The Autumn of 1969: Grandma Moves Into The Old Mabey Homestead

By Richard Mabey Jr.


In late August of 1969, my maternal grandmother, Lydia Kemmerer, came to visit with us. Grandpa had just taken ill and was now in the hospital. Grandma found it hard to live alone at her home on Boonton Avenue in Boonton. I remember, it was just about a week or so before school started that Mom, Grandma, my sister Patti and I would visit Grandpa, every day, at the old Riverside Hospital in Boonton.


This was the time period just before Grandpa was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The doctors were just beginning to run a series of medical tests to see what it was that was robbing Grandpa of his health.


Grandma slept in the spare room, which was the bedroom that was on the right-hand side as soon you climbed up the stairs of the old Mabey Homestead. As if the odds were ten million to one, just days before Grandma moved in with us, Aunt Helen left to visit her sister Eleanor in Upstate New York.


There was a little desk in the bedroom that looked out to the woods behind our house. In the morning time, before we all gathered for breakfast, Grandma would sit at that little desk and read her Bible. Since she kept her bedroom door opened, one morning when I walked down the hallway from my bedroom, I couldn’t help but to notice Grandma sitting at the little desk. Her Bible was open to the Book of Matthew. And, the fingers of Grandma’s hands were intertwined, her forehead rested upon her hands as she was silently praying.


I guess at that moment in time, I was innately checking on Grandma, to see if she was okay. It was early morning and Dad had just left for work. I only looked into Grandma’s bedroom for a few seconds, but the scenario of Grandma earnestly praying, deeply touched my heart.


I remember going back to my own bedroom and earnestly praying at my own desk. I took out my Bible and read a few passages and returned to praying for Grandpa to come home safely.


Grandma Kemmerer was a soft-spoken woman. She had an immensely kind heart. She was a most, deeply religious woman. The ordeal of seeing her beloved husband, the only man whom she ever loved, go through a myriad of medical tests, wore heavily upon Grandma’s heart, mind, and soul.


Autumn came upon us that year, in all of its colorful glory. The green leaves of the maples and oaks changed to colors of lemon yellow, bright orange, and burnt red. The air began to change from sun-filled warmth to a crisp, cool, coldness. Coats were dug out from the back of the closet.


When I school started, I so dreaded not being able to go to the hospital during the day to see Grandpa. I would bring my Bible to school with me and during my study hall periods, quietly read the sacred pages. And, then secretly pray within for Grandpa to come home, safe and healthy again.

To be continued.


Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at Please place the wording “My Life Weekly” in the subject line.

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