As I was attending the album retreat in Salt Lake City, UT, I received word that my beloved Granie was dying. It wasn't a huge surprise as I knew she was 93 and on hospice but sad still the same. I can't think of a better place to hear the news. My Close to My Heart career is riddled with memories of my Granie meeting us at conventions in Salt Lake with my dearly departed cousin Samantha. I remember one convention where my Granie came over to the Salt Palace with Samantha when the theme of convention was 1970s. We were out on the floor dancing up a storm. My Granie insisted that there was "no way her daughter and grandaughter were out there with those crazy women!" Samantha was equally adamant that we were and indeed Sam was correct, we were, as usual, having the time of our lives. Samantha and Granie are now both in heaven, two amazingly similar spirits that we miss terribly!
My friend, Bren Yule, was sitting and singing Love at Home while we were making one of the layouts at the Album Retreat, it reminded me of my granie singing that song to us whenever we would fight as children and made me laugh during this time of sadness for me, sad even though I know my granie is happy to be at peace with the love of her life and her family members.
Listening to Stacy Julian speak at the album retreat also reminded me that Stacy was the one that taught me to scrapbook PEOPLE and MEMORIES instead of events and I am SO thankful that I had taken the time to scrapbook special places in my granie's home in 2007! I remembered making these pages and came home and was overjoyed to find them. I am SO happy to have them because these special places don't exist anymore, Granie's been in the Gingrich Home for the Elderly for over a year, receiving tender loving care for which we are so grateful!! I wanted to share these pages, hoping they will help inspire someone else to scrapbook PEOPLE and MEMORIES before it's too late. These pages are irreplaceable!!
In addition, I've included the eulogy that I wrote and read at her funeral as the oldest grandchild. In the middle is a Studio J layout that I did of my grandparents a few years ago at a Studio J Boot Camp. It, too, is a layout that I treasure! The best thing about Studio J is that I can order more copies of that layout and send it to my family without remaking it! YAY!! (And yes I realize that Granie is spelled wrong but that's the way she signed her name so that's the way I'm writing it! And I apologize for the lack of paragraphs for some reason blogspot deletes them!)
Marilene Joy (Bloomfield) Blair
“Just Call me Granie, Everyone Does….”
Marilene Joy (Bloomfield) Blair, 93, of Farmington, passed peacefully and was reunited with her beloved husband, Raymond Blair, on Saturday afternoon, March 16, 2013, one day after his birthday.
Granie was born September 26, 1919, and was raised at Toadlena Trading Post in New Mexico, the daughter of George Bloomfield and Lucy Guymon. She was preceded in death by her husband, Raymond; son, James Raymond; a great-grandson, Bradley Joshua Higgins, a granddaughter, Samantha LaNell Blair; several siblings; grandparents; both her parents and Raymond's as well.
Granie was the mother of three and is survived by her daughter, Diane Blair; son, Michael; and daughter-in-law, La Nell. She was the grandmother of nine, the great grandmother of twenty-five, and the great great grandmother of six.
As a child, Granie was afraid of white men as they were rarely seen near or around Toadalena. Granie’s teeth were pulled at a young age, supposedly the result of eating too much candy at the trading post. Dental care being what it was back in the day, especially in the untamed western desert, we will never be sure why she really lost her teeth or if it was indeed needed. She wore dentures most of her life. Even though they pained her and she detested them, she had a good sense of humor about them sitting in their box in her bathroom. She would take them out and play with them and tease her grandchildren. We would tease her back because she talked funny when they were out. After Papa and Granie were married, they borrowed a car and had an accident and drove off a small bridge. They were in shock and never could recall the details but when they made it to the hospital, all of Granie’s teeth were in Papa’s pocket!
Papa’s courtship of Granie is a classic love story which could well become the basis for a great romance novel. The story is told that Granie’s sister, Paula, and Granie both responded to a section in the back of a magazine entitled, Ranch Romances for beginning a pen pal correspondence with servicemen (prehistoric online dating). Granie’s letter was published and she subsequently received letters from servicemen all over the world, one being from a particular young marine. A “fiery” romance ensued in the form of three years of steamy letters exchanged by these two romantics. Members of the Bloomfield family, including Granie’s parents (Mother and Dad Bloomfield) also corresponded with Raymond prior to meeting him. Dad Bloomfield was aghast at the audacity of his daughter having anything to do with this roughneck, hooligan marine.
One of Granie’s favorite grandsons, Jimbo (James Raymond Williams), remembers her telling us about the day that Granie met Papa. “When Papa was mustered out of the Marine Corps he traveled to Gallup by train and met Granie there. Her sisters Ruthie (Bloomfield McGee) and Grace (Bloomfield Herring) and Grace’s husband Charles (Herring) drove Granie to Gallup on October 19, 1937, to meet her marine. The day they left to pick up her Prince Charming, Dad Bloomfield was standing on the front porch of the Toadalena Trading Post shaking his finger and yelling “You will rue the day you ever let this serviceman into your life” (it’s no secret where Granie got her fierce personality now, is it?). One of our favorite stories surrounding their first meeting is that Papa was so bashful and tongue tied that all he could say was, “You wanna a ""stromberry" soda pop?” which was accepted. We haven’t quite gotten the rest of the story surrounding this day, but Aunt Ruthie (McGee) did sit with them in the back seat on the return to Toadalena. Dad Bloomfield was waiting for them at the door upon their return; Papa walked up to Dad Bloomfield and looked him in straight in the eye, Dad Bloomfield with a tear in his eye, greeted Papa with “Hello, Son” and the two embraced. Thus a little red haired girl from Toadlena Trading Post met and married a marine from Hoot Owl Howler, Kentucky four months later on December 25, 1937.” This is a delightful story that all her posterity cherishes.
After Papa died, granddaughters Tammy (Blair Eddy) and Kimberly (Williams Moss) looked through a box of old photos with Granie’s permission and discovered some of the letters that Granie and Papa had written to each other during that time. Much to their delight--inside were letters from Papa calling Granie his “little red pepper” and signed, “your darling Ray.” Papa sure had a silver tongue! Granie was a very modest person and she was so embarrassed, but her grandaughters loved finding evidence of their passion and romance. It’s difficult to talk about Granie without talking about Papa. They were a team, married over 53 years. Papa presided over the household and Granie carried out his wishes. She treated him like a king and waited on him hand and foot. His wish was her command (somehow her grandaughters missed that lesson, but Aunt Nell (Thompson Blair) is doing a good job of living up to Granie’s example). Papa was the love of her live, and she missed him every single day after he passed and longed to be with him again.
Granie told us when they got married that Papa had $5 in his pocket and a promise of a job from one of Dad Bloomfield’s associates. She always said they lived on a penny and a prayer and that we could make do and live on love. She told us the bedbugs were so bad at Mancos Creek that they had to put the posts of the bedframes in tin cans full of kerosene to keep the bedbugs out (now that’s a household tip for you!). She also told us that Papa was called back into the service and she was left to run the trading post with two young children while he was gone. Granie had warned Diane not to ever go down to the crik (creek). One day she couldn’t find Diane and ran down to the crik to find her standing by the shore poking sticks into the water as the spring run off had started and it was running high, fast and furious. Granie was so scared that she grabbed a willow and whipped Diane all the way back to the house. Granie knew Papa would be mad that she hurt his baby but she wanted Diane to learn a lesson and never go back to the crik.
It was due to his close relationship with Granie’s father, that Raymond got into the trading business. Granie spent many wonderful years on the reservation working as an Indian Trader with Papa and greatly loved the Native American families to whom she became close. Papa and Granie owned and operated Rock Point, Round Rock in Arizona and Mancos Creek, Colorado, Trading Posts. As an indication of the great love the Blair's and the Witt's had for Native Americans Rock Point and Round Rock paid for the burial expense for a long time employee, Pretty Boy, who is buried near the Witt's and the Blair's at Memorial Gardens in Farmington. Son, Michael (Blair) also remembers Granie & Papa hauling water to the ranch near Blanco and experiencing branding cows and eating Rocky Mountain Oysters cooked on a hot branding iron. Granie was a workhorse. Wherever Papa was, Granie was by his side doing whatever he was doing and helping in any way she could.
Granie and Papa spent many hours at the trading posts playing cards with Cowboy and Mammy Witt, Buck Higdon, and Joe Wright. Granie taught her grandkids to play poker playing with matchsticks sitting at the dining room table. Emy Wright Sanchez remembers--”Marilene made me a beautiful yellow dotted Swiss dress. I ran around in my training pants and red cowboy boots. That dress paved the way for Mama to be able to make me pretty dresses. I would actually wear them too. Dar and I were dad's tomboys. Raymond would get me and take me up on the Mesa to see the cactus roses each spring. He was the one that told me that the song ‘The Yellow Rose of Texas’ was written about cactus roses. I have a cactus or two planted in my front yard. Each spring when it blooms I think about Ray and Marilene Blair, their love for everyone, their sense of humor, and their never-ending kindness.
When my dad (Joe Wright) had his first heart attack in the early nineties....I was sitting in my sister, Darlene's, living room in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I spent the entire night sitting in a chair next to Poppy. I was sitting there at a low; God was with me because Marilene Blair called to see how he was doing. She had somehow found Dar's home number. I listened as she talked to Dar then Marilene said, ‘Put Emy Jo on.’ I walked to the phone and Marilene assured me that dad was a fighter and that God was in his corner. He was going to pull through. He did, and I've never forgotten that it was Marilene that brought me that news. She wouldn't be put off or stopped before she talked to me personally.
We know she's in Heaven and we'll see her again, but I can't imagine this Earth without her. She is with Raymond and rejoicing up there waiting for the rest of us. Marilene's feet are on gold, as they say when they talk about Heaven. In the Bible in John 14 it says that Jesus said, ‘Behold I go to prepare a place for you (he was talking to his disciples and the rest of us). In my father's house are many mansions. If it were not so I would not have told you.’ Marilene has an eternal place, that no money or riches can buy--Our Heavenly Father has had it for her. Every time we talked or wrote to each other, Marilene talked about her growing family and how Raymond would have loved the little ones that she was blessed with after he went on to Heaven. Anyone hearing what I am sharing needs to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were and are loved not only by Marilene but by God. God is Marilene's source of strength, wisdom, and love. Another verse I think of when I think about Marilene is Psalm 116:15 ‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his Saints. Marilene was a believer (saint) in the Lord. She wasn't a showy--go and blab about everything sort of gal--but her prayers surround us all.”
Papa and Granie had a great love for Papa’s brothers and their wives (Uncle Lige (Elijah Blair), Aunt Claudia (Claudia Nell Caler Blair), Uncle Brad (Bradley Blair), and Aunt Carolyn (Carolyn Becknagel)) who they helped get started as Indian Traders working with Uncle Rock (McGee) in several trading posts across the reservation. Elijah Blair, youngest sibling of Papa, remembers the first time that Papa and Granie came back to visit Pop (James Lee Blair) and Mom (Maggie Ison) Blair (Papa’s parents) on Rock House. Pop always had a big vegetable garden and he always planted flowers at the ends for all the rows; he even planted flowers around the edges of the yard. Pop was a real horticulturist; but you wouldn’t have called him that because you probably would have gotten shot. Pop went into the house and said, “Mag, we’ve got a real problem; that woman (Granie), she out there cutting up my flowers and says she’s gonna cook’em and eat them.” The flower Pop was referring to was asparagus. We ate everything back in the hills of Kentucky, but Pop thought that the asparagus was just a flower that grew tall and had pretty white blossoms.
Granie’s niece Lucinda (Blair Nash) writes, “She was an important piece of my past. I can remember walking to her house after we attended church services at the tiny Trinity Lutheran Church in downtown Farmington. Aunt Marilene always welcomed us with open arms. It was a thrill to see what 'craft' she was involved with at the time. It might have been gardening, cooking, ceramics, canning. or quilting. Aunt Marilene was always busily creative.”
Granice’s niece Nancy (Blair Mike) remembers. “I know that she helped my parents (Brad and Carolyn Blair) when they lived on the Navajo Reservation. My mom would go to Farmington and stay with Aunt Marilene when she was pregnant. I do remember all her needlework/sewing. I still have baby gowns that she embroidered when I was a baby. When I was in college, my best friend and I stopped by her house. She always offered you something to eat. My friend and I talked about our hopes and dreams as young women. She encouraged us to pursue our dreams. She always told me that she thought Tsaile, Arizona was one of the prettiest places on the reservation. My last memory: My oldest son Elijah and I were driving past her house and saw her lying on the ground. We thought "Oh no, she's fallen". We stopped to help her and she said that the weeds just had to be pulled!”
Granie’s nephew, Larry (McGee) remembers, “There was a green "box car racer" in the garage at the Blair house. Uncle Raymond had all the tools you would need to fix anything. We would ride the Box Car down the hill and then drag it back up. Auntie Marilene was always good for a pop and a snack for her wayward nephew. She would just smile at me and shake her head, and tell us not to kill ourselves.” Larry’s wife, Jacque (Knudsen) remembers Marilene at girls’ camp in Decker Park at Vallecito. She remembers the leaders getting dunked in the creek the same as the campers. Jacque also relates that Marilene wouldn't tolerate inactiveness from the girls under her care. She was always rounding up the stragglers. God blessed us with her fiery personality.
Granie’s niece, Kathy (Blair-Ingeholm), remembers the many fishing trips to Stoner staying in a cabin and fishing the Dolores River. Kathy says, “You had to know Aunt Marilene back then; she yelled and hollered all the time.” I have to admit I was a little afraid of her at times. I went crying to Mom that Aunt Marilene cussed at me. Mom asked, “Kathy what did she say to you?” concerned, I’m sure. “She told me to go get my cotton pickin socks and shoes on!” I know that she thought that I was going to catch my death of a cold. It was cold at Stoner and being kids I’m sure we’d been playing in the river and our feet were red and wet and there I was running around barefoot.
“I remember always going to Uncle Buzz (Raymond) & Aunt Marilene’s on weekends when we’d come to town from the Trading Post. We always got together with our cousins; by that I mean, all of Uncle Brad (Blair) and Aunt Carolyn’s kids and all of Uncle Rock (McGee) & Aunt Ruthie’s kids-- that’s a lot of kids-- and we kept the streets hot running back and forth between the houses playing. I remember clearly chasing after all the boy cousins wanting to do whatever they were doing, and nearly getting my fingers cut off in Michael’s (Blair) bedroom door because the boys kept trying to get away from us girls. Aunt Marlene would give us something to do craft wise to keep us from bothering the boys. Those were the best of times. I only wish that our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren could build memories together as much as we all did. I never remember being at Aunt Marilene’s without her sewing machine being set up, or her not having some project going; I think she could make anything. I hope that my love for arts and crafts may have rubbed off on me because of Aunt Marilene.
To know Granie was to love her, yet another younger generation of nieces and nephews remember her fondly-- Granie’s nephew, Donald (Reeves) remembers squirting her with squirt guns along with Larry (Knudsen). She vowed she would get them back. She did--one fine day she called his dad, Don (Reeves) and had him put a garden hose down their sleeping bags when they were sleeping in the back yard.
Karen (Reeves), Terri (Reeves Cox), Michael (Reeves) and Pierre (Herring) all remember walking home from Tibbetts Junior High and Lions Pool and stopping in at Aunt Mariline’s house for a chat and cookies frequently.
Best of all Granie was an outstanding mother, grandmother, Great grandmother, and great great grandmother. Granie spent most of her live serving her family. Michael and Diane blessed Granie and Papa with grandchildren early so she was a young grandmother and was energetic and involved in her grandchildren’s lives. Her grandchildren loved spending time with her and would walk to her house and drop in on their way home from school, or church, or just because. Granie spent a lot of time traveling back and forth from Round Rock to town so that she could spend time with us. Our childhood memories are full of family traditions and holidays spent at Papa and Granie’s house. When we were young children Papa and Granie would buy all of us a present on each grandchild’s birthday because they didn’t want anyone to be left out when one child opened a gift. Granie taught us to love our families by her example. Granie loved us all something fierce. She was very protective of all of us and if anyone dared to cross one of us or hurt one of us, they would be sure to bear the wrath of Granie.
Son, Michael (Blair) remembers how many times Papa and Granie bailed us out with great generosity and kindness. My mother was a generous compassionate and loving person. Starting at Mancos Creek, my parents helped Native American families who were in need--taking them food or giving them cash. At Christmas, we spent hours filling brown bags with a variety of Christmas candy, oranges, and other fruit that was available at the time. My parents had a policy of not selling pawn that had gone dead; allowing families to redeem their items, especially for ceremonies, weddings or other occasions. Dad told me many times, “They will be in to pay the amount borrowed at lambing seasoning or when they sold their wool.” As a family we were richly blessed by their example and sacrifices they made for Diane and myself. I am very proud of my heritage and for having parents that loved me and cared for my children when they were in need. Working on the reservation and seeing the great love both my parents had for their Native American friends and neighbors formed my respect for people of all cultures. I treasure the many hunting and fishing trips I spent with both. Going to Canada when I was a scout holds a special place in my heart.
Once when drunks were fighting Papa, Granie got her shotgun and ran the two off with several blasts. Granie was fiercely loyal to her family and did many charitable things for siblings Uncle Mont (Bloomfield), Aunt Grace (Herring), and especially Aunt Ruthie (McGee). She was a real tease and once while Skipper (McGee) played a trick knocking on her front door he was caught by a policeman who brought him to the door. When asked if she knew the young man she said she had never seen him before, and let Skipper squirm before telling the officer he was her nephew.
Granie swatted me, Dwight (McGee), and Dennis on more than one occasion treating everyone as a member of her family. Their garden and fruit trees were Papa’s pride and Granie’s nightmare as they continued to produce well beyond what we needed as a family. Sitting around the table as a family stringing Kentucky Greasy beans is burned into all our memories -- oh how Michael misses the taste of those special green beans. The Granie love showed for each and every grandchild was a hallmark for us all.
After Nell and Michael got married and Tammy was born, Nell spent three weeks with Granie and Papa. One very cold day in January, Granie decided to wash the windows. Nell did all she could to postpone giving Tammy a bath until she finally gave up and started. When the bath was completed and Tammy was dressed Granie came in and proclaimed, "I didn't think you were ever going to give Tammy a bath." When we returned to Farmington, Papa and Granie were standing on the back porch. When Nell got out of the car Granie rushed over taking Tammy, and unwrapping Tammy proclaimed, "Well, Raymond, she is still alive!"
Kimberly (Williams Moss) remembers, “When I was a child we called all my mom’s cousins our Aunts and Uncles and their children we called our cousins. I still think of all of them that way. When we visit Farmington (New Mexico) and attend church I tell my kids--That’s my Aunt Cindy (McGee Arrington), that’s my Uncle Don (Reeves) & Aunt Grace (McGee Reeves)--they say, ‘Doesn’t your Mom only have one brother?’ Then I start in on that’s my cousin, that’s my cousin, that’s my cousin. One time they asked me if we were related to the entire town. I told them, ‘it’s a bit confusing but we are all related and we were all raised together as one big family and I love them so just go with it.’ That spirit of abundance of love and acceptance of everyone as a family member has helped me as a parent with a blended family to have a fluid home, whomever is in our home is welcomed as a family member--the more the merrier! What a great blessing of love I have received from being in this family.
What I remember about Granie is that all the men in this extended family, and I’m including the men that have married into the clan the men because Kevin Eddy and James Larsen certainly fit into this group--all of these men--they LOVED to heckle my Granie. They could get her all tied up and worked up and they loved it!! It started with my Papa; he would love to tease my Granie, and it just went down from there. Anything that those cousins of mine could do to tease Granie they would do. They would get her going and she would be in a tizzie! Granie had some unique sounds that I can’t duplicate and she had some Granisms that we need to write down and collect. We sure had a lot of fun watching them tease my poor Granie, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t ever stop. I think they did it to make her swear. This may shock some of you but my Granie used to swear. I LOVED it when my Granie would swear, she had three favorite words and it so made me laugh whenever she said them. Because she said them, I think it’s okay for me to say them too but my kids don’t think I’m a very good mom when I do, but I think of my Granie when I say them and it makes me happy.
Granie had a great respect and faith in the priesthood. She set a good example for all of us by revering the priesthood and those who hold it. She always insisted that we have a prayer at her home and get down on our prayer bones with her. She always showed us her faith in God and her love for her Heavenly Father. I know she prayed over all of her family constantly. Because of her vigilant watch over her family it made it easy for me to know that our Heavenly Father cares and watches over each one of us just like my Granie.
There has been some speculation as to who is the favorite grandchild, but I know who it is; it is all of us. Papa and Granie were like a second set of parents to all of their grandchildren. We were SO lucky to live close to them when we were growing up. They knew everything we were doing. No one could worry like Granie; she was the best worrier around. She worried about her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren like no other. I don’t know why anyone else spent any time worrying because Granie worried enough for all of us. Granie never minced words and if she thought you were doing something wrong she let you know it in no uncertain terms. She would track us down if she wanted to find us. She kept tabs on all her kids and grandkids. Granie was magic; she had a surefire way to get us to stop fighting and arguing when we were kids--she would sing “Love at Home” or “Let us Oft Speak Kind Words to Each Other” and Granie couldn’t sing so we would stop so that she would stop singing.
I remember one time most of us grandchildren had the chickenpox. The sick kids all stayed up at Granie’s house and she tended us. I also remember my senior year of high school and I had strep throat really, really bad and they wanted to put me in the hospital. Granie said, “No way, I’ll tend her.” And she did. I didn’t want to eat because of the pain. She would try and beg and bully me to eat and even warmed up Dr. Pepper and fed it to me with a spoon to get me to eat/drink. When we had earaches she would warm olive oil in a teaspoon on the stove and pour it into our ears and stuff them with cotton.
When I was in my later high school years and worked late at night, Granie would bring me delicious dinners covered with aluminum foil still piping hot. Her food was always delicious, she cooked with lots of butter and lard. Granie never used a recipe, she just cooked great food!
Granie and Papa loved going to Mexico with Aunt Grace and Uncle Charles (Herring). Papa would fish and Granie would search for and shop for sea shells. I’ve never seen anyone with a love for sea shells like Granie. Papa would let her fill up their old pickup and haul them back from Mexico, she would clean them, sort them, and she filled the garage and house with her collection. I have a nicely cataloged collection that I brought out just last week to share with my kindergarten class thanks to my Granie’s hard work, they are all cataloged and labeled.
Whenever you left her house she would flip the light on and off. She would never say goodbye. She felt that it was bad luck, so it was hard to talk to her on the phone; you never knew when to hang up the phone.
I remember Papa and Granie encouraging me to go to BYU and I drove them crazy changing my major all of the time and taking forever to graduate. Even when I was at college I probably talked to them at least every single week. They transported me back and forth from college many times and each time they came to visit, they would fill my cupboards with food. My roommates loved it when my grandparents came to visit. They were the most generous people you will ever meet. But at the same time they were frugal, I remember my Granie folding aluminum foil and washing and reusing milk cartons, bread bags, etc. Without their encouragement and help I would’ve never finished my degree. I owe them my education and along with that the ability to support my family many times over when I needed to, my love for family, my love for the gospel, my everything; they are the glue that binds our family together, they were the core that our universe revolved around.”
Granie’s favorite granddaughter, Tammy (Blair Eddy), writes--”It is nearly impossible to sit down to write a few or even a single stand out memory of a person who was one of the most influential forces in my life. As I do so I am flooded with feelings of intense love and gratitude. When I think of the blessings in my life, the fact that I was blessed to be the granddaughter of Raymond and Marilene Blair is paramount among the greatest. As I have become a grandmother myself, one of the gifts I wish to bestow on my grandchildren would be the greatest that I was given--unconditional love. As a young child there was never a time when Grandma and Grandpa were around that I didn't feel as though I was not the most important, most loved, most accomplished, most beautiful, most spectacular grandchild there ever was. I am sure that every other grandchild felt the same way. I remember after Grandpa died when we were going through some of his things, I found a small newspaper clipping of when I played softball as a 11 year old girl. Tammy Blair had hit a home run and her Grandpa had saved the newspaper for me years later. Both he and Grandma always made me feel special. They were always there to encourage, love, praise, and to spoil us!
I think the thing I will always remember about Granie is how industrious she was. I don't recall ever seeing her sitting idly by. She was always doing something, whether it was cleaning, cooking, sewing, gardening, fixing something--she was always busy. I always admired her for her hard working nature. Her house always smelled clean, and when you went there you were guaranteed that you too would receive a thorough, wash rag, rub down bath. I loved when she would put my hair in sponge curlers for Sunday.
When we moved to California I missed living by them every day. I use to sneak and call them on the phone and then would get in trouble when the phone bill came. I had to--it just didn't seem right that they were so far away. When I was 16, I remember having a bishop’s interview when Grandma and Grandpa were visiting. I recall the bishop telling me to spend time with them because they wouldn't be here forever. "Yeah right," I remember thinking. When Kevin and I were married I remember seeing them both in the sealing room and hugging them afterwards. There were tears in their eyes. I now know why. I am so grateful that Kevin was able to know both of them and to love them the way that I do.
When we moved to Farmington 20 years ago, it was Granie who was waiting for us at our new little rental home doing what she always did best, cleaning. That was the beginning of a 20-year unique experience for my children, who came to know their Great Grandma in a way that most children never have the opportunity to do. For many years we would go to Granie's every Monday night for Family Home Evening. These nights were filled with pizza and memories that can never be replaced or replicated. There was an urgency she had in her desire for these precious grandchildren of hers to listen and learn about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She wanted them to understand what it meant to her.
Even when she was in the rest home one Monday night we went to visit her. I told her it was Monday night and asked her if she knew why we were there. She said "Because it's Family Home Evening." I will always cherish and remember these nights with her. Another very important thing that she taught me was the love and importance of family. When I was a young girl one time I was helping her set the table for dinner. I accidentally knocked a pitcher of fake flowers off the table and broke it. I was devastated when I learned that it was a pitcher that had been painted by her sister Genevieve, who died when Grandma was a young girl. Granie told me not to cry or worry about it and that it was okay, "You can't take these things with you." Years later, when I lost a sister of my own I remembered that experience when my own granddaughter broke a little trinket that I had taken after Samantha passed away. I was grateful for the way Granie handled that day and taught me.
Because of them I have been blessed with gospel roots that are deep and abiding. I have the opportunity to extend to future generations this same love and conviction and I hope that I will be able to do so with the fervor and determination that was shown to me these past 48 years. I know that Families are Forever !! and I have Raymond and Marilene Blair to thank for including me in this eternal bond. I love you Grandpa and Grandma.”
Granie’s favorite granddaughter, April (Williams), says that she remembers all of us grandkids playing at Granie and Papa’s house probably being loud and obnoxious and Papa always asking us if we wanted to go to the ‘Num Num’ store. After spending two days traveling in a vehicle with three young children, she had a new perspective on maybe why Papa was always giving us money to go. Granie continued doing it after Papa passed, perhaps for the very same reason? Granie fed April and Mom most nights as mom worked long hard hours to try to make the best life she could have. Granie took care of them no matter what. April says Granie was one in a million. Granie and Papa were special people; we will never know anyone else like them.
Granie’s favorite grandson, Shane (Blair) remembers Grandpa and Grandma taking him to the MTC in Provo prior to his mission. Shane spent a lot of time tenderly taking care of Granie during her later years, dropping by her home to visit her bring her dinner, and making sure she was okay.
Granie’s favorite grandaughter Melissa (Blair Larsen) remembers how special Christmas was with Granie and Papa especially one at Round Rock and both her and Samantha getting a doll. She also recalls Granie also tirelessly cooked a multitude of Sunday dinners for our huge families; amongst our favorites were chop suey, spaghetti and huge meatballs, hamburgers, rotisserie chicken, pigs in a blanket, lots of vegies from Papa’s garden, stuffed cabbages, shrimp fried rice, fried chicken, and Granie’s omelets. We loved gathering together at Papa and Granie’s house and we spent tons of time there eating them out of house and home. Perhaps that’s why Papa felt he had to have such a big garden and Granie felt like she had to spend hour upon hour canning all of the abundance so that we could all have food storage. Melissa also remembers going to camp with Granie and having Granie insist that both her and Samantha having to do the same things as the New Mexico girls when they were California young women.
Granie’s favorite grandson, Pat (Blair), remembers fishing on the Delores while Papa and Grannie watched from the road while everyone caught their limit just prior to moving to California.
Granie’s favorite grandson, Caleb (Blair), remembers, Papa and Granie standing on the Stoner bridge eating ice cream while he and his brothers fished down the Delores River. He says, “As a child I remember seeing the blue Ford pickup with the camper turn the corner headed to our house in Anaheim. It filled me with joy to know that Papa and Granie were here to visit and soon to come were limitless Oreos and Sixlets candy. I also remember how strange I thought Granie was to love Meow (Papa’s cat) so much that she would use tweezers to debone that smelt every single night. That cat was spoiled but she did it because she loved her man more than words. I loved how socks never went bad because she would darn them for us and I miss the way she used to dry my hair like a tornado with a towel after showers.” Caleb lived with Granie in her later years and had to carry her often. Tammy (Blair Eddy) said he helped carry her to bed and as he was holding her and cradling her in his arms she was reminded of the book, I’ll Love You Forever.
Her Great Grandchildren loved to go to Granie’s house because Granie would figure out what kind of soda you like and would stock her small refrigerator with it. No matter when you dropped in to see her she would have your favorite soda in her refrigerator. Her pantry was stocked full of all of her children’s and grandchildren’s favorite drinks. Her dishwasher wasn’t used to wash dishes; it was used to hold cookies and candies for her grandchildren and great grandchildren. They knew that they could head for the cookie jar at Granie’s and that it would always have a treat for them.
Granie was a devoted member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and cherished the fact she was sealed in the Mesa Temple to Raymond and all of her children. Granie and Papa served countless hours in LDS Church service building the scout building and working on the church park. They pulled weeds from the Church lawn and we would find them frequently working at the Genealogical library. The Young Men and Women in the Farmington, New Mexico Stake loved the many hours that Granie and Papa spent with them, especially the many years they worked as Camp Director.
In closing I’m pleased to be able to share through the miracle of technology something that Granie’s favorite granddaughter, Samantha posted on her blog. Prior to Samantha’s passing. Samantha posted this entry on her blog on Tuesday, February 10, 2009:
Her smile can light up a room,
her presence is of grace
Her opinions are heard without one word
but by the look upon her face
Her touch is so gentle,
her heart as big as the moon
Her spirit is kindhearted
and warm as a summer’s afternoon
Her hair a river of gray,
her eyes radiant as the sun
Her time she’ll take no matter how long
until the work is done
Her kisses are so soft,
her hugs preferred from the rest
My granny is mine forever and ever
and she’ll always be the best
Everybody that knew Granie knows that she was a character--there is no one quite like Marilene Joy Bloomfield Blair—that amazing one of a kind lady left her family with a legacy of love and a belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, faith in God, reverence for the priesthood, charity, love of family, the knowledge that they are loved unconditionally, an outstanding work ethic, the spirit of generosity, and the threat that if they do anything she doesn’t approve of that she will let us know about it in no uncertain terms when we meet again. We love you Friend, Sister, Auntie, Mom, Granie, Great Granie, and Great Great Granie! Marilene’s family rejoices because of their faith in Christ and the knowledge that she is back in the company of her family and several others that preceeded her in death.
If you are curious about our belief in Famlies are Forever and life after death please click here!