When I was in the second grade, I remember telling my school teacher that I wanted to be called Ingrid not Marilyn! I also told her I lived in a chicken coop. She was very concerned about my mental well-being, so she called my mom. My mom told her I really did live in a chicken coop, but that my real name was Marilyn not Ingrid. Mom explained to her that I loved my grandmother so much, I wanted to have her name. The teacher actually came to visit us at the chicken coop. (We really didn’t live with the chickens; it was a remodeled, temporary living area while our house was being built on the same property. The bathroom was even an inside one!)
The memories of my grandma Ingrid are very vivid. She was a special person in my life, as well as a role model. We have carried down many of her Scandinavian traditions in our family. Grandma Ingrid, I know, is always looking after me even today. Many times she will just enter my thoughts and is often times in my dreams.
When Grandma and Art were called to serve a mission to the Southern States, I was devastated. I could not believe she was leaving me. I remember the day of her farewell very distinctly. It was at the white ward house on 20th East. They sang the song, “God Be With You Till We Meet Again.” I sobbed through her entire farewell and especially during that song. I certainly didn’t want her to leave, but she did! Not only that, she and Art decided to serve another mission. This time she went to Nauvoo, Illinois. Again, they sang that same song, “God Be With You.” I sobbed through that whole meeting also. To this day, I cannot control my emotions when I hear that song.
Grandma Ingrid had a tremendous sense of humor. We used to laugh until we were actually all lying down on the floor. I loved to go clean the Christiansen Brother’s offices with her, my mom, and my sisters. My sisters and I would dust the furniture and empty the trash cans. Mom and Grandma would do all the hard work. We would then play around with the office equipment and phones. Most of all, I just enjoyed being there spending time with my grandma. We spent a lot of the time in that office with tears rolling down our faces from the laughter. I know my grandma didn’t need the money, but I think she went with my mom because she knew my mom could use the extra money. Also, I think she looked forward to spending that time with our family; I know I looked forward to going. I don’t ever remember not wanting to go clean the offices because I knew I would get to be with my grandmother.
General conference time was so much fun for me. Grandma would attend the missionary reunions after conference. She always let me go with her. I actually got to ride in a taxi cab with her to the reunion. That was really something special. I thought I was in the lap of luxury!!! (How times have changed.) I especially remember the missionary reunion for the Georgia missionaries. After the reunion, we went to the Ferguson’s home on the Avenues. The Ferguson’s were new members that Grandma had converted while on her mission. They moved to Salt Lake to be with members of the Church. When we arrived at their home, they wanted to fix us something to eat. They were serving pineapple and mayonnaise sandwiches. Needless to say, I didn’t eat very much! That night after returning home to Grandma’s house, she fed me her famous meal of goat’s cheese and homemade bread. It didn’t matter what Grandma fixed to eat; it always tasted delicious.
She was a fabulous cook. I remember eating “reese and green groots”!!! I know that isn’t how you spell it, but that is how she pronounced it. It was rice and raisin pudding. She also made wonderful fish soup. At Christmastime, we could hardly wait for her to bring out the lefse. It was the dessert we always had at the Christiansen Christmas party. The party was usually held in Uncle Harold’s and Aunt Helen’s basement. I remember being excited to see what she had brought for each of her grandchildren. She had a large basketful of gifts.
Grandma had beautiful silver, black, and gray hair and always wore it the same way. She usually wore dresses; only occasionally did she wear pants.
Uncle Harold and Aunt Helen often took Grandma fishing to Ponds, Idaho. A couple of times I got to go with them. We would go out early in the morning on the boat. I could not stand to touch worms; she would put them on the hook for me. After the worm was on the hook, she would spit on it for good luck and cast it out into the lake. All I had to do was reel in the fish.
When I graduated from high school, Grandma knew that the secretary for the Christiansen Brother’s was pregnant and would be out all summer. She called my uncles and asked if I could come to work for them. They didn’t know it when they hired me, but they soon found out I had no secretarial skills! Bob Naffziger, their bookkeeper, was a very patient and kind man. He taught me all about working in an office. Because of him and my grandmother, I have made my livelihood as a secretary.
When Grandma Ingrid became sick, it was unbelievable. She was never sick. She could not get rid of her cold. When they put her in the hospital, I was very upset. I clearly remember the visit to see her in the hospital. She was in the intensive care unit. She could only have one visitor in her room at a time. There she was lying with tubes in her arms and oxygen to help her breathe, I totally turned white as a sheet and got sick to my 124 stomach. She grabbed my hand and patted it and told me to sit down so I wouldn’t pass out. Even though she was very ill, she was concerned about me.
When Grandma got out of the hospital, my mom brought her to our house. They knew then that she didn’t have very long to live because her lungs were full of cancer. One night I was out on a date, I felt very anxious. About 9 o’clock, I told my date I had to get home right now. I went right into my mom’s bedroom where my grandma was. That night, even though she could hardly breathe, we talked about a lot of things. At the end of our conversation, she gave me a tight squeeze on my hand and told me to “always be good.” I hugged her and kissed her goodnight. The next morning my Dad came to tell us that she had passed away. I was so thankful that I had come home early that night. It was a night I will never forget and the last time I spoke to her.
Words could never express the feelings and love I have for this wonderful woman. I truly miss her. I wish that my husband, children, and grandchildren could have had the privilege and opportunity to know her like I did. I feel many times that I might have disappointed her because of some of the decisions I have made. However, I do know that she would still love and care about me in spite of it because Grandma Ingrid loved me unconditionally. She had no choice!!!