Sunday, March 01, 2009

Fun Monday - Mothers of Mothers

Fun Monday is here again and this week, Jo, who loves Chocolate and Other Things is hosting:

March 2nd is my Mom's birthday and was her mother's birthday as well. For this week's Fun Monday, tell me something fun about your mother and/or her mother. What fun, weird, laughable memories do you have of your Mom or your Grandma?

And I thought this would be easy... I already write about my Mom. She makes me laugh on a regular basis (the sponge story is typical!) so I decided to write about my mother's mother. She wasn't a particularly funny lady... Her sense of humor was very different from mine and I didn't always get what she thought was humorous and vice versa. But she knew about joy. Simple joy.

My grandmother was always there when I was growing up. But I never felt like I really knew her.

She was a rebel of her time - a divorced woman raising two children on her own and highly suspicious by society's standards. She had a job of some stature and was paid well enough to raise her kids, buy houses and cars and retire comfortably. She was a serious penny pincher who believed in getting value for what she spent. Sometimes, she spent on us, buying us shoes when things were tight (hello? 6 children in my family!!!!). She had an amazing eye for color and coordination and could put together the most beautiful outfits, which I appreciated - but shopping with her was sheer torture for me. She looked at every article of clothing, examining it for stains or loose threads or pulls. That careful, painstaking attitude was so characteristic of her. She was a perfectionist. And I don't feel like I really knew her at all until close to the end of her life. She was very tight-lipped about her life and undemonstrative in her emotions. I think that was a wall she built to keep out the doubts she had about herself and whether or not she was lovable.

But as she got close to 80 years old, there was a softening in her, an openness that wasn't there before. I would go visit her, clean her house, work in the yard with her. Freed of the need for stockings and heels, she spent her days in button-up shirts and capri pants. She didn't go to the hairdresser every week anymore and the loose curls that would blow in the wind suited her.

I remember going to her house one time... The door was unlocked but there was no answer when I called out for her. I searched the house and the yard, calling for her with no response. I was standing in the carport when she appeared out of the bushes in the back of the yard. Her hair was wild and there were grass stains on her pants and she was smiling from ear to ear. Her eyes lit up when she saw me and we went in for coke floats which she'd recently become addicted to. What on earth were you doing back there? I asked. She had picked up a bucket full of pine cones and had spent the last half hour chucking them as far as she could into the ravine that ran behind the house - and having a blast doing it.

That was the thing... finally free of having to make a living and be a proper lady all the time, she finally learned how to have fun. Just doing simple things, like chucking pine cones and making coke floats brought her great joy.

She died in August 2001, a month before the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center. A sudden heart attack after a lovely evening out with my uncle and his wife. It was such a shock to us. But you know... it was the perfect death for her. No muss, no fuss after a perfect day.

It took me a long time to stop calling her. A long time for it to sink in that she would not be answering the phone again. And I still miss her. I feel like I was only just getting to know her. But you know? I think I already knew what was important. That she loved me and that she was happy.

24 comments:

HoosierGirl5 said...

I have good memories of my grandmother, too. Nice post.

J.

MommyWizdom said...

That was a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing it. I played this time too.

Cheers.

MommyWizdom

Jan said...

What a wonderful tribute to your Grandma.

Swampy said...

Oh, that makes me want to go throw some pine cones and make a coke float...this very brief, beautiful tribute to your Grandma could be made into a movie. What a lesson we can all learn from these words you have woven into a tapestry for us. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Makes me want to go eat a strawberry pie! ;-)
DotnFL

Faye said...

Your Grandmother must have been making her way in the world as an independent woman even before the Depression? That would certainly mold her personality and behavior toward her grandchildren. I'm glad she lived long enough for you to work out this great relationship with her, Sayre.

Anonymous said...

It had been almost three years since I saw her. I actually thank God every day that I stopped by her house for a visit the day she died. Had I ignored the impulse or decided that the fact that I was late for an appointment mattered more, I never would have forgiven myself. As it was, she extracted a promise from me that day that dramatically improved my life from that day on.

I miss you Lois. I know you because in many ways I am you.

John

Sarah said...

What a beautiful tribute to what sounds like a fantastic lady. Thanks for sharing with us this Fun Monday.

Hootin' Anni said...

Wow!! Just plain wow. What a lovely rendition of your memory of her!!! I loved every word. It's funny tho, when I think about it...how we all think [at least at one time in our lives] that our elders are staunch and quiet...yet as we grow older we find that they WERE actually HUMAN afterall.

Mine is posted. Do stop by...once again, it's a 'hoot' of a story.

margaret (the misanthrope) said...

What a beautiful story. Your grandmother did exactly what I hope to do: she finally reached an age and stage of life where she didn't HAVE to be "proper" and prissy any more, and she could do whatever she darn well pleased. And she earned it!

And her passing, while sad, did seem to suit her as you said - quick, with minimal fuss and muss. Thank you for sharing this remarkable lady with us!

Lil Mouse said...

that's lovely. one of my grandmother's died when i was around 8 and the other is alive but has had dementia for quite some time. i never totally appreciated her until I was married, and then it was too late, but we didnt see her often, so it was hard to get to know her. but i do have a few crafts that i have picked up such as cross stitching in her honor. I think she would appreciate it would she have knowledge to at this point..

Anonymous said...

I dearly loved my mother-in-law. What higher tribute. Amen and Amen, Sayre,
dad

♥~♥ Tracey ♥~♥ said...

Ah, I miss my grandmother as well. Our stories are similar, as my grandmother was very stiff and proper until I was an adult. I am not sure I ever got to see the "real" her.

Janis said...

What a lovely tribute to your grandmother. Glad you got to know her true self in her later years. I miss my grandmother so very much everyday, she was my role model. Today would have also been her B.day

min said...

I have a wonderful image of her chucking those cones. What a gal!

Pamela said...

oh I love the pine cone memory. I believe the story should be written and submitted to one of those books (like chicken soup for grandmothers or something)

It's too good not to be published.

Bobbie Leigh said...

That was a beautiful story!
And I agree with Pamela- that should be submitted for publishing!

The Church Lady said...

That's a wonderful memory about your grandmother. She sounds like she was a fun lady to be around. Happy FM!

ChrisB said...

That was a very moving post, your grandmother sounds a wonderful character. You have some lovely memories to treasure.

Dr.John said...

What a wonderful tribute to your grandmother.

hulagirlatheart said...

Lovely story, just lovely.

storyteller said...

How lovely that you shared such a relationship with your grandmother! Thanks for taking time to read and comment on my memories of mom from last May. She WAS an amazing woman and I am grateful for all she did. Perhaps I could make the effort to keep my memories fresh by writing about her more often ;--)
Hugs and blessings,

Gattina said...

Very nice story. It is a pity that people of this time didn't talk that much about their lives. But as you say she loved you and she was happy that's the most important thing.

lisaschaos said...

It hurts to think of losing my mom and then I read such lovely tributes, like yours and wonder if the pain every goes away after losing your mom. I love that she chucked pine cones! :)

Thanx for all your kind words!