A GG Spotlight ~ Jane’s Grandmother, Grandma J.

My Grandma J, as I called her, her name was Phyllis Ione Jacobson, was an amazing woman she was born in 1905. She was born at home, prematurely, and became very ill. She was not expected to live, but proved she had the spunk to survive.  She had two older sisters, and one younger. She was given the nickname “Pete” at a very young age, and her younger sister, Nina, was given the nickname “Ikee.” Pete and Ikee were very close and good friends throughout their lives.  Phyllis was with Ikee when she passed away. She had traveled from Logan to Ogden in order to stay with her at the hospital for several days, which brought much comfort to her sister and her family.

Phyllis was raised on a farm in a little area of Utah known as Benson Ward. They grew crops, fished in the creek, and raised animals. Life was challenging, and full of hard-work.  Phyllis and her mother and sisters would wake up early, and fix a large breakfast for their “menfolk” before they left for the fields.  After they left, the girls would begin preparing what they called “dinner.”  This would involve a hearty meal, and they fed the hired workers who were working with them. After that meal was over, the women cleaned up and planned a light meal for the evening, which was called “supper.”

Phyllis’ grandfather, on her father’s side, had a wife and family, but his first wife died, and he remarried and had three children with her. After he and his wife passed away, Phyllis’s dad and mom had his half-brothers and sister come and live with them. Phyllis loved them dearly, and stayed close to them.  She considered them her brothers and sister.  One of the brothers died heroically in the First World War, trying to save the life of a comrade.

Phyllis grew up, getting an education, and, during the Great Depression, married a tall and handsome man, whose middle name was Peter. The nieces and nephews called Phyllis “Aunt Pete” because of that and because of her nickname from youth. Phyllis and her husband lived in her parents’ home in Logan, Utah so that Phyllis could care for her parents and her older sister Marie, who had contracted spinal meningitis at the age of three, and was left an invalid for the rest of her life.  Phyllis cared for her after the death of their parents.

Phyllis had two children, both girls. My mom Judy and my aunt Martha. She worked hard to give them what they needed.  She was an excellent cook and seamstress, and loved to quilt and crochet. She worked at home tending children and taking in ironing. She did not have many of the conveniences we take for granted today, and washed clothes in the old wringer-washer all of her adult life. She eventually had four grandchildren, I was obviously her favorite, and one great grandchild. They were the loves of her life.

When asked once what her favorite thing was to do, she said it was visiting with her relatives. Her husband was one of 10 children, and she loved and enjoyed being with  his brothers and sisters and their families. She was heard to say that she loved her mother-in-law very nearly as much as she loved her own mother.

Memorial Day was a big event in her life. She was an excellent gardener, and grew many beautiful flowers. Many friends would come and ask to buy her flowers for the graves they wanted to decorate. All of Phyllis’ family would come to her house on Memorial Day. They would all bring food, and Phyllis cooked most of the day. But before eating, they gathered flowers and went to the Logan Cemetery to decorate the graves of their grandparents, parents, and their sister Marie.  Then they returned for food and fun with the family.

Phyllis lost my grandpa to cancer when he was 55 years old. My mom was only 19. She had promised him that she would not marry again, and she spent the next 38 years alone. He passed away in January of 1963, aunt Martha went to California to live and work the following summer, and my mom married in the fall. Within that year, she was left alone.

She had suffered cancer twice, and recovered, and had many other challenges to her health throughout her life. She never complained, even though she lost aunt Martha to cancer before her own death, and for the last 10 years of her life, was blind from macular degeneration and glaucoma.

Even though she was fiercely independent, she had to finally give in to the pleadings, and left her beloved home to come and live with us the last six years of her life. I was very fortunate to get to spend those last years with her. She only consented because she got along so well with my dad. They always stuck up for each other, and he loved her from the start because she fed him so well. Yes, it’s true, it really is the way to a man’s heart.

The character traits Phyllis is remembered for are hard-working, full of love for family and friends, humility combined with “spunk,” frugality, and a great sense of humor.  She had many little “sayings” that her family remembers.
A few of our favorites are:
“Only the boring are bored.”
“it is better to wear out than rust out.”
And our all-time favorite:

“What other people think of me is none of my business.”

She would have been 95 years old in fifteen days, when she left this world. It was the day before her wedding anniversary.  We always said that Grandpa came to get her so they could celebrate together. Whenever she laughed her belly would jiggle and her eyes would twinkle. I loved her very very much and is still missed everyday.

When my mom was going through her house she found these journals and ledgers. Her journals were 5 year journals. She lived on a farm so she mostly talks about the weather, who came to visit, how the animals were doing, etc. I think these are just an amazing find and so incredible for us that she kept a record for us to remember her by.

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