I was at a family reunion over the weekend and on the drive up I got to thinking about my grandmothers. Both have earned their final reward of peace now. I was blessed. I had two exceptionally strong but caring women as my grandmothers. Now, neither one developed a cure for cancer or left their mark on this world any other way but by being a great grandmother however but they left their mark nonetheless. I especially recognized their greatness. Grandmothers are caring, loving beings who probably treat their grandchildren far better than they ever treated their kids. See they have had many more years to practice. Or maybe by the time they are grandmothers they are just worn out from dealing with their children.
My paternal grandmother was always excited to see us and spend all her time listening and talking to us kids. She made us feel like we were the most important people in the world. She baked and always had a meal ready for us. Simple food, but great all the same. She cooked with the same love that she showed all of us. She was always full of hugs and kisses and always listening even though there were quite a few clamoring for her attention. One thing I learned from her was her compassion. There was never a concern for her but she always put us first. A simple woman she was never stern or mean and even though my father said she was a fighter, I don’t believe I ever heard her raise her voice even with the house she was in she could have many, many times. I am sure I don’t know all of the stories. I miss her laughter even today. She had a great sense of humor.
As we would leave she would sit in the front window and wave goodbye to all of us. I remember seeing her cherubic face as we piled in the car and left for home. What a sweetheart she was….
My maternal grandmother was of course another gem. She grew up a German and a strict Lutheran and she was an outcast from some of her family when she married my grandfather, an Irish Catholic. That I suppose made her stronger and far more independent because of her family’s treatment when she became a Catholic. A stronger willed woman you never meet. Katie was tough and she did everything the tough way. On wash day she would wash the clothes than take them out on the clothesline to let them dry in the warm summer sun. She would sit down and reward herself with a beer, only one, to refresh herself, and the German in her, never more than that for this lady. Gram loved to get down on her knees and scrub and wax the floors, maybe that was an excuse for another beer. I used to help her scrub the floor in the garage. I did not know too many folks who scrubbed their garage floor with Spic and Span but she did. We’d hose down the garage and use the broom as a scrub brush until the floor was clean as can be. Then we would wash the car, her and I so we could put only a clean car in a clean garage. When I got older I cut her lawn every week and she would give me one dollar but she would always be cooking a couple hamburgers when I got done so I could sit down and have lunch with her. Those were rewarding times with my grandmother and they were fun as well listening to how they grew up and about Christmases many years past when they would go to the German Hall and get an apple for Christmas. Not an iphone but an actual apple. Had to throw that comment in….
In 1991, Gram passed but before she left us she pulled me close to her and told me, “You know those clothespin cookies, I used to keep in a shoebox in the freezer. I knew it was you who used to come over and eat them.” When I had the surprised look on my face she said, “That is why I baked them over and over again”. I thought I was getting away with something but on her death bed she called me out on it. That is love and compassion at its finest. Those are the stories we can tell about our grandmothers. They made us who we are today. They taught us love and how to care. They taught us what we know today as people. They were not scholars they were grandmothers.
As I sit and look at my sweet little granddaughter I wonder if she will have stories like this of her grandmother and grandfather and just what we taught her. I sure do hope so…