My Grandmother Norma, I called her “Munner” recently left this earth peacefully on Memorial Day. I have to share that she slipped away from this earth after a long wait and for those who have been through this it comes on so quickly you almost can’t believe it happened. I still wonder is their life without “Munner” while I know the aged often slowly participate less and less in what’s going on in life around them as my Grandma would have been 90 years old this August you still know she is there.
She wouldn’t want me to dwell on her death so what I will remember about her is the three “R”s. She was a remarkable, resilient, and a resourceful woman. Life wasn’t always easy for her but she had an extremely strong work ethic and even though she didn’t say it I know she had an aura about her that she would keep marching on in spite of what life threw at her. She grew up in the depression, and then she had to tend to a sickly mother, she had four children and two passed on before her which left her wrenched with grief. She ended up divorced from her husband and having to raise her children on her own and in spite of all of that my Grandmother retired from Royal Typewriter, and then went on to become an RN, and then after all that she went back to a local university to get her Bachelors Degree in Psychology and even then in her 70’s worked a job at a Daycare in the Baby Room because she was so fit and active! She loved those baby’s with all of her heart and she would tell me stories about all of them and there parents.
What I didn’t know about my Grandmother I just found out the other day that not only was she the Valedictorian of her high school class but she was also the Valedictorian of her college nursing class. My Grandma was one of the female role models in my life that inspired me to life long learning and made me believe that anything was possible.
My Grandmother would also walk me all over town as she did not have a driver’s license. That was another thing she did later in life was get her driver’s license and start driving and I guess once she needed to get it done she got it done. We would go to the park with my cousins, she would take me to the library downtown sometimes and I loved it – it was beyond huge and intimidating – and there were always fascinating people there and once McDonald’s opened not far from her place she would always take me for one of there 25 cent ice cream cones. She also worked at the hospital which was right around the corner from her house and we would also go get treats out of the vending machines and she would introduce me to folks and she would always take me into the chapel and we would pray.
She was a devout Catholic and loved her church with all of her heart, she would always tell me to come see her church renovation she was so proud! She would say I helped purchase this for the church and she would be so excited for her church and what they accomplished.
But my favorite memories at my Grandma’s are on summer nights when I spent the night at her apartment I would lay on her clothesline aired sheets and I would get to bathe in her big old apartment tub and then she would powder me up and put me in one of her satin nighties. We would sleep with the windows open and the air would blow across me and I felt so content and at peace. If I couldn’t sleep she would always let me climb in with her in the middle of the night but I would hear about it the next day as she said I moved all over the bed.
My Grandma made the best fruit salad on the planet she would take fruit cocktail, fresh fruit and whip cream and she would just let me eat my fill! I never could figure out why everyone else didn’t know my Grandma’s secret whip cream makes everything taste better!
One of my favorite trips I took with my Grandma was to the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton with the nuns from our church and I stayed in a convent with her and them. Convents are very quiet which was quite a change from my house with my parents and two brothers. I was a little scared even though I was 10 or 11 years old so one of the nuns came in and brought me a tv – she said we don’t use this often but that it would be okay for the night although it didn’t help me sleep much. I remember telling my Grandma how it was a little creepy so quiet and I could hear every step on the floor and I remember her laughing to herself telling me I couldn’t be much safer than at a convent.
I need to add that my Grandmother and I shared a love of farm life, gardening, and all things that are self-sufficient. When I first got married and lived in the country in the valleys of western Maryland I took to it and embraced the country ways. I loved canning, and gardening although this was a journey for me that took me many years to get good at it was something that my Grandmother and I both had in common. We would talk about my chickens every day when I called her on the phone until one day she could no longer talk on the phone to me. I guess this was the first round of grief for me losing that first initial connection with her. Even still I would send her notes and my Uncle and Cousin would read them to her and then one day she was really unable to hear the notes as well. My Grandmother encouraged my love of the homesteading and frugal lifestyle I guess in reality she was the first real homesteader I ever knew. No she was never a farmer but she did live on a farm at one point in Erie, Pennsylvania but remember my motto if you have a home you’re a homesteader and the other motto I hold true is that home is where the heart is.
Those are great memories and I know many of my blog readers have lost a grandparent and know the pain that comes with this. I don’t know when the pain will ebb and I know the pain will resurface when I attend her memorial service coming up. Interestingly I was relieved we were not having a funeral because I wouldn’t have time to think about it all just yet because at work I don’t even have time to think I am rushing around taking photographs, updating the website, figuring out logistics for the next school event and thankfully this month it has not been quiet at home or at work.
So soon I will be home for the summer and the realization will really hit me that I have no more grandparents left. I hopefully have gleaned from all of them life skills that will help me see things through, a strong work ethic, impeccable character, and strength to get through hard times. My Grandma was my last real tie to that generation and they were very special and they came with a special knowledge which is they remembered the “old” ways something we need to get back to. We need to get back to our roots and enjoy the simple things in life.
I will always remember my Grandma sitting in the lawn chair while her grandchildren played on a hot summer day with a smile on her face enjoying the moment!