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'She truly gave up her whole life for us' after mother's death

| Sunday, May 12, 2013, 12:16 a.m.
Eric Felack | Valley News Dispatch
Ella Gritzen Garland, 98, photographed on Friday, May 10, 2013 at Fair Winds Manor Care Home in Winfield. Her mother passed away at age 47, and her sister, Edna, took on the responsibility of raising Ella and her eight siblings.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Nancy Jones holds a picture of her parents in her Lower Burrell home on Tuesday May 7, 2013. After spending 2 years as caregiver to her husband, Nancy finally realized how much love her own mother showed her to father, who spent many years caring for her husband.

Each Mother's Day, Ella Gritzen Garland remembers two special women — her mom, Augusta, and her sister, Edna, who raised her from age 11.

“My mother passed away when she was 47 and she left six boys and four girls,” said Garland, 98, of Allegheny Township. “My sister gave up her schooling and she stayed at home and did all the chores; packing lunches, washing, ironing, mending.

“She did that for the family. She truly gave up her whole life for us.”

At that time, the baby of the family was 4, and the oldest had married and moved away.

Garland, who still lives in the same Blackstone Road home where she grew up, never had any children.

But she knows it wasn't easy for her sister to take on the responsibility of being a mom of eight at 18.

“Edna thought she could not take this, and she got so sick and she had pneumonia,” Garland said. “She said one night it seemed like mother came to her bed and said, ‘You have to take care of my children; you promised you would.'

“From that time on, she gave up everything.”

Garland calls her sister “an angel in disguise.”

“She was just everything, more than some people have for their mom,” Garland said. “That's why I felt that she was such a wonderful person that God gave us.”

Edna Gritzen died in 1993. Garland's sister, Dorothy Beatty, 95, is her only living sibling.

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or jweigand@tribweb.com.

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