This post is for week 2 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge by Amy Crow from No Story Too Small.
Margaret Jaeger was born on January 1, 1919 to Fred and Ella (Jonas) Jaeger, in Chicago, Cook, IL. Though she was named Margaret officially, she went through life answering to the name Ida, which her family believed to be her legal name. Ida was the second daughter born in this family, with two sisters that followed her as well.
Ida married her first husband, Frederick Fischer at about the age of 18 and had three children with him. This marriage ended in divorce in 1944.
Her second marriage was to Ambrose (Larry) O’Connell about 1945 in Chicago, Cook, IL. Together they had three children which they raised in Chicago, Cook, IL. Though the marriage might not have been always happy and peaceful. Ida and Larry stayed together until his death on Feb 28, 1975.
Between the two marriages there are a lot of children in this family. Unfortunately, with the violent tendencies of Larry, many of the family ties were broken. Between these two marriages there were a total nine children. Three from Ida’s first marriage, three from their marriage to each other and three from Larry’s first two marriages. The Brady Bunch has nothing on this family (except a maid, some money and a non violent atmosphere).
Ida was a constant presence in her Grandchildren’s lives, especially those that lived near by. Some would even tell you she was more of a mother to them, than a grandmother. I know I would.
Babysitting was probably what Ida did most, she loved the children and they loved her back. There are kids that she babysat that started calling her Grandma and even when they moved south, she went to visit them yearly.
Besides babysitting, Ida was a crafter. She loved to crochet and knit, often making beautiful items for her grandchildren. She loved to do these things while sitting in her chair, watching her “stories.” Yes, she watched what many call the “dreaded soap opera’s.” To this day, I continue to watch Days of Our Lives, thinking of her and what she might have to say about today’s story lines. You see, I was her remote control. Remember the days when you had to get up and turn the dial to the left or to the right to get to the channel you wanted. Grandma was a smart cookie. She would send me to the tv and tell me to turn it to the correct channel before I could read by telling me right or left (to the window or away from the window) and how many times I had to turn it. After that, I would sit on the arm of her chair all cuddled up against her and watch each story. I don’t think I will ever give up watching Days Of Our Lives, I think it is the only one left on that she watched and it just brings back fond memories of being with her.
Besides the babysitting, crafting, and tv watching, Ida loved puzzles. Find-a-words, crosswords and jigsaw puzzles. Ida did them all. We all learned from her young. To me, there is nothing more tempting than sitting at someone else’s table and finishing their puzzle. I have one friend who would get aggravated because I could sit down and knock out the stuff they had been working on forever. Ahhh, the memories it brings of the puzzles underneath Grandma’s beautiful, lace tablecloth in her dining room. We usually had a puzzle going underneath the family dinner. Didn’t you?
Ida passed in her sleep on 15 April 1980, Chicago, Cook, IL. At the time of her death we were all living in a single family home and she was the adult who got us kids up and off to school. On this day, she did not. My brother woke us and told us to get ready that Grandma was tired and we should let her sleep. We knew she was not completely healthy. She was scheduled to have a pacemaker put in later that week. So, we got ourselves ready, made lunch and got on the school bus without saying goodbye.
After school, we were excited because the local Tastee Freeze opened and it was not too far from school. We could not wait to get home from school and ask grandma for some money to go get ice cream. It was close enough that my brother would have been able to take us.
When we got into the house, it was quiet. No tv on in the living room, which was odd. We went back to her bedroom and my sister and I stood at the door as my brother tried to wake her up. Our home had two phone lines, my father’s line and then Grandma’s line. As my brother tried to wake her up, Dad’s phone started to ring. As he went to answer it, my sister and I were already crying. We were seven and eight years old and this was pretty scary. When he answered the phone, it was Aunt Ruth (Grandma’s oldest sister). She told my brother what to look for (raising chest from breathing, is she cold…) when he went back and gave her the answers (because at this point we did not have cordless phones). She told him to hang up and call our step mother at work and let her know that Grandma had passed away. What a terrible thing for any kid to have to do. I give him props for taking care of it and us at the same time.
I know he called the step mother and she took care of calling my dad. Within a few minutes our house was full. Everyone was home. Even my cousin who lived with us, she came home from work with no shoes! Her car was completely fogged from her crying and it was April! My cousin took us for ice cream so we were out of the house when the ambulance came. Though I have been told we were back home in time to watch them wheel grandma out. It is a memory I must have blocked out. I do not recall it at all.
However, I do remember that once everything calmed down in the house. I was in the front room with my father and there was a huge rainbow over the house. I remember crying and looking out and my Dad telling me it was because another angel found its way to heaven.
I remember the funeral home being packed! I sat on my Mom’s lap and cried through the whole thing. I remember at the end of the service they were having each row go past the coffin for one last good-bye. I told my Mom I did not want to go up there. I did not want to see her like that. It turned out that the room was so packed there was no way we could turn away and we had to pass the coffin to leave. It was heartbreaking! I spent everyday with Grandma, at that point she was the most important person in my life and it completely broke my heart to have to say goodbye.
For many years I could not even have the simplest discussion about her because I would just sob over her loss, again. Its been almost thirty-three years and I sit and cry as I type this post.
I do have a few things that Ida made and they are completely treasured by me. I have one afghan on my couch and when I wrap it around my body for warmth, it is a hug from heaven that I feel I am getting. To see some of the items Ida made and read other posts about her, visit my older posts.
**Sources will be inserted at a later date**