Grandma Sprague died this morning. She wasn't really my grandmother; she was my next-door neighbor for thirty years. She had a stroke a couple of weeks ago, and has been going downhill ever since then. (Why do we say "going downhill"? If I believe that she is headed home to a Heavenly Father, then shouldn't I say that she's been "going uphill" instead?)
I first knew Grandma Sprague--Millie Sprague--when she lived in the little yellow house on the flag lot next door to me with her husband, Albert. Hers was the flag-lot house; her daughter and son-in-law, Dolores and Lud Carlson, lived in the bigger house in front.
When my children were little, they loved to run next door to visit Grandma Sprague. She always had a beautiful garden, and she was happy to chat with the neighboring children. She usually had a piece of candy for them, which probably increased the frequency of their visits. Every Halloween she would prepare a special baggie of treats for each of my children, and she would save them for the kids until they came by in their costumes. She and Albert celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on July 11, 1981--I remember that, because that was the day that Kendra was born next door, in my house.
I also remember the night the ambulance came to take Albert; he had a heart attack, and he didn't come home from the hospital. Grandma Sprague, Millie, was lonely, but she had ready company with Dolores and Lud. She lived alone for a while, but the little house was too much to keep up, so Dolores and Lud made an apartment for her in their home, and she moved in with them, still my next-door neighbor.
When she moved out of her house, my parents bought it; they lived there for a year before deciding that Oregon City was too citified for them, and they headed to a rural mountain home north of Spokane.
If you go to the County Tax Assessor's office and look up the map of my neighborhood, you will notice that it is called the "Sprague Tract." Albert and Millie owned my house when it still had 5 acres attached to it--it had once been a small dairy. Albert sold off pieces of the property and developed the rest of it. He and Millie raised Dolores in the house I live in now, while building other houses around it. I know of at least 6 houses he built in my neighborhood.
I wish I had known Millie better. What a sad, sad cliché that is to repeat. The thought has come to me several times in the last few weeks that I ought to drop by and visit Millie and ask her more about her memories of our neighborhood and my home. I know she was loved by her family; I don't think she lacked for attention and comforts as so many older people do. But I am lacking for not having taken the time to be better acquainted.