Thursday, February 3, 2011

Grandma Call

 Marjorie Helen Harrison Garner Call, age 83, died 30 January 2011, a result of pancreatic cancer. Marge was born in 1927 in Providence, Utah. She was raised in Caribou County, Idaho on a farm in the former township of Central, and educated at the nearby schools in Grace, Idaho. She lived through the Great Depression, World War II, and the Korean War. In 1946 she married Dewey D. Garner and moved to Utah (later divorced). They had one son and four daughters: Gary (Elizabeth), Linda, Lynette (Bruce) Petersen, Shauna Swena, and Lisa Hunter. She married George H. Call in 1961 and they had a son, Ralph (Kathy). Marjorie enjoyed an active life. She loved singing and participated in various singing groups in the Salt Lake Valley. She traveled extensively from coast to coast in the U.S. and also explored the Caribbean, Mexico, Germany, and Switzerland. She was a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Marjorie is survived by her children; stepdaughter, Pauline (Rod) Torgersen; 30 grandchildren; 44 great-grandchildren; and her sister, Sharon (Russ) Hawks. She is preceded in death by her parents; husband, George; sister, Betty; brother, Lynn; and four grandchildren. Services will be Friday, February 4, 2011, 12:00 noon at the LDS. Kearns 16th Ward Chapel, 4300 West 4715 South, Kearns, Utah where a viewing will be held, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. prior to funeral service. Arrangements: McDougal Funeral Home.

My Grandma Call died this week of Pancreatic cancer.  It's odd that a woman who lived for 83 years can have her life summarized in two hundred or so words in the local newspaper. 

While she was never the milk-and-cookies kind of grandma, she was a constant presence in our lives growing up.  One of our biggest Christmas traditions as children revolved around "Grandma Call's Christmas Party," a Christmas Eve bash at her house.  We would be surrounded by relatives we only saw once a year at her house ("Now who do you belong to again?" was a common question that we dreaded,) eat chili (laughing that those that mixed noodles in,) and light the actual fire-hazard candles on her Christmas tree while we sang "Silent Night."  Christmas Eve was never the same after she moved the party to her local church on a random Saturday afternoon.

Grandma was always supportive of my music, and would be irritated if I didn't call and invite her to all my performances.  She loved to sing, and frequently told me that we should find a duet to play together in her ward.  I used to roll my eyes at being asked to bring my violin over to play for her.  Now I laugh as Abby does the same thing, realizing how much it really does mean to people. 

Grandma loved my babies, and was always thrilled to hold them, talk to them and make faces at them.  She was thrilled to meet Ian a few weeks ago, and held him, sang to him and whispered secrets to him.  She also never failed to mention that she thought the outfits I dressed the babies in were ridiculous, and that when she had her babies, they dressed them all in kimonos until they were six months old because they were warm and comfortable. 

There are two funny stories about Grandma Call and names that will go down in our family history lore.  When I was pregnant with Max, before we knew it was Max, we were discussing possible girl names around the Sunday dinner table.  Out of nowhere, Grandma piped up, "I think you should name the baby Frederika."  We all giggled, thinking she was joking.  Turns out she wasn't.  "What?" she continued, "It's a beautiful family name, and then you could call her Freddie."  Someday we'll tell Max that if he was born a girl, he would have been Frederika Smith.

The second story also revolved around a Sunday dinner.  As we were cleaning up from the meal, we heard Grandma keep calling, "Bill!"  "Bill!"  "BILL!"  Finally, she gently slugged my husband and asked "Bill!  Why aren't you answering me?"  Bless my sweet, confused husbands' heart, he looked at Grandma and said "Are you talking to me?  My name's Tom."  She muttered something about being sure that his name was Bill.  We teased her about that until the very end.  And I will still call my husband Bill occasionally.

I talked with her on the phone a few times right after she was diagnosed.  She told me "You know, looking back, I wish I had played with my children more.  It didn't matter that the clothes weren't washed or the dishes weren't done.  I should have gotten down on the floor and spent more time with them."  Words I'm trying to remember.

I read this in the guestbook to her obituary today: "I can't think of Marge, without thinking of flowers. She was the one who helped me realize that no matter how much you need to plant tomatoes, it's always good to plant some flowers too."  I'll plant some flowers this spring for her.

Abby and I are playing at the funeral tomorrow.  I'm grateful to be able to give her that final, musical tribute.  Hope she likes it.


  1. It is always hard to say goodbye. So sorry for your loss. Love ya!

  2. Sorry for your loss. She sounds like a gem! I am always stunned at a life being summarized like that. And you go to a funeral of an 80- or 90-something person and see 40 people sitting there. So strange.


Related Posts with Thumbnails