(Garrel ‘Charley’ Millard
by Daughter Hazel ‘Millard’ Siebrecht

My mother was a character. She had a sneaky sense of humor and a mischievous way about her that was endearing. The boys in our family didn’t get their orneriness from Dad; he was pretty serious and businesslike. There was no meanness in Mom and she never intended any harm with her jokes.

Some of the best stories about Mom come from my sister-in-law. Sandy, who at various times in her and Dick’s married life, lived close to Mom and Dad. Sandy was always available to take her to town, to appointments and just to visit wtih her. The stories have been shared among us so many times that I called Sandy to make sure my facts were close to how they happened.

One of my favorite stories is the time Sandy, Mom and Dad, Mom’s sister Clarabel and her husband Glenn went to Conde Creek (above Lake Creek) to harvest elderberries. Dad was always big on providing the produce and Mom was then expected to preserve it. This was after most, of not all, of us kids were gone from home and there was no need to can a lot of elderberry jelly.
Sandy said they had picked several boxes for the folks and Clarabel and Glenn had all they wanted but Dad was not ready to quit. Mom said, “Arlin, I think we have plenty now.” Dad’s reply was, “Oh, there’s lots more, we might as well pick them.” As he left to take another box to the car, Mom got an empty box, put a layer of rocks in the bottom and covered them with elderberries. Dad came back and picked up the rock laden box to take to the car. As he hefted the box, her said, ‘Boy, you wouldn’t think elderberries would be so heavy.” Sandy said she didn’t think Dad even found out that he’d hauled a box of rocks home.

Sometimes her tricks backfired on her or things got so tense they threatened to turn ugly. One of these episodes happened the time she was shooting watermelon seeds at her son-in-law, Kenny. She was a good aim and had more than one occasion to hone this skill. After being the target several times, Kenny thought that our brother, Steve, was the culprit hitting him with watermelon seeds. Despite the fact that Steve, standing 6′ 4″ and around 200 pounds, adamantly denied it, Kenny, maybe 5’ 10″, 150 pounds, was ready to take him on. Mom never confessed her part in it; she just stopped shooting seeds at him. Sandy says she pulled this on our cousin, Hugh, who was visiting from Canada. He was sitting with his profile to Mom. She was shooting watermelon seeds which were hitting him on the cheek. Hugh was engrossed in visiting but every once in a while, he’d swipe at the ‘fly’ he thought was bothering him. When he got up to leave there were several seeds lying around where he had been sitting. Mom was so special to him; he’d never dream she would shoot seeds at him.

Another story Sandy shared was the time she picked Mom up to go to town. When they got back home, Dad was gone and Mom said he had probably gone to buy groceries. Sandy dropped Mom off and went on home. Later in the day, Mom called her and Sandy said she was talking really quiet and laughing so hard it was hard to understand her. She said when Dad came home she was around the corner and he didn’t see her. He brought in a paper bag of groceries and put them on the bar in the kitchen. When he left to get another load, Mom took the bag he’d brought in and put it under the counter. Dad came back with another couple bags and set them on the counter. He looked around, puzzled because the first bag had disappeared, shrugged and went back for more. As he left, she quietly took those and hid them. Soon he was back with another bag only to find the counter bare again. He looked around, muttered, “Well, I’ll be damned’” and turned to leave again. About that time the phone rang and Dad answered. Mom heard him say, “No, she’s not here, she went to town with Sandy.” She stepped out from her hiding spot and, knowing Mom, she undoubtedly had the impish grin on her face! She said Dad just shook his fist at her.

Another time she and Dad were in town. They were on their way home from what used to be the Big Y. They had bought grapes at the grocery store and apparently Mom was already enjoying them. They pulled up to the red light where a pedestrian, a young man, was waiting for the light. Mom threw a grape and hit him with it. She said he looked at her and, although they were the only ones around, she could tell he was thinking, “That sweet looking lady wouldn’t hit me with a grape.” So, when he looked away, she threw another one. He looked her way again and, as they drove off, she gave him one of her beautiful smiles.

In later years Mom had heart problems. She had Atrial Fibrillation; her heart would beat out of rhythm which was a problem because it could cause blood clots. Finally, it was determined that she needed to have her heart stopped, then shocked into rhythm again. Mom had an active dislike for Democrats, to put it very mildly! Sandy was bringing her in for a consultation appointment that day. As they were riding along Mom said she hoped the doctor wasn’t a Democrat because, if he knew she was a Republican, he might not restart her heart.

After the doctor had finished explaining to them what the procedure entailed, he asked Mom if she had any concerns. Sandy said Mom looked at her with a little grin and said, “You can tell him.” So, Sandy said she told him Mom was wondering whether he was a Democrat or a Republican. The doctor asked why in the world that would matter. When Sandy told him Mom was afraid he wouldn’t restart her heart if he was a Democrat she said he just sat there with his shoulders quietly shaking and then he said, “That’s funny, that is really funny.” Then, without committing himself one way or the other, he stated, “You don’t need to worry, I’ll definitely restart your heart.”

And Sandy wanted me to include the story of when Dick was a little guy. Mom had fried him an egg and the yoke was broken in it. Dick decided he didn’t want it but Mom told him he was going to eat it. She left him at the table and went on with her day. After a suitable length of time, Dick told her that he had eaten the egg and he went on with his day. Much later, as Mom was building a fire in the wood cook stove, she discovered the egg where Dick had thrown it in the wood box which was kept behind the stove. I can just hear Mom singing out, “Oh, Dick…” When he looked to see what she wanted, she was holding the cold fried egg up by one end, swinging it back and forth. It was covered with wood dust, slivers and no telling what else. Mom made him wash it off with a dipper-ful of cold water and then she oversaw the eating of the egg.

If you were acquainted with Mom at all, you probably have a story as funny as or funnier than these. She was a very intelligent woman, an artist, a wonderful mother, a source of unlimited patience, a positive thinker long before someone else cashed in on the Power of Positive Thinking. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t think of her and I do thank the Lord for giving her to me for my mother.

~ Hazel

Grandpa & Grandma Millard