Friday, November 25, 2011

Hello Again, Grandma D

I remember very little of Grandma D (my mom's mom). I do remember her delicious chicken and rice dish, the marathon Scrabble games she and her daughters played, and the time my sister Judy got caught in the rope swinging in Grandma's barn and was swinging by one ankle! (We were so scared we'd get in trouble!) I also remember that Grandma loved roses.

I remember more about Grandma's house; the farm. There was an old, dilapidated outhouse beside the garage, and we "city" kids delighted in using it, even though there was a perfectly good toilet inside the house! There was a tiny, charming kitchen inside the house, and a big walk-in pantry. Grandma's house was full of healthy, flowering plants; clear evidence of her "green thumb" (something my own mom inherited from her!) Her many flower beds outside were a sight to behold.

This is part of the foreword I wrote in a family cookbook that I organized in 1993, when Kyle was just a baby. I was 12 when Grandma D passed away, and as I got older and became a mother, I felt a strong need to know more about her. There were about 30 D first-cousins at the time, most who were older than I was and had lived closer to Grandma growing up, so I asked them (and my siblings) to send me recipes and memories of Grandma for a cookbook. They did not disappoint. As the recipes and memories flowed in, I got a better glimpse of what she was like. But while some gaps began to fill-in, I still felt a deep need to know more.

Then one night, I had a beautiful dream. Grandma came to me and took me back to her farm when I was a young girl. We picked flowers, went for a walk, cooked, and talked, spending the day together, just the two of us. She was very warm, loving, and she made me laugh. I felt very comfortable, and loved, and when I woke up, I was filled with a sense of peace and joy like I had never known. It was as if Grandma's spirit knew I'd been seeking her out, and she wanted me to know she is here. I have never had such a touching dream, nor one that felt so very real.

Guess who this is...

No, it's not my mom; it's her mom, goofing around in her one of her brother's Navy uniforms in what I can only imagine is around 1918 or so, given that she was married and had her first baby by 1922. [This photo was recently shared with me (thanks to Facebook) by a distant cousin-in-law whom I've never met. Thanks, Michael!]

What I love about this photo (what made me get choked up) is that it's like my grandma is saying hello again, and since I've rarely seen photos of her as a young woman, I'm getting an even greater glimpse of who she was.  It's clear who my mom got her playful spirit from, and I'm happy to say that it carries on in me.

What a gift; awareness of our roots.

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