Monday, October 06, 2008


I'm finding things that I've had packed away for a long time. These are the only two remaining rugs made by my Grandma. At least, to my knowledge anyway. They were treated much too lightly by us. I preached my Grandma's funeral, or whatever the proper term is, and I remember emphasizing the fact that grandma could take something that was cast off, thrown away, and make something beautiful. I remember her gathering wool, old coats, things people gave her, buttons, and making it into something I loved.wonderful.

We used to forage at the City Dump (back before Landfill days) when I was a child and it was a highlight, believe or or not, to find things to recycle. Later I did not tell people about that - imagine - foraging at a dump! Now I am proud of it. Grandma was "green" before it became trendy.

Grandma even recycled her dishwater back into the earth. I learned that the best ant killer was a hot pot of boiling dishwater. I learned to be careful about how much water I used and how many lights I left burning. I learned to garden and to recycle the leftovers back into the earth. I learned to can garden produce, to make jelly, to feed orphaned lambs with a bottle, later I learned to love a good piece of cooked "mutton" respecting the natural cycle of life.

I learned to respect silence and garden produce and - yes, not having enough money. When there was enough for the carnival rides or a piece of candy - what a wonderful treat it was!

We went to funerals all over town - walking of course - Grandma never owned a car. We went to the movies on Saturdays where there was a drawing up on the stage and we almost always won a prize. We went to Bingo and to pick cherries and we washed clothes on a ringer washer and hung them outside for the fresh, clean (back then) air to dry. I learned to iron and produce a crisp shirt.

My mother said that once, there was so little money that someone gave Grandma some chicken feet which she boiled, skinned, and made nourishing chicken soup out of with a little meat in it. That was Grandma. I was young, we had everything we needed.

Grandma was eccentric - she was not known for her patience, but she was known for her determination. She worked on ranches, cooking for ranch hands. She babysat. She scrubbed floors at a dorm for nurses - on her hands and knees. She could save one-half of her social security check. She didn't own a sofa until she was over 80, but she had dresser drawers full of linens.

When she was very old, her son took her bath towels and left her a few thin pieces to dry herself. He threatened her that if she didn't sign her little house over to him, that he would disown her and not help her. His "help" was meager. He would drive by her as she walked up the street toward home with her arms full of groceries. When we moved back to Wyoming, I helped her for fifteen years. It was a privilege. My children got to know their great grandmother and did not fear old people.

I valued her until she was gone. My children learned the natural cycle of life, to respect the elderly and learn that they weren't useless when they reached 50 and older - we had 51 more years of the lessons from Grandma.

Her wisdom was often hilarious. Her favorite saying about staying out of a problem that arose between people - "Don't stir in a turd, it always makes it smell worse."

Oh, grandma, I miss you.


Wandering Coyote said...

What a beautiful tribute, Gardenia!

Babe said...

This is warming to my heart!
Very much like my own Great-Grandmother who lived to be 103.
I learned these same things.
I am blessed to have many items that she made as well as antique furniture that she owned.Her favorite saying was,"You can't make chicken salad out of chicken shit!"
I miss her too.

Candy Minx said...

This brought tears to my eyes. I was much much closer with my grandparents than with my parents. My grandmothers taught us about family and how to organize anything, a party a redecorating spree, howw to attend a funeral or wedding....just so many things...

Gardenia, this was a lovely post and you are so lucky to have some things that remind you of your grandmother...that her own hand made. How priceless.

punxxi said...

That is the best expression I have ever heard!I love your writing, you are so expressive, I guess that just goes with the artist in you.

Milla said...

Your grandma sounds so much like Zorro's grandma Kristina! So much! She also was hilarious and came out with mottos and expressions that people in her village still use now. And

I am lucky that before she died she made sure that whoever Zorro would be with as a wife would get some of the beautiful rugs and wall hangings she made, and these are now all over my house here in the UK.

And I am 100% sure that your grandchildren love you as their grandma as you loved yours.

tweetey30 said...

Those small memories you have of grandparents isnt it great..

tshsmom said...

Your Grandma sounds so much like mine, right down to the rag rugs! I'm so grateful to my Grandma for teaching me about thrift, and making something from nothing. Very valuable skills in today's economy!