Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten - Jean Remembers Mrs. G

After mom died, Mrs. G. (Grieshaber) came to look after us. She became a kind of second mother for all of us and especially for Jean.
Remembering Mrs. G.
By Jean Pollack 
Mrs. G. holds a very special place in my heart. A tiny, wisp of a woman, she was hired as a housekeeper by Dad (she was the mother of Harry Grieshaber, one of Uncle Robbie's high school friends) shortly after mom died, primarily to help us get ready for school in the morning. She gradually began taking on some household chores and before long she was doing the laundry, ironing (she ironed our sheets and Dad's underwear), mending, cleaning and cooking. 

Each day she would arrive in the morning, put her coat and pocketbook in the back room and drag out the ironing board. After getting us off to school, she would put the load of wash that dad had done before he left for work into the dryer, and put another load in the washer. She would then go upstairs to make the beds. She always tried to finish the beds and go downstairs before grandma Easson's first phone call. If this call came when she was upstairs and had already made Dad's bed, she would have to remain standing during the call. She would never sit on a newly made bed. Other calls would follow during the day. Mrs. G had to watch the soaps and fill grandma in on all the plots in case she had fallen asleep during on of the programs. 

I have several photos of Mrs. G. , but I regret not having taken one at her "post": Sitting at her ironing board, doing the daily ironing. I still like to iron, and I think this is why. 

During grammar school she would have lunch ready for us when we came home. As we got older, we would share tea or milk and a "baked goody" from Barenbergs' bakery when we got home from high school or college. In the evening she would prepare dinner for us and serve it to us when Dad came home. 

She valued privacy. As I mentioned before she would wash, fold, mend and iron our clothes, but she would never put anything into our drawers. She felt she had no right to do that. 

She was responsive to our needs. If I wore a blouse one day and I needed to wear it in a day or two it would be ready for me. 

I once asked her if she ever had doubts about taking on the responsibility of caring for four mother-less children. After all, she was 62 years old when she came to us and had finished raising her own four children decades before. She said that she told my uncle that she would take the job, but if the kids ever got too much to handle, (she was especially concerned about the ten year old twins) she would tell my father that it wasn't working out and she would quit. At the end of this sentence, she walked away and I followed her and asked her what happened. She said she had just never gotten around to telling Dad. Of course, we were well-behaved, this was just a little affectionate joke that I'll always cherish. 

Mrs. G did the housework, signed report cards, made appointments, reminded us to "Think twice before you write" whenever we had a test in school, listened to us, admonished us when she thought we had done something to hurt Dad, and loved us as if we were her own. She was not just a housekeeper after all, she was our "mom". 

I loved her and I will always love and miss her.

Jean VanderPutten Pollack
February 20, 2001