I was going to write about my mom but it never turns out as good as I want, so instead for Mother's Day, I'll write about the other woman who has had the greatest impact on my life, my Great-Grandmother.
She was born in 1898, so in her lifetime she had witnessed changes like none of us living today have. Two world wars, the Korean War, Vietnam, The Great Depression, movies, radio, tv, Rock and Roll, civil rights movements, and so many other changes that would be too many to mention occurred during her lifetime. When it seems like our modern world is falling to pieces, I just think about all that she lived through and know that, we'll be okay.
I've written about her before. She went through several personal tragedies in her life. She watched her mother burn to death after her mother's apron had caught on fire. Her father was a rather cold and distant man but he too died young. She lost a young child to a tragic accident and a daughter in her 30s to cancer. She watched her sons go off to war and come back forever changed and haunted by the things they had seen. She had a mentally disabled sister, who she sent money to even though she had very little money to spare. Her husband was often abusive and an alcoholic.
She washed wealthier neighbors laundry to make money for her children, then grandchildren because my great-grandfather usually blew the family's money on booze. She'd have enough change to send her grandkids to the movie theater when my grand-father was abusive towards them.
You would think that she would have been beaten down and bitter but she wasn't. She taught herself how to read and write and did what she had to do to survive. She laughed a lot though I could see the stress in her face. She worried about each and every one of us, whether we lived nearby or a thousand miles away.
There was never any doubt that she cared and there was never any doubt there would be a meal prepared for anyone stopping by – usually fried chicken. Always fried chicken!
I loved her stories about growing up in Oklahoma and having to run through the fields with a metal bucket over her head when hail storms came up. She critiqued Little House on the Prairie for being inaccurate. She said she was poor but always had more than one dress to wear, unlike Laura Ingalls. However, nobody would ever want to wear anything she made because she was a horrible seamstress. Even her sons learned how to sew at an early age so they didn't have to wear anything she made to school.
I come from a long line of women who can't sew worth a darn. I still have the shawl my mom began crocheting in 1964 and never completed. I'm not sure what look she was trying to create with it but it's interesting!
She hated the aluminum Christmas tree she had and thought it looked ridiculous but I thought it was awesome! How 30-40 people fit in her little house at Christmastime I don't know but there was always a place for us.
She was old fashioned about relationships. When my parents were dating and my mom came through the door one second late, her full wrath would descend upon my mom. She would accept no excuses. I like that, especially now that I'm the mother of a teenage daughter and know what worries accompanies raising a girl.
The greatest thing that my great-grandmother gave us was her own example. She didn't have a formal education but she taught us more than can be measured. She didn't have a lot of money but was always willing to give what she could. She couldn't sew and luckily store-bought clothing solved that problem.
I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to know her and hear stories from the early 1900s and realize that people really weren't that much different then than they are today. Moms and grandmothers still worry about their daughters and grand-daughters. Family still matters and legacies live on.