This morning I've been remembering my grandmothers. I had two, like most of us do, and they were very different from one another.
My mother's mother, with whom we lived for a few years, was very quiet. I don't remember here saying very much of anything, nor does my mother. She had the virtue of silence, which I was not blessed with! Grandma L. was never one to voice an opinion or add much to a conversation. She would not strike back with words if there was even a temptation to do so. I think she was a good example of a 'peacemaker'. But, there may have been other reasons that I don't remember her speaking often. She was the victim of a number of 'small' strokes which affected the thought to speech portion of her brain. Sometimes, when she chose to say something, the wrong word would come from her mouth, and it would visibly upset her, as she knew it wasn't what she meant to say.
However, as a child, Grandma's quiet nature didn't bother me, and I'm not sure I even noticed it much back then. We played board games together, checkers, chinese checkers, parchisi. She is the one who taught me how to embroider....lovely stitched pictures on fabric. She patiently sat beside me, instructing me, directing my fingers and the course of the needle. I remember being somewhat slow to learn a French knot, and how she patiently helped until I got the stitch under control. Grandma must have said something during those times, but I don't remember what it might have been.
Most people remember their grandmother's cooking, but I don't. All the while I knew her, there was one of her daughters in residence, caring for her, and it was the younger woman who put the meals on the table. I'm sure that Grandma helped some, but she did not do the majority of the meal.
As was the mode of the day, Grandma would rise. comb her hair and twist it up into a bun. Then she'd put on a housedress with a bib apron that tied at the back. This would be the morning attire, and would be worn until after lunch. She did some housework, dishes, dusting, hanging out the wash while dressed in that outfit. After lunch, Grandma would climb the stairs and lie down for a nap for awhile, and when she came downstairs again, she was dressed up and wearing jewelry. I guess that was in case anyone would stop in for a visit during the afternoon. Tucked in her bosom was the ever-present clean hankie. At night her long hair would be brushed for a good while, sometimes I'd do it for her, and then it would be braided down her back.
It was this Grandma who placed me on her lap and rocked me in the rocker I now own, on that January day when I was eleven years old. As she held me and rocked me, I sobbed my little heart out, grieving the loss of my other grandmother. I do remember Grandma saying, "Oh, poor Lamb" as she tried to soothe me.
My other grandmother was Dad's mom. I knew her quite well, better than my Mom's mother I guess, even though we'd never lived with her. I had many overnights at Grandma and Grandpa B's little home, and Grandma and I spent a good deal of time together. She would read stories to me while I sat on her lap in her big, brown wicker rocker. I remember A.A. Milne's "When We Were Six" and stories of baby Moses in the bullrushes from Sunday school papers she'd saved and bound together with a shoe lace. She was good at sketching and she would make paperdolls for me from cardboard, and we'd paint them with watercolors or colored pencils, and then make clothes from brown paper bags for them. Sometimes we'd take walks in an overgrown nursery across the street from the house, and she'd recite "Starlight, starbright."
Grandma B. also wore housedresses and aprons, but I remember seeing her dressed up only once. That was for my cousin, Barb's, wedding. The dress was silky and navy blue with white dots all over it. Her shoes were black heels and they tied at the instep. I don't remember any jewelry, ever, but a wedding ring. Gram's hair was always short, kept cropped because it was quite curly and I suppose she thought it was easier to manage that way. Every morning she would wet the hair brush and nearly plaster the hair down, tying it back with a narrow ribbon or a long shoe lace.
I do remember this grandmother's cooking...but really, only one meal stands out. It was ham, some sort of green vegetable, and a baked potato with REAL butter. It was so good! We ate margarine at our house, so the butter was a treat to me. The big meal was always eaten at noon in that house, and Grandpa would come home at midday from his job at the dairy , and he'd leave for work again after it was eaten.
Grandmothers come in all sizes and shapes, conditions and ages. When I look at their photos, and think back on my memories of them, now that I'm a grandmother, I see tremendous differences between the elders of their day and those of this present time. One thing that doesn't change, though, is a grandmother's love for her little ones. It's a very special thing to have a grandmother, a double blessing to be able to remember two of them, and a extra measure of blessings to BE a grandmother; I am richly blessed!