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1939 Phyllis 2023

Phyllis Ann (Lambert) Wilson

July 26, 1939 — June 11, 2023

There are so many important things to learn when you’re a little boy that your parents can’t teach you. What’s the difference between frogs and toads, how far away is the moon? Such big important things to worry about, and you always took the time to help me find the answers. You taught me how to play cards and shoot whisky, important lessons every grandmother should teach their grandson when the time comes.

Phyllis was born Phyllis Ann Lambert July 26th 1939, in Bangor, Maine, to Howard Lambert, and Clara Severence. She was the middle of three girls, with one younger brother.  Her and her siblings Ramona, Gail, and Chet grew up together on their father’s farm in Brewer. Hiding under the legs of giant work horses, and walking barefoot through the pastures, which, if you ask her, is why she had big feet. Her loving sister would often craft her fresh mud pies to eat, until she grew out of the taste. Searching for pussy willows that would turn into kittens if you left them under the stove, the three sisters shared a special bond throughout her life, despite the physical distance that came between them often trading, jokes, pranks, and ever evolving craft projects with each other in the mail. She attended and graduated Brewer High School in the class of 1957, a proud Brewer Witch. She married twice, though I’m not sure she would’ve counted either of them if you asked her today. 

She moved to Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, and raised her three children, Cheryl Dole, Stephen Young, and Karen Wilson, working as a receptionist before embarking on a career in food service. She worked at Dunkin Donuts, pulling late night shifts, and getting to know all the characters that need coffee at all h ours from the local police chief, to the local mafia. Dunkin became a restaurant called Ginos, and she stayed on, and when Burger King acquired the property, she was asked to stay on with the company again. She worked at several restaurants in the area as a manager until reaching retirement forming friendships with her coworkers that would last throughout her lifetime. My mom, my dad, and many of their childhood friends had their first jobs working with her. She lived in an apartment on Frank Street that I remember very well. It was tucked away from the main road and good for slow walks for people with bad knees, or little legs. People, who wanted to look for rocks, or jump on boulders, or run from snakes, could find all these activities at the Eastview Apartments. 

 She would often watch us when we were children, taping movies from the Disney channel for us like Ferngully, and Hocus Pocus, the latter Sarah called Hokey Pokey would watch several times a week at any time of year, with incredible dedication, and regularity, accurately quoting the script from memory. After Frank Street, she moved into the upstairs apartment in our childhood home on Howe Ave. How lucky can you be as a grandchild to have your grandmother living right upstairs? She always had time for coffee, tea for the grandkids until they were old enough, and would listen to the problems of a nine year old boy with all the seriousness and attention that you give a judge. Every passing birthday came with a chocolate birthday cake, with chocolate frosting, and every Christmas came with the same macaroni necklace I made her in Kindergarten. Christmas was her favorite, I think because we all came together to use the Blue Willow china.  From her decorations, to her Christmas Village, Stockings hung for each pet, and molasses cookies crossed with a fork, just like her mother made before her, all to the crooning tunes of Elvis Presley’s Christmas classics. Thanksgiving had Pies of all flavor, and always a chocolate pie for me and Nickolas. 

She remembered everything about you, and always knew what was going on with every cousin, niece, and nephew, no matter how many greats involved, and could catch you up on the whole family and their pets over a mug of black coffee. When we left Howe Ave, she moved to 95 Elm Street, apartment 312, and later 303. She was excited to have her own space, and her contagious smile, and sunny style earned her a great many friends. Her independence shone as she became the handy woman, helping her friends with sautering, and other small DIY projects with her handy toolbox. The support system her and her friends had for her and have for each other is heartwarming, and the truest example of community I’ve had the privilege to see. Her friends and family meant the world to her, and she was always happy to help in any way she could. She was someone I could confide in without fear of judgment, and I hope I can carry some of the light she brought into the world forward in the things she taught me, and the ways of being I learned from her. She leaves a loving family in her wake, all of us better for knowing her.

You loved me at my darkest, when the world would’ve looked away. Your smile was the sunshine on my loneliest day. No one will ever love me the way you did. I think that’s pretty universal. It’s funny how your grandmother can spend your whole life gassing up your smallest victories, and dismissing your biggest mistakes. It never mattered how bad I messed up, she never thought any less of me. Phyllis was a strong amazing woman who guided me in everything that she could throughout the years. She was without a doubt the most amazing person I’ve ever known, and a fighter to the end. She was so witty and funny, she kept us smiling with her as much as she possibly could, and it’s so hard to picture facing the world without her in it. If I’d had all of time and space I could never have told her how much I love her, but I like to think I tried. For all the stars that had to align to make me your grandson, I guess I’m just lucky. I love you so much Gramma. You’ll be with me in my heart forever.

 

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