Friday, August 11, 2006

Memories of Grandma S.

There have been quite a few grandma memories lately, which led me to think of my dad's tiny little mother. I began a growth spurt leading to my lofty height between fifth and sixth grade. I outgrew my little Swedish grandma in about the 4th grade. Grandma was so tiny that she had a hard time cooking and washing dishes in normal sized kitchens. She had her old farm kitchen remodeled to fit her size. I had a hard time helping her with the dishes from the time I was 10 years old.

So many memories - where do I start and what do I cut out?? Many of the memories are not mine, of course, but my dad's. He was ten years old when he walked down the aisle of the church to be dedicated with his two older brothers. Grandma and Grandpa were not converted until they lost a baby to stillbirth. The pastor of the church they attended told them that the baby was not safe because she hadn't been baptized. My grandfather had a major temper at that time and ordered the pastor away, and told him never to return. A young pastor in town heard about the loss and came to their home to express his condolences and to pray with them. He assured them that an innocent stillborn baby would not be in hell. They were converted shortly afterward, and had their children dedicated. My dad became a pastor and his two older brothers became missionaries. There were subsequently two more children.

My earliest memories are of Christmas celebrations at their old farmhouse with the cousins who were home on furlough from Africa. What great times we had in her cold upstairs playing missionary, or Billy Graham Crusade!

Grandma was a wonderful cook. My other grandma, who lived only a mile or so away, was younger and worked in town. She had wonderful store-bought goodies and pop in her house, but Grandma S. always had homemade goodies in her freezer to pop out when anyone stopped by for "coffee." My fondest memory is the teeny-tiny pieces of cake that she would serve still frozen. To this day I love frozen cake!

I inherited one of her idiosyncrasies - she had to go through her entire list of kids before she got to the one she was talking to or about. I do that with my brothers' names. Must be a gene thing. She had the greatest laugh - and her eyes crinkled closed when she got tickled.

Lilacs, strawberries, raspberries, "cukes" (cucumbers), African violets, the sound of mourning doves - all are things that take me instantly back to her house. We grandkids had such great times making clubhouses out of the outbuildings, creating "Five Rock Patio" under a circle of trees in the back yard, burying a bird in Five Rock Patio. My brothers, sister, and cousins all had great times in the hayloft, but I was unable to join that fun because of my fear of heights.

The most incredible story about my grandparents is hardly believable. She lived on the farm down the road from his family. He was 10 years old when his mother took him down to visit the new baby. He looked in her crib and said, "That's the girl I'm going to marry." Truly! He spent the last ten years of his life following a heart attack in a depressed state, lying on the couch, with his back to the room. He died when I was 17, so I can't say that I really knew him. I just remember his gigantic hands and how much taller he was than she. But Grandma never lost her joy in spite of it all.

One of my clearest memories is of the time after Grandpa died. Her 4 sons were trying to talk her into selling the house and moving into town. She wasn't ready to do that yet, and she was standing in the middle of the circle of these large men, telling them in no uncertain terms that she was not going to sell. She didn't! At least not for a few years. She did eventually move to town and continued to attend church - the folks who picked her up found her unconscious on the floor one Sunday morning. It's a good thing she was in town. She ended up in the nursing home for the last 5 years. She didn't really remember me when I took my first baby to visit her. It was sad.

But the saddest thing of all was when my folks and I took her on a long ride one day, to all of the places where she'd lived in her life that we could find. She remembered everything about them as if it were yesterday. We took her back to the nursing home, said good-bye to her, and she stood on the sidewalk waving until she couldn't see us any longer. Dad realized he'd forgotten his glasses in her room, so he went back within a few minutes. She was still standing on the sidewalk (I don't know why nobody had helped her back to her room already), she looked at Dad and said, "Who are you?" Heartbreak for my dad! A few days later, when they'd gone back to Arkansas, she died. My dad had the privilege of officiating at her funeral. I wasn't able to go to the funeral, because I was going back there for my other grandparents' 50th anniversary two weeks later and I couldn't afford two trips. I was heartbroken. My sweet husband came home that night with an African violet for me, not knowing that it was one of her favorites.

My latest memory happened a few years ago when my sister, cousin from Africa, and I decided to go out to the old property and see what was still there. It had been sold years before, but nobody had ever done anything with it yet. Among the high weeds we found that all of the building's foundations were still there. We found evidence of our old clubhouses, and little bits of the lilac bushes. My sister, who is very creative, picked up several souvenirs, which to me looked like junk, some barn wood for a frame, brought them home, and made a wonderful memory-filled collage. Isn't that just what God does? He takes what looks like junk in our lives and can turn it into something wonderful if we allow Him to.

As we were tramping around in the weeds, I said, "I wonder what people would think if they drove by here and saw us out here in the weeds." My cousin, the missionary kid who had grown up to be a missionary said, "They'd just think we were a bunch of preacher's and missionary's kids searching for our roots!" So true!

I just heard that a huge Wal-Mart sits on that property now. I don't think I want to ever see that. I will stick with my wonderful memories!

16 comments:

Karla said...

That is a beautiful post! I'm all emotional now. ;)
Thank you for sharing your precious memories with us.
That is really cool about how your parents were saved. I mean, not cool that they had to go through that, but how God used it for His glory and look at the impact on future generations from now to eternity!!
I remember my grandma's belly bouncing up & down when she laughed, which was more like a "snigger". :)
I can't imagine how hard it must be for someone to not be recognized by such a dear loved one. :(
And I used to play "preacher" when I was a kid. I'd turn my baby's crib on its end to make my pulpit. When it wasn't being used to preach, it was the door to my "spaceship". I'm an only child, what can I say? :)

Diane said...

Dawn, you really should print this out and keep it in a scrapbook for your kids and grandkids. Or skip all that and write a book. Seriously. I so wish I had my parent's and grandparent's memories down on paper.

Barb said...

You know what Dawn? I love frozen cake,too. And I love it that you know they're mourning doves, not morning doves. A wonderful nostalgic post. Did your grandma proud.

Brenda said...

Wonderful memories, and you share them so eloquently. I agree with Diane, you should put them in a book. Wouldn't that be a great heirloom?

RE: your comment on my blog about homeschooling - that's precisely why I decided that it wasn't for us at the time. LOL.

Nikkie said...

That was a great post! Thank you for sharing your memories of your Grandma!

Crystal Breeze said...

Dear Dawn,
Thank you for the wonderful story to past the time here at my job. The hour seem to go so slow tonight and your story was so interesting to read. I hate how old age effects the mind when you can remember one thing but not the other. It sounds like you gave your Grandmother a good farewell present from her life her on earth. Most people don't get the chance to see it all just one last time. I am also please to hear how much God has lived through your generations of your family. Amazing Love

Praying for your Prodigal said...

Dawn--what a beautiful post down memory lane! I'm with you on the "saying every child's name before you get to the one you're speaking to" routine! What's up with that! I've even mentioned a dogs name or two before I hit the right name! YIKES!

Grandparents are so dear--with the mobility of our society these days--it's tough to maintain relationships. I think I better call my mom today--and ask her to have dinner with the kids and I! It's been awhile!

Diane

kpjara said...

That was beautiful! I love these memories, just love them!

How neat that you were able to return before the "W" moved in and find some treasures!

Jessica said...

Memories can be so great sometimes can't they?!? :)

Kristen said...

The story of Grandma S not remembering her favorite places, or Grandpa just makes me want to cry!! That is one of my worst fears with my grandparents or with you and Dad!! How heartbreaking.

I didn't know about Dad bringing you the African Violet. How sweet.

And the story of Grandpa looking down in her crib and knowing that he's going to marry her reminds me of how Will is with Feisty.

What a wonderful post and tribute to your grandma! I wish I could have known her!

Kristen said...

Oh, and one more thing....I'm getting that "idiosyncracy", too about saying all names until I come to the right one. It is so annoying!!

Maggie Ann said...

I enjoyed reading about your Gramdma...what a special person she was. A great post, thanks for sharing. The frozen cake, and the way her eyes crinkled shut when she laughed were my favorites.

Morning Glory said...

What bittersweet memories. My mind has been brewing on a post that will include her, when I finally get around to it.

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