Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Memories of Grandma

Grandma and me, picking wildflowers in the road ditch outside our house.  I was 3 going on 4-years-old, and the curly hair I inherited from Grandma had escaped my bandanna in front.  
I'm feeling grateful today for my mother's mom, my Grandma Opal, who always welcomed us to her home whenever we wanted to come. She cooked and cleaned without complaint when all of her produce had to be picked and canned from the garden, and laundry was done outdoors in a hand-cranked wringer washer.  She offered us feather beds with line-dried, starched and ironed sheets topped with colorful quilts she had made herself. I don’t know how she did it all and still had energy to hurry to greet us on the sidewalk outside her house with arms spread wide for a hug.  And when we left she always cried, and stood waving a dishtowel from her open kitchen door so that when we turned onto the road that ran adjacent to her house, from a half mile away we could still see that towel waving furiously.  Going to Grandma’s house was the greatest joy of my childhood, and I understand now what I did not know then, that her sacrifice of love was sheer, hard labor that kept us fed and comfortable when my cousins, aunts, uncles, parents and I crowded her little house with our noisy and messy presence.  She made it obvious to us by her smiles, hugs, and attentiveness that we made her very happy. 

Late in her life, Grandma succumbed to dementia. She became demanding, and ended her life on a tumultuous note as her suffering caused her to cry out in anger and pain.  In those days before drugs that would have helped rather than sedated, she was not an easy patient. But that final season of her life was relatively brief, and it does not taint my memories of her as a woman who gave selflessly and joyfully to her family despite the hardships she faced.  I remember her with love and gratitude today, on the 114th anniversary of her birth.  

1 comment:

  1. How wonderful that you don’t reduce your Grandma Opal to her worst days. She was and remains so much more than that. Sweet memories beautifully shared.