Esther Olson Christoph (1920-2016)

Roy and Esther Christoph

[ Roy and Esther ]

January 20 – It is not easy for me to write this blog about my late sister-in-law, Esther (my brother Roy’s wife). Actually she always called me “Little Sister,” so by the time I knew what a sister-in-law was, I didn’t think of her as anyone other than my sister. (Just a quick aside: as I sit here and think back about all of those young ladies who became my brothers’ wives, I don’t remember ever feeling that those in-laws weren’t in the same category as the real sister I had. We were all just one big family, and nobody thought otherwise!)

I have several memories that come back to me from her wedding to the first-born Christoph son, Roy, on May 7, 1938. Now that was seventy-eight years ago! A long time, but to them, it was short, I know, because they loved each other so dearly. (If Roy had lived, he would have celebrated his one hundredth birthday on January 17. Esther would have been 97 on April 23.)

Now to the wedding. As soon as Mom found out that her firstborn son would be taking a beautiful bride, she began to worry about what my sister and I would wear for the very special event. Never before in my almost-eleven-years of life had I had a “store-bought” dress! No matter to me because I would rather be running around outside in a homemade dress than wearing a special that came from the store. Mom must have scrimped and saved for many weeks before she had enough to take the two of us girls to the big Boston Store downtown to pick out those dresses. As I remember, they were short-sleeved, made of itchy material and lace, with a tight waist and billowing skirt. Mine was white, while my sister’s was pink. In the store I just about scratched my skin into red spots. Talk about putting up with that just so I could go to a wedding!

Back home from the store, we flung the dresses loosely over the coat rack and never tried them on again till the day of the wedding, probably six months later! After the ceremony, all of our family walked up the stairs to talk with Esther’s family in their second floor home. The conversation was not very interesting to the kids, so we just sat around after we had eaten the delicious food and hoped we could go home pretty soon. Finally, Mom told us it was time to leave, and we must be sure to thank Esther’s mother for her hospitality.

160120_RoyEsther60th

[ 60th Anniversary celebration ]

As we walked past Roy, he grinned and said, “OK, Sis. I’ll see you one of these days.” But what did he mean by that? When we reached the street, I asked Mom why he had said he would see us “one of these days,” and not that same night. “Well, Sis, when people get married, they don’t go back home and live with the family the way they did before then.” My next question. “Well, when IS he coming home?” Mom tried to explain the situation once again, but since I had never before experienced such a strange thing, I just didn’t understand. How well I remember the next morning. No Roy to be found. No matter where I looked, I couldn’t find him…and that was a really sad situation!

A few days later, (who could afford a long honeymoon in those days?) Roy and Esther drove up to our house for a visit. After a couple hours, they were ready to leave. Coming up to me, the new bride thanked me several times for letting her take my big brother away. “Remember, though, Sis, that you will always be my little sister, and I’ll take good care of your big brother!” Through the years, I found out more and more that she meant just what she said!

Actually, it’s a good thing she learned to take things without letting some of them bother her, because, when you’re just a kid of ten or eleven, you don’t understand what goes on in “big people’s” minds and hearts. How could I ever forget the “favorite doll” story that goes way back to the early weeks of her friendship (well, a little more than that) with Roy? They were sitting together on a bench down under our grape arbor by the creek. Don’t know what they were saying, but I remember what I said, right off the bat. “Hi, Esther.” Then, turning quickly to Roy, I asked if she knew about that beautiful doll that I was carrying so carefully to make sure I didn’t drop her and break her open-and-shut eyes. She was really precious, although at that time I thought dolls and other girls’ things weren’t anywhere near as neat as baseballs and bats! (Five brothers brought on that idea!)

Pete and EstherSo why did I enjoy cradling that doll, of all things! Because Jeanette had given her to me, and it wasn’t any special occasion like my birthday or Christmas. Now, who was Jeanette? Roy’s last girlfriend before he met Esther! And I wanted to be sure that Esther knew all of this story about that very special lady who had been so nice to me. “Want to hold her?” I asked as I handed the doll to Esther. I found that her reaction was a special kind that she always had even if things weren’t going the best. “I would really like to,” she said. “Thank you for letting me.” I didn’t laugh then because I didn’t understand what was going on, but as I have thought back on her next words, I know she really had a sense of humor. Turning to Roy, she asked sweetly, “Roy, wouldn’t you like to hold her, too?”

Later, after they were married and all was going well, Esther delivered her first-born, a boy named Tommy. How well I remember that sweet little boy the last time he visited us in our home. Now I didn’t like babies very much because they couldn’t do anything! But, since that little guy was the first son, grandson, and nephew, he was so special. After that visit, the little boy about three months old, died the very next day on my brother Pete’s birthday. Of course, I didn’t understand the feelings of the older family members, but I will never forget the sadness and the ride to the cemetery for the remarks and the burial. I could easily see that neither Roy nor Esther would ever be able to forget, either… (more tomorrow) – CHRIS

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1 Response to Esther Olson Christoph (1920-2016)

  1. Pingback: Daily Chores | Chris 'n' Dale

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