News flash: I was Grandma K.'s favorite grandchild. She never said it in so many words, but I always knew it. She was always delighted to see me and paid me attention as if I were the only child in the world. However, unfortunately, the other 21 grandchildren all felt the same way. I've had several of them tell me that they thought they were her favorite also. That's just the way she treated us - 22 individuals, each of whom was the most important person in the world to her.
Grandma K. was my dad's mother. She reared six children over a period of forty years - her youngest was born when her oldest was serving in the Navy during World War II. As children, my siblings and I loved going to her house. Some specific memories: Playing with her old-fashioned telephone. (Her number, until Ma Bell finally took over the small-town phone company, was 4-Blue.) Setting up cots in the living room for cousins to sleep on. Playing airplane on the stairs. Investigating the basement and pounding on the really old manual typewriter down there. Drinking Pepsi and eating pretzels after Sunday church. Being at huge family Christmases where everyone got all their presents and then tore into them at once - then all the gifts were displayed on the dining room table. Taking a bath in the huge claw-foot tub in the huge upstairs bathroom. Eating with pearl-handled forks and knives at the kitchen table - and the knives were fat and rounded at the ends. (Interesting the little details a person remembers about her childhood.)
Grandma K. was a great cook. There were differences in the foods that each of my grandmas presented out of their kitchens, but both were outstanding cooks. I especially remember Grandma K.'s cubed steak, her apple pie, Gridley cheese, and smooth cottage cheese. I also remember her Christmas candies and cookies. My dad and sister liked her chocolate cookies, but I preferred her fudge (to die for) and chow mein clusters.
I stayed with her on the weekends while going to school for a year in Illinois. She always had good food prepared; she always had a bedroom ready; and she always was delighted to see me. We would sit in her den and watch Lawrence Welk shows while she did needlework - tatting, embroidery, or crochet. Once I was really sick with strep throat, and she took me to her doctor, got the medicine, and took wonderful care of me. I never forgot that.
At that time, she had been a widow for about 17 years. She still talked lovingly of Grandpa K., and how much she loved him, and how much she still missed him. It seemed to me, an all-knowing 19-year-old, that that was practically a lifetime ago, and how could a person still miss someone who had been gone for 17 years. Now, with the perspective of my own age, the length of her love and sorrow seems much more realistic. It is very nice to know that they had a deep and abiding love.
|Grandma K. with my dad, in her den|
There was something about the way Grandma K. carried herself that was very reminiscent of the beauty of the olden days. I remember once when we were in the car, getting ready to go to church, and Dad was helping his mother to the car over the icy patches on the sidewalk, as she daintily held to his arm. I remember saying to my mom, "Grandma is really pretty, isn't she?" Which Mom affirmed quickly.
She had a lovely soft-spoken way of talking, and she would tilt her head and smile as she said something. She had fun phrases. She'd say "Well, forevermore!" And, if there was a young couple in love, she'd say that they were "dippy" about each other.
She was a good letter-writer. She gave presents to all her grandchildren at Christmas until infirmity prevented her from doing so. She loved us all. She didn't need validation from the outside world to feel like she was someone important; her family, her community, and her Lord and her church, made up her life.
Grandma K. passed away in 1992, and I took my then-9-month-old daughter with me on a plane to her funeral. She was a wonderful woman, and I miss her.