My grandmother and my cousin 30 years ago
I was hesitant to use this picture since the people in it do not know I blog, but this is such a great picture of my Maw Maw. Sorry, I cropped out my uncle, but only because I am not sure he would want his pic on the internet or on my blog. I do love him, too. So, look at my Maw Maw. Do you have a Maw Maw? I doubt many of you do. It is so rare to have such an old fashioned woman in your lives. Ladies today want to be called by anything other than a grandmotherly term. And the very thought of wearing all handmade clothing like she is wearing would send a modern grandmother running for the nearest department store or mall. She is missing her prairie bonnet in this picture. She would often be found wearing hers in her garden or while she was chopping wood for her wood burning stove. Yes, I said WOOD BURNING stove and yes, up until a few years ago she lived on her own and cooked her meals on that stove. She did have an electric "hot plate" that she used some since she was alone (a hot plate is like a two burner ministovetop). And those bonnets... well, they helped to put dinner on her table. She has been a widow since I was four, so I guess that would be about 36 years. Selling bonnets, homemade stuff animals and dolls, and quilts were her way to make some money to go along with what she got from Social Security each month. The last I heard her Social Security payment was about $400 a month. Amazingly, she had everything she needed. She minded her money well and stretched it further than anyone I have ever known. There was no waste or none that I was aware of. I can not imagine there is room in the budget to waste much more than a penny with that sort of income. She She is in her 80s. And yes, up until a few years ago she gardened and quilted. She canned and cooked everything from scratch. And she had chickens. She loved her chickens...and I always thought she was crazy for that until last year when we started raising chickens. I wish I had understood her wisdom. She was "simple", yet there is so much wisdom in simplicity. She raised eight children and I do mean raised, because I think "reared" is just too pretty of a word. I am certain her life was messy and hard, especially since her husband suffered from some psychological issues, as well. I know there was a period time he was out of the home due to it. Life was different then, also. She married when she was a mere thirteen years old. I can not even wrap my mind around that sort of thing. Today it would be illegal for sure. She birthed her first child that same year. She was merely a child herself giving birth and the doctor that her husband brought to her broke the baby's neck, so her first baby was stillborn. She went on to lose two more over the years for other reasons. She was married to a harsh man that was harsh to their children. I can not imagine how hard it must have been to raise her children and the loneliness that can be overwhelming in those situations. You could always find her Bible lying next to her chair in her home and words like "fool" and "butt" were considered profane.
I miss the days of seeing her moving around and living life, but she is living and we are able to go see her and talk to her. I just had to ponder today how many people have had the experience of a truly old fashioned Maw Maw like I did. I was not super close to her since I shared her with something like forty grandchildren... or more. I never could keep count of all the cousins I had. Anyway, there were some of the cousins that had broken homes and now I realize they needed her and she was closer to them because of it. I guessed I realize that after my oldest child was born and saw the interest she had in my child. She had not come to see me on my birthday as a child that I could recall, but she came to Savannah's. It was then that I realized I had misunderstood her for all those years. She loved Savannah simply because she was mine and she loved be simply because I was my daddy's. She could be gruff at times, bit in hindsight I remember her as soft spoken, yet firm.... very firm. If she said, "Get out of that garden.", you knew you better listen. And if you did not listen you might find her having to "take care of you". Literally! Because if you got peppers in your eyes, she really would have to "take care of you"... with her remedies like pouring milk in your eyes. Yes, I was one of those kids that tested her to see what she would do if I did not listen. ;) I learned that she was telling me to save me from a bigger problem... and that I should have listened.
I wish I could go back in time and learn to quilt by her side or watch her embroidery. I wish I knew how she pieced each tiny scrap of fabric together to create a beautiful quilt. I wish I had HER bonnet pattern. I was the lucky recipient of her fabric stash, although I am not sure what I will ever do with it all. I do have her gift, though. I have the gift of being able to see something and do it. I don't understand how I know sometimes because I know some people look at an item and are puzzled by the very thought of how they might create the item. I feel that way about motors, so I understand that it is possible for someone to feel that way about fabric, building, crafting. Anyway, today I am just pondering my grandmother....
And I have always said, "That stepping in her house was like stepping back in time."