Goodbye Grandma Tyler

Anybody who knew my grandmother, Bernice Tyler, knew that she was an opinionated and strong-willed person. But, she also had a caring side and did a lot of volunteer work at the Poynette Area Food Pantry, Meals on Wheels and was involved in her church.

As the news sunk in that my grandma had passed away, I began to think of the happy, good and even funny times that I had with her. I would like to share a few of those with you.

Like so many times, we went over to the house in Arlington. She would let us create stuff with her scraps in her very own craft room. That’s right – she had a craft room before Martha Stewart made it popular.

On many of those visits, she would have the radio on and tuned to WIBU. She also would call in and request that they play the chicken dance. When that song would play over the airwaves, we would drop what we were doing and dance to the song. When it was over, we would just pick up where we left off on our craft creations.

In fact, the radio station created a policy that limited how many times the chicken dance song could be played in a day. I found this out after a coworker wrote a story about the radio station and they asked me if I knew a Bernice Tyler.

I also will never forget her love for Siamese cats. She had it all. T-shirts, coffee cups, clocks, wall hanging art, stuffed animals and her very own real life set of Siamese cats – Sam and Samantha, who I thought were the longest living cats in the whole world.

Years later, I found out that all of grandma’s cats were named Sam and Samantha – depending on if they were male or female. In total – one Samantha and four Sams.

One out of the many times I had my very own sleepover at her house. I woke up the next morning and came down to the kitchen. I saw my grandmother; she was wearing one of her Siamese cat t-shirts and was drinking out of one of her many Siamese cat coffee cups.

Just enjoying the paper. How many of us could pull off that look? I know I couldn’t do it. But she made it work.

And then there’s the time that I saw my grandmother laugh so hard she cried. It was her first time using a Slip ‘N Slide and the footage of that event made it in a montage on the TV show America’s Funniest Home Videos. When she saw it again on TV, she laughed even harder than when it happened.

One other time was when we pulled a bait and switch with the Thanksgiving turkey. I will never forget her face when we opened the oven door and a tiny Cornish game hen was sitting in the place of the 25-pound turkey that we were cooking most of the day.

My grandmother also never found a word search that she couldn’t master and enjoyed any card game; even ones to this day that I have no clue on how to play. She preferred carnations to roses and enjoyed watching soap operas and collected Milk glass dishware.

On my last visit seeing her, she was watching a rerun of the “Golden Girls” and she commented that Betty White was her favorite and I told her she was mine, too, and we both smiled.

I will choose to remember those times of her life.

On the day of her funeral, we were touched as a family on how many people took the time out of their day to come to the service. Such as the Hansons and the Kallenbacks who were neighbors to my grandparents when they lived in Arlington. Also, all of my grandmother’s girlfriends that came; many of them had been friends longer than I been on this Earth.

As a family, we appreciate all the visits, phone calls, food and the outpourings of caring for my grandfather, Martin, at this time.


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