My beloved Grandma and Grandpa sitting in front of their nine children. Left to right are: Carl (who was nicknamed Skip), Gerald, Edward, William, David, Richard, Violet, Earl and Harold.
Remembering Grandma Mabey
By Richard Mabey Jr.
My paternal grandmother, Bertha (Storms) Mabey, had nine children. By the grace of the good Lord, they were for the most part all healthy and successful in life. Amazingly, most of them served in the armed services and all came home, safe and sound.
Grandma was a woman of strong faith. Of her nine children, five of them served during times of war. Uncle Ed and my dad served in World War II. Uncle Skip, Uncle Dave and Uncle Gerry served in the Korean War. All five of these sons had been placed in harm’s way at one time or another during their terms of service. When the Mabey family would gather for Thanksgiving or Christmas, Grandma would always remind her children that she never stopped praying for them.
Grandma knew fully well that freedom isn’t free. Her grandfather, William Storms, was killed in the Civil War. And Grandma knew that Grandpa never stopped mourning for his brother, Earl, who was killed in World War I. So, to see so many of her sons go to war, must have been very upsetting for her.
One of the qualities that I remember about Grandma is how she could make you feel special about your landmarks in life. I remember when I drove from Lincoln Park to Towaco, down the two miles of ribbon of road of old Route 202 to Grandma’s house, with my newly purchased Ford Falcon. I was just 17. It was September of 1970. Dad and I had just bought the 1960 Ford Falcon at a local used car lot.
Well, Grandma came out and looked at the old Ford Falcon and made such a fuss about it. I remember this so very well. I told Grandma that it was a used car and that it was 11 years old. Grandma looked me in the eye and told me that she thought it was a brand new car. I remember how that made me feel like a million dollars.
About a week before Christmas, my sister Patti, my cousin Ed and I would go out and buy a Christmas tree for Grandma. Then, we would decorate it. I remember Grandma had this one box of really old Christmas decorations. They were made of very thin glass and had sparkles all over them. I think that Grandma might have had them from when she was a little girl.
Grandma would tell us to be very careful with the antique Christmas tree decorations that had been stored in the cardboard box, with the dividers in it. I seem to remember that there were nine of them. They were cylinder shaped and were tapered on the top and the bottom. I remember that they were all blue. I think in some way, they were symbolic to Grandma of her blessed loved ones who had gone Home to the with the Lord.
It’s funny. As I am writing this little essay, a thousand and one memories come back to me of little acts of kindness that Grandma showed to us. Testaments of her unconditional love for her. Grandma used to go to church with us. In my early twenties, I used to teach Sunday School, so I would go to church earlier. From time to time, I would drive Grandma home. It was our little time to talk.
A lot of times, after church, we would go out for lunch; my mom and dad, my sister Patti, Grandma and me. Sometimes we would go to the diner or the restaurant. Sometimes we would just go to the fast food restaurant out on the highway. Oh, what I’d give to just have one more chance to have lunch with Grandma.
In January of 1989, my grandmother went Home to be with the Lord. Several years before that, I had written a play about the Mabey family during the time period during World War I. A great part of the play centered upon Grandma and Grandpa. Sadly, the play was not produced until June of 1989. It always made me very sad that Grandma never got to see my play.
My grandmother taught me to be fair with people. To be honest with people. Grandma was very proud of me for having earned the rank of Eagle Scout. I loved her very much. I miss her dearly.