Tuesday, May 31, 2011

my grandma

Lately, I've been thinking of my Grandma O and her life. She was a pretty gutsy woman.

She told me about spending hours as a young woman in the beet fields hoeing weeds and working in her father's dairy. She was a freshman in college in 1941. She told me that by January 1942, all the young men were gone off to war, including at least two of her brothers. She came of age during a time of great uncertainty and turmoil.

After WWII, she got engaged the same night as her sister did, and married the love of her life, a returning soldier who was a farmer. She had a daughter, my mom. Her husband died in an accident and a soon after found she was pregnant with her second daughter. She never remarried.

She moved back to her home town across the street from her parents into a home built for her by a brother-in-law. She went to work as a teacher and with the help of her parents and a great aunt she raised her two girls.

I remember going to visit her in school and being totally fascinated by her classroom. She had great bulletin boards and fun projects happening in there. Her students still remember her with great fondness. She started losing her eye sight, and eventually had to retire.

She was declared legally blind and went to a school for the blind to learn a new set of life skills. She kept sewing and making things with her hands for as long as she could. Eventually she started tying quilts and tied a quilt a week for the Deseret Industries. Ladies from church set up a quilt each week in her living, placed big corsage pins where ever she needed to tie a knot on the quilt and away she would go. She actually could roll the quilt by herself. She even took piano lessons!

She remembered me as an eight year old girl, because that was the last time she could clearly see my face. She would call to hear about the sunset and my latest date. She loved hearing about my life and having me read my homework over the phone to her. Often when I traveled I would a take a tape recorder with me and record letters for her. I recorded the sounds of Paris, a cab ride in London and kids in Chile. I wanted her to know the things I was doing. I would tell her about the amazing meals I was eating in London, France and Italy, and she would get so hungry just hearing about the food.

She loved to read and always had a book-on-tape playing. She listened to more books than I've ever read in my lifetime. She even tried to get into the Harry Potter series, but just couldn't enjoy it like her grandchildren did.

She lived on her own for as long as she could. She served her community as well. She tutored kids in reading at the elementary school on her block for years and loved it. She was part of a senior support group and had people she called every day to check on. She came to every performance I was in, every recital I played in and all the choir concerts.

She was pretty fearless, but sometimes she would worry that God had forgotten her or that Grandpa didn't love her any more. She grew more and more child like the older she got, but she kept on fighting to have a full life and do the things she loved.

Grandma loved life. She worked hard and lived very frugally. She lived to the fullest and at times lived vicariously through her grandchildren. She had a ready laugh, could be very serious, insisted on going into the bathroom to pass gas and burp, laughed loudest at herself, and always reminded me that I was a lady.

Grandma O with Lane
She loved her girls, her grandchildren and especially her great grandchildren. She often told me that her greatest joy was her family and that she wished the same for me and all her grandchildren.

It was her birthday this weekend, and even though she's been gone from this life for a while, I still remember her birthday every year. She is a role model for me and when I remember her I want to be better and live a fuller life.

Happy birthday Grandma and thank you for your legacy.


wilybrunette said...

oh this is so lovely. what a wonderful, inspiration of a woman who's clearly left a lasting legacy.

i love that you taped your travels for her. that's the start of a book... (in fact, if you don't mind, i might store this idea away for something). xo.

ellen, jeanna, tori & jordyn said...

I loved my Aunt kathryn. She was a wonderful lady and would always call me on my birthday. I couldn't imagine how she could remember every year. My kids and I would visit her when we came to Smithfield. She was always so sweet to them and was interested in them. I miss her.

jaustin620 said...

I was also thinking of Aunt Kathryn this weekend because I knew her birthday was May 30 or was it 31st? Your Grandma would take Kathy, Sylvia and I to Paradise quite often on Sunday to visit relatives there. Sometimes she would buy us a treat or supper at Artic Circle. She taught us all how to knit well enough to make a sweater. I love Aunt Kathryn and have many more memories. Jane

Tara said...

What a lovely post of your Gma. I have a great admiration of your grandmother. She is truly a great lady and an inspiration for us all.