family abroad. It always seemed like a fairy tale, having family in Switzerland, but I've been twice now and that's only because Grandma & Aunt Lizzy put in the effort and heart to keep our bonds strong.

Phoebe, Gpa, Jim, Gma, 2010
Throughout their retirement years, which were pretty extensive, they did a great deal of traveling. Most of their trips were to Switzerland, but they also traveled to Scandinavia, Japan, Germany, Alaska, and likely more that I am not recalling. Grandpa was the photographer and scrapbooker, but Grandma was the one who would share them with everyone. She'd take you through page by page, sharing stories of the people they met and of their travels.

Grandma never met a stranger. On those travels or just sitting in a waiting room, she'd meet people and know all about where they were from, their families, what they do for a living, etc. And most of those people also knew about us. She loved sharing about her family.

She was always hospitable, hosting missionaries visiting their church, youth choir students, friends and family. You name it, her doors were open!!

Annie, Grandma, & Hazel- Christmas
Throughout the summers she would often have us over for sleepovers. Grandma's house was where we went when Mom & Dad went on a trip. The balcony of their home was where we played with toys from our dad's childhood. We often played Pick-Up-Sticks with her. That was a game that we only played at her house and so it was a fun treat! She'd read to us at night, sitting on the floor between the two twin beds of their guest room. Before the lights went out, she'd pray with us. "Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. Thy love stay with me through the night and wake me with the morning light. God Bless, Mommy & Daddy, Grandma & Grandpa, Willem, Phoebe, Lovely, Kodi, and all my aunts and uncles and cousins. Amen." For those who know my childhood, I still recall it this way... dating back since Savannah, Georgia.

Hazel, Heidi, & Grandma
She was president of their church council and on the church prayer chain until recently. I remember her having to run inside to get a prayer chain call many-a-time while we were playing outside.

As I mentioned before, they came to our house for special events like graduations, concerts & performances, Grandparents' Day, and they also came every Thanksgiving. In fact, they would bring us our Christmas tree every year from my uncle's Christmas tree farm when they came for Thanksgiving. I always looked forward to their visits and never wanted to miss a word.

Summer 2014?
At some point, Phoebe and I started playing The Game of Life with Grandma. She was a down-right comedian when it came to that game. Phoebe and I, and Grandma, would be crying from laughing so hard. She'd comment on the different life events and we would just howl. Our favorite was always when Grandma would root around in the bag of identical blue figures looking for Grandpa. She'd throw them back commenting on the different characteristics that just weren't Grandpa and we would howl some more. It truly was hilarious.

Grandma was quite spunky, too. Boy, did she LOVE a good dirty joke! She'd tell jokes that were way over my head as a young child to a crew of laughing adults at the dinner table. When we'd pose for a family picture she'd tell us to say the word, "SEX!" because it would put a glint in your eye. She loved telling the story about the time she and Grandpa were down at our house visiting for a weekend and Uncle John told everyone at church that they were away checking on their porn store. When she returned to church the following weekend everyone asked her how business was going and she just thought that was a HOOT!

Not only did she love to tell jokes, but she really loved to laugh!! Fortunately, I've heard it so many times that I can recall it in my head. She'd do two short bursts, the second higher pitched than the other, before the rest of her laugh. Tears would well in her eyes and her mouth would hang open. 

Itsy Bitsy Spider with Hazel
I wasn't there for this, but I just love this story. My Uncle John LOVED to joke with my Grandma. One day he was down at their house helping to fix their gravely, when he decided to come inside and call the mechanic. Grandma had been waiting eagerly by the phone for word that my cousin, Kaelen, in Miami was born. Well, Uncle John (in the way only he could pull off) casually picked up the phone and said, "Oh hi, Mark? It didn't even ring. Well, yea... I need to call the mechanic, can you call back later?" and he hung up the phone. Grandma, overcome with excitement and shock, hit Uncle John in the arm!! He pulled it off so perfectly. She never forgave him for twisting her arm that way, I'm sure, but she certainly enjoyed telling the tale!!

Maybe 1981-2?
They always kept classical music playing on the radio throughout the day. She would hum along. Grandma was one to get songs stuck in her head and would sing them over and over again. The one, in particular, that I remember was "This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it..." She sang that line over and over again. It was on a hanging at the bottom of their basement steps and so I saw it many times; perhaps that's why it stuck in my head as one she'd sing.

She had a beautiful singing voice. Grandma was an alto in the church choir and in Venango Chorus until recent years and was always in choirs throughout her life. She was also a flute player, just like my grandpa. In fact, that's how they met. My grandpa was in a band with Great Grandpa Donley and he told my grandpa about his daughter and that perhaps they could play duets together. Well, they did for 64 years of marriage!!! What a matchmaker he turned out to be!

Summer 2011, I think. All of their kids!
Together they had four children: Beth, John (my dad), Mark, & Eric. They instilled a love of music in each of them so deeply, that all of them majored in music and went into the field for their professions.  Aunt Beth (piano player) and my dad are music teachers & directors, Uncle Mark works as a music therapist in Miami schools and is a professional flutist on the side, and Uncle Eric went into the army and played trumpet in an elite band and is now a special education teacher in D.C and does professional gigs on the side, as well.

Wedding Picture
Grandpa and Grandma were crazy about each other. They flirted until the very end, before Grandpa passed away about five years ago. If they were in their small kitchen together, they could barely keep their hands off of each other. One would giggle and then the other would start, too. In hushed tones they'd flirt back and forth... it was so sweet to witness.

I don't know where the nickname came from, but Grandpa called her "Butch." I will never forget his voice saying "Hey Butch" from somewhere in the house. It was always somehow very coarse, endearing, and sweet at the same time.

Grandma was absolutely devoted to Grandpa through the very end. Caring for him kept her young and fit for years. She certainly missed her forever companion and I know their reunion in heaven must have been beautiful!! I bet he said something like "Hey Butch, you made it!!" And then there were probably a few hushed tones spoken before they both giggled.
Returning from a Pirates game
Summer 2012
February 2nd she turned 90 years old! I was the size of a small house and ended up having Owen eight days later, so I missed the birthday celebration, but they had a sweet party for her. 

My greatest regret is that she never got to meet Owen. The day before her stroke I heard from Ardyce, a friend. She was with my grandma and showing her pictures from Facebook that I'd posted. Ardyce said, "She wants me to tell you that she can hardly wait to hold that baby. And to talk with Ian. She sends her love and kisses." I so wish she had the opportunity to hold him, but I am so grateful that she knew of his birth. I was really looking forward to sharing him with her this summer.

Fall 2013, Ian at 2 months
My sister reminded me of something sweet, too. Grandma had always wanted a red-headed child and never had one. Then she wanted a red-headed grandchild and never had one. Well, then Ian came along and she had a red-headed great-grandchild!! That's pretty special. I'm glad she got to meet this redhead, turned strawberry blonde, (we even lived up there for his whole second month of life) and that Ian very much knows who she is. He speaks of Gigi often, actually. Most of the time unprompted.

She'd cried on the phone when I called to tell her of his birth.
Ian (2 months) & Grandma, October 2013
Her name will be spoken in this household often. I'm so grateful that Jim also has fond memories of time spent with her, too. One day we'll all be together again. For now, we'll carry her with us in our hearts and in our stories.
Our Wedding, Summer 2009

Summer 2014
Here are the blurbs my siblings shared about her; both of them are beautifully written and oh-so-true:

Summer 2013-2014
Phoebe wrote: Thinking about my beautiful grandma, Marian Krumich, who passed away on Friday. Thinking of the walks in the woods and along River Road, the games of Life and pick-up-sticks, the picture albums and the stories that go along with them, and the family-filled tables and campfire circles we shared. I am grateful for her lessons in positivity, compassion, humor, and matching blue with blue. We will celebrate and remember this incredible role model and matriarch for years to come.

Summer 2012
Willem wrote: Today, we lost a great one to the angels. Grandma and great grandma Marian Krumich was wonderful, funny, and joyful. She loved people, and people loved her. She loved Angels. Now they have welcomed her home. Goodbye, Butch. RIP.

Because Grandma loved family and pictures so much, here are a few I had on my computer.
This past summer! 2015.
Circa 2002-4??
Circa 2011?
Christmas 2009
Last summer. I was 8 weeks pregnant with Owen in this picture.
Circa 1992
Grandma was always someone you could count on. Marianne, my cousin, called her her rock. It's true. She was steady-tempered, with a fierce love for her family. In recent years she changed in many ways, but I will always remember her the way she was before: active and energetic, positive and determined, compassionate and spirited, humorous and gentle.

She was the only person other than my parents who knew the most about my childhood. Who witnessed so much of me and loved me unconditionally. I can hear her voice saying my name with excitement and love as she answered the phone when I'd call.

I was telling one of my friends that her passing makes me feel as though I need to be a grown-up now. I have two children of my own; I'm an adult. Heck, this summer I turn 30. But there was something about having her around and in my life that still made me feel like a kid.

But, of the many things I learned from her, she taught me that it's possible to stay forever young. She had a childlike enthusiasm that was never quenched by the years.

We were so blessed to have her as our matriarch.

Rest in heavenly peace, Grandma.
Their joy! I will always remember them this way.
Thanksgiving 2003 or 2004, maybe?


  1. Oh my. This is wonderful! Thank you for capturing these memories, I will cherish this post forever!

  2. gorgeous! Well written and such a lovely collection of pictures! Thank you, Kathe!