Okay, so when we left the Bennett family in the 1980’s, Paul and I had been married and first up in the Bennett household, Ryan Patrick McBride was born on May 30, 1990. He was Anita’s first born child and Lloyd and Maxine were just ecstatic! He was the first new baby in ten years and he was named after his big cousin Wesley Ryan Lamb.
I had a difficult time getting pregnant and tried for two years before I became pregnant. Finally, a long awaited granddaughter was born to the Bennetts on September 14, 1992. One of the greatest attributes of Maxine was how faithful she was to her daily diary. I’m so glad that we have her words from that night.
Maxine stayed by my side, when my own mother was in too much pain to keep sitting with me. Maxine held my hand and comforted me, helping me get past the pain and fear, especially when my husband went to dinner with my parents. I was a little annoyed. But Maxine treated me as if I were her daughter. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me, that my mother trusted her enough to walk out the door, knowing Maxine was there for me.
The Bennett household was starting to fill out. As soon as I was released from the hospital, I had my parents drive me to the Bennett house, so that we could visit Grandpa Bill, and let him meet Taylor.
Bill and Bea were spending more time in Stockton. Grandpa Bill suffered a heart attack and Lloyd decided to move them to Stockton. Scott McBride was employed to build a “grandparents’ room” for Bea and Bill. As we readied to bring them to Stockton for good, Bill passed away on December 2, 1992.
We all flew to Salt Lake City that December. Taylor was only three months old. Paul’s aunt flew in with her son, his wife and grandchild, too. That little boy was about a year older than Taylor. Bill and Bea’s grandson Bill arrived from Canada. My mother in law Maxine had decided that since Paul and I, and Rodney and his wife were there, we should have time to go out and that she and Aunt Darlene would watch the babies. I agreed, although I was a little worried. My mother in law said there was nothing to worry about. Paul’s cousin Bill took us to downtown Salt Lake City for a few hours. When he returned to pick us up, we all got in the car and Bill says, “Boy, your baby has cried the whole time you were gone!” I said, “What? Taylor cried?” I was horrified, as I wouldn’t want my baby to be a nuisance to anyone. He said, “No, not your baby. Their baby.” Poor Darlene had a tough time babysitting her grandchild. Taylor, on the other hand, was as good as gold. I needn’t have worried. She was always good with her grandparents. As Maxine was in fairly great shape physically, she helped me with Taylor all the time. Truthfully, Taylor could stay with the Bennetts for weeks on end and she wouldn’t have cared.
By 1993, Lloyd had sold Grandma Bea’s house and moved her to Stockton. The room that had been planned for her and Grandpa Bill became her room for all of her furniture. She slept in the house, however, as she was 84 and didn’t want to sleep out in the annex by herself.
In approximately 1993, Lloyd rented a large condominium on the beach so that we could have a family vacation together. Everyone was there. Incidentally, Taylor tried to take out the entire Bennett family that weekend. She had been ill the day before we left but seemed better the day we were to go. However, Taylor shared her illness with the entire family. It was a rough weekend. But it was also so great to just spend time together as a family.
By February 15, 1995, Lauren Allison McBride joined our family. Maxine was always so good about keeping the kids. She played Tiddly-Winks, play-dough, plastic magnetic letters on the refrigerator and a kitchen drawer full of plastic toys. Well, she considered them toys, but really it was a junk drawer full of odds and ends. I can clearly remember there being a hot roller (look them up kids, girls used to use them on their hair) and a stray Lego or two. She would play word games and she could keep kids busy for hours.
Anita and Scott had moved to the Santa Cruz area, but by the time Lauren came along, they moved back to Stockton and our kids were together a lot at Grandma Maxine’s house. There were plenty of times that Maxine had plans but if someone was sick or we just needed someone to watch the kids, she was there.
Maxine worked at Village Oaks Elementary School and was a classroom aide. Lloyd had a master’s degree in psychology and worked as a counselor at the juvenile facility/jail in Stockton. He worked at Karl Holt School and was very well respected.
By the time Taylor was about 4, Grandma Maxine and Grandma Beatrice would take Taylor to Home Town Buffet every single Wednesday afternoon. They would pick her up from school or from the babysitter’s house and off they would go. Grandma Maxine would help Taylor get a plate of Taylor food (carrots, peas, chow-mein noodles, cheese and ice cream for dessert). She would get chocolate milk and their complete attention.
My father in law and Great Grandma didn’t say a word about Taylor being a girl, but I do believe they were relieved when I had a boy. On October 27th, 1997, Jacques was born. I did name him William Jacques Bennett, although we call him Jacques. Paul’s full name is William Paul, his father’s full name was William Lloyd and Great-Grandpa’s full name was William George Bennett. I didn’t think it was fair to break that tradition.
Playing at Grandma Bennett’s house became the hot spot for the Bennett grandchildren. The tire swing was replaced with a pillow case, where Grandma Bennett was always free to give someone a swing. Grandma Maxine always kept chickens in a hutch in the backyard. She would name them fun names like Mildred, Millicent, Penelope, Henrietta, and lots of cats like Blue and Gray.
By 1998, the Bennett family was in a good place, when tragedy struck. I hate having to remember that time because it was so heartbreaking and one of the worst things that our family had experienced. On October 22, 1998, Wesley Ryan Lamb died in a car accident. I’ll never forget my father in law calling at my office, to tell me of the awful news and to see if I could get in touch with Paul. I left right away and went straight to the Bennett’s house. Paul was a truck driver at this point and I knew it would be tough to get him on the phone (those pre-cell phone days). When I think of Wesley, I always picture that little boy face, his grin and bright blue eyes. Wes was Mary’s youngest boy and to lose him like we did, we were heartbroken. Jacques was only a year old and Taylor six. They never got to know Wes and I wish they had.
One day I had walked into the Bennett house and someone was playing the piano with such musicality and talent, it was shocking. Wesley was one hell of a pianist. I wish he’d had more time to pursue that craft. He was very talented and a sincere young man. Paul had spent a lot of time with both of his nephews when they were little. After we’d begun dating, his nephews hung out with my own nephews so we saw Brent and Wes a lot. The entire Bennett family lost a lot that day. When we sang “You are my Sunshine, my only Sunshine” at his funeral, it was heartfelt by everyone in attendance. Wesley Ryan Lamb is buried at the Stockton Rural Cemetery and his headstone has a VW bug symbol on it, along with the words Hakuna Matata.
My relationship with Maxine had started out distant (not on my part haha) but as we grew to know each other better, we began to like each other more and more. One day, I’d gone to retrieve my kids from her house when she stopped me in the kitchen. She had a serious look on her face and said, “You are a good mother.” Now, Maxine wasn’t known for being flip, and was as sincere as one could be. I appreciated her words. She was such a devote Mormon that it was difficult for her when her children chose differently, but for her to say I was a good mother, was high praise. She had a difficult relationship with my husband when he was in his teen years, as his father felt Paul would simply “grow out” of difficult behavior and I always felt like her thoughts/feelings on the matter were dismissed. I think she appreciated that I would not follow that pattern and took a firm stance on how I raised my children.
As we ended the 1990’s, we were terribly saddened by the loss of Wesley, and it was a very difficult time. But Lloyd and Maxine kept dear Wesley in their hearts and carried on.