Rhymes With Fuchsia

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

G is for Grandmothers

It's taken me a long time to get to G, partly because I wasn't sure what to do with it, and then because I needed to find the pictures, with help from my lovely SIL.

Grant knew both of his grandmothers, but remembers his mother's mother better. She seems to have been as stern and tough as she looks in her pictures, and she needed to be: her husband died in 1929, leaving her with a farm and five children, two boys and three girls (the oldest was about 14, I think, and the youngest about six). She ran the farm singlehandedly throughout the Depression, doing well enough to keep it going and eventually put all five kids through college. The farm is still in the family.

She was staunchly opinionated, placing Hoover campaign posters in her front windows and making sure that her neighbors knew that she was voting for him, and why. (I never found out why. Had I ever met her, I hope I would have had the good sense to nod politely and keep my own counsel.)

His father's mother was quite different, a large, cheerful lady full of hugs for her grandchildren. She must have been no slouch in the brains department either to produce my father-in-law.

Because my parents were divorced when I was very young, I didn't see their wedding pictures until a few years ago. My dad's mother died before I was born; she was another Depression widow, supporting herself and my dad by teaching and eventually becoming the headmistress of a private school. She was a wordsmith like him after her and me after him. I look a lot like her. I had no idea she was so tall.

My mother's parents were fixtures throughout my childhood. Every month or so they would whisk us off for a day's visit to their house. Grandma Ruth would play board and card games with my brother and me, starting with "go fish" and eventually working up to canasta, or read us "just so" stories. She was born in 1898, and she remained a Victorian (I once used the word heck in her presence, and I remember it yet), but she was full of quiet humor and loved a pun, the groanier the better. "Film on teeth forms night and day," an early TV commercial had it; "Phil Monteeth," sighed my grandmother, "how worn out poor Phil must get with all that marching." She didn't subscribe to the "no idle hands" ethic, but if I ever needed help with sewing or knitting, she would produce any needed tools and handle them expertly. She loved bold colors and braved hay fever to tend a brilliantly blooming flower garden every spring.

Grandma Ruth was always one of my favorite people, but I didn't really know her well until after my grandfather died and she moved into a nursing home. He was a kind, generous, and boisterous man, effortlessly taking up most of the space in any room he entered. "You had to understand Harold to love him," she once said, "and you had to live with him to understand him." In his shadow and beneath her proper exterior she knew me better than I had ever suspected at the time.

I've been told that although I don't look like her, Grandma Ruth's aura hovers about me. It's one of the best compliments I've ever received.



  • What a lovely post Lucia. It is so important to have that connection to who we are and yet it is so often lost over the years. In our techno age we forget how precious the photos are and how hard and with such integrity people had to work, and they just did it without whining or complaining. Thank you for sharing!

    By Blogger Cynthia, at 11:58 PM  

  • That's really a wonderful post and tribute to both you and your husband's grandparents.

    By Blogger WandaWoman, at 12:09 AM  

  • This is a beautiful tribute to grandmothers.

    By Blogger Carole Knits, at 6:31 AM  

  • We are infused with the women of our past. Nice post! I knew both grandmothers and two of my great-grandmothers, too.

    By Blogger Margene, at 6:59 AM  

  • What a spledid post. Wonderful photos and lovely essay. As always, a stellar job!

    By Blogger Roxie, at 11:29 AM  

  • Great post! (I had thought of doing several G posts, one for each of them... but then got distracted and mooshed them into one) Isn't it great to have the stories and memories?

    By Blogger knitnzu, at 9:37 PM  

  • That is a lovely tribute to these women. I haven't actually got pictures of mine in my possession -- mom mom has them all. You've reminded me to start nagging again.

    By Blogger Annie, at 6:47 AM  

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