Day 7 Gramma, how I wish I could know you.

Driving home the other day I encountered these 2 lovely older women who were out for a walk.  The taller, blond woman was pumping her arms vigorously, running her jaw just as fast.

The second woman was who caught my eye and gave me pause.  She looked up at the sound of my car with a look of expectation as if to say ‘Oh, do I know you?  I wish I did!”  Her spirit shown through her bright eyes and gave me a glimmer of who she may have been as a child, full of wonder and joy.

I immediately thought of my mother’s 2 best friends and my grandmother, mom’s mom.

S and S are just like those two ladies, one driven and outspoken the other oozing joy and optimism, open to everyone.  I love these two women as much as I love my mother and note to self:  must tell them!

But the way that woman looked up so expectantly, made me wonder about who my grandmother was as a child.  Was she kind?  Was she playful?  Was she a bookworm or an athlete?  What was her favorite ice cream flavor.

Oh, you think I should ask her?  Unfortunately, I don’t think she’d know who I was.  She has Parkinson’s.  She was diagnosed over 12 years ago and has gone thru every prescription regimen she can to ward off its damage.  I haven’t seen her in almost that long and we haven’t spoken on the phone in forever.

She was a strange bird in the time that I knew her.  She lived in the most beautiful places (at least they are to me!) and would take us on hikes, all sorts of outdoor activities  (most likely to protect her furniture from the grimy hands of 4 rug rats.)  She wasn’t a great cook and for the longest time I didn’t understand why her orange juice that yes, you had to finish, was so bitter.   Found out in my 20s that she was cutting it with white grapefruit juice.

She was the rules queen.  No talking unless spoken to.  Eat with one hand in your lap unless you were using a knife and NEVER put your elbows on the table.  I once ALMOST said she was mean.  I amended it to say she was firm.

She once mailed me a meticulously packaged box of all sorts of plant samples from her new home.  Each with a little bit of water so that they wouldn’t dry out.  It was a little gross actually.  But I would love to receive that package today, to pour over the flora and her notes on each one.

Before I sat down to write this post I had called my mom to ask her what she knew her mother’s childhood and she couldn’t tell me anything.  It wasn’t something she talked about.  Unfortunately it’s lost and I’m very sad to not have that to share with my daughter, let alone my own loss.

But I am very conscious of this desire to know my family and I understand the need to hide the skeletons.  So I’m doing my best to record these snippets of memories and asking my family to help.

Are you recording your families memories?  How are you doing it?  Is there a question you want to ask a family member that can’t answer you?

7 Responses to Day 7 Gramma, how I wish I could know you.
  1. Jamie
    April 7, 2010 | 11:24 am

    I think this is SO important! It's part of why I blog. To keep a record of those stories of how we lived and who they were someplace. I'm not so neat with the handwriting. ;) When I was a little girl my favorite thing to do was to as my Great-Grandma to tell me a story about when she was little. I love knowing what I know about her and how I can pass that along. It's precious.

  2. Red Shoes
    April 7, 2010 | 1:29 pm

    This touches me in all the right places… I've posted way too much maybe about a Grand Mother I never knew… yet, feel that I know ALL too well…

    I know that my Paternal Grand Mother died in Southern Illinois on January 10, 1929… and when Mom and Dad returned home from the cemetery, there was a message for Mom to get to her home as soon as possible… her Mom died just a few days later… my Maternal Grand Mother was only 32 when she died… :o ( So much Life ahead of her…

    Like Jamie, I post in part to honor my family members… although I do have some posts on there that they would probably be embarrassed to read about!!! :o D


  3. Red Shoes
    April 7, 2010 | 1:34 pm

    Addendum: I have written down the stories that I recall having heard my Dad tell… I've also posted some things in my blog about my family… some of it good… some not so good… but it was told lovingly…

    For whatever my Dad did to hurt my Mom, I still love him so… and I SO miss my Mom… I just posted a photo of Grand Mother Brown holding her son (my Dad)… it's one of the most precious photos Ive ever seen… he always spoke so lovingly and highly of her… and it shows in the photo…


  4. Melissa
    April 7, 2010 | 1:51 pm

    I'm writing my grandmother's memoirs with her. It's amazing the things there are still to learn about someone who I have known for 32 years …

    I've also started working on family history stories – my mom and I drove back from Dallas together last summer and I got to pick her brain about dating my dad in college. It was wonderful!

    And I have all of my parents' photo albums from when we were kids, and their wedding, etc. My plan is to scan them all in when I have free time (ha ha ha) …

    I think recording these things is soooo important. I'm so sorry you can't ask your grandmother for new information. Start asking your parents to tell you about her childhood. If you can't start with your grandmother, that's the next best thing.

  5. MikeWJ at Too Many Mornings
    April 7, 2010 | 2:41 pm

    There's so much I'd like to ask my grandparents now that I'm older and appreciate my elders more than I used to. But, alas, they're all gone.

    I did have an aunt that sounds a little like your grandmother, though. She used to hit me on the hands with a spoon if I leaned my elbows on the table. She was a wonderful woman who taught deaf and blind kids how to talk.

    What really interests me about your post, though, is that odd moment of connection you had with a stranger while you were driving. Isn't that weird when that happens–you look out, they look up, and there's an instaneous, inexplicable connection made that lingers, and in your case, that triggers a host of other memories. Explain that….

  6. Florida Dom
    April 7, 2010 | 6:32 pm

    You might ask family members to sit down with a tape recorder and tell the story of their lives. Or you can sit with them while they do it and ask questions to fill out their stories. It's great to save these memories so they aren't lost forever.


  7. Blissed-Out Grandma
    April 8, 2010 | 12:12 am

    My hubby interviewed his mom on her 85th birthday and recorded her stories, which she punctuated with uproarious laughter. On her deathbed 10 years later, he played a few bits of it for her, and after she died he made copies for all his siblings. It was really a nice thing.

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