Thursday, January 13, 2011

I Don't Know How She Did It!

     Last night I went to bed cold and hungry.  I could have found something to eat that fits my current dietary restrictions  (no sugar, no corn, no gluten), but chose to be disciplined instead.  The cold is another matter... We have the wood stove, but it simply will not heat the entire house; we knew that when we got it.  We keep the central heat on automatic, with the thermostat set at 60 degrees.  Now, sixty degrees is a might chilly...  We also have an electric blanket, so I usually pre-warm the bed.  But, last night I just couldn't get warm, couldn't get comfortable, couldn't sleep.  CassPurr tried to comfort me with his wonderful purring in my ear, but I still couldn't sleep. Moshe was snoring like a freight train, so I knew he wasn't going to participate in  any conversations any time soon...  So, I thought and prayed.  Prayed and thought.  Tried to think of everybody I know... what does he or she need from God.  I prayed for our country.  I prayed for our finances;  we, like so many people nowadays, are struggling to make ends meet... What will become of us? accident from the 1930's...
     But, before the above-mentioned  "freight train" arrived, I mentioned to Moshe that I'd been thinking about my grandmother, and I just don't know how she did it. She lived on a farm in Michigan.  She was widowed at an early age; had several children to take care of.  Lost two children in an auto accident in the 1930's. (That must have been one of the earliest auto accident fatalities, no?)   She brought up those children during the Great Depression. She must have done a wonderful job, because my Mom says that their childhood was "just like The Waltons" - they even all had red hair!  Mom would've been the equivalent of "Elizabeth" - the youngest Walton girl...

The Waltons

 I never knew my grandmother all that well.  I saw her once a year at most until she died when I was sixteen. Whenever I saw her, she was cheerful enough.  Not overly talkative, but pleasant.  She ALWAYS wore a dark, printed dress with a full apron over it. Her hair was kept up in a rather untidy bun; but, a couple times I saw her brushing her hair out in the morning... It seemed like it was a mile long to a little girl - especially a little girl with short hair.  Her hair had been red when she was younger;  by the time I knew her, it was white like mine is now... with some dark hair in the back... just like mine.
      Minnie Harper.  A good country name.  With children's names such as Elva, Luella, Milo and Louie - to name only a few out the ten she bore.  They are all in heaven now, except my Mom.

corn crib,barn, and a few of the "aimless chickens"...

     But, how did she do it?  She lived in a big hand-built, fieldstone house. She never did get that indoor plumbing.  She had a pump, which, when properly primed, would supply one end of the kitchen with cold water. In her later years, different sons and daughters offered to build her a bathroom, but she declined their offers every time.  They got her a TV, but the only time it was  on was when company turned it on. When it was on, she would leave the room.  I remember her saying, "Those people on there can look right up my dress."  The family insisted that she have a phone, and someone got it installed for her.  She would answer it, but never once placed a call. She cooked, baked bread, and heated the house with two wood stoves. (Actually, I think one of them was a coal stove, come to think of it.)  She had dozens of chickens, which wandered aimlessly throughout her property... Hence, there wasn't a blade of grass to speak of in her "yard".
Grama's quilted pillow, alongside my Mom's doll, Tracy

   I remember when she had milking cows in the barn, and a mean-looking bull, which we kids were told to stay far away from. (Steer clear of the steer, dear?)  There were cats, but not the friendly kind like I had back home.  And she always had a dog.  I don't know how many dogs she had over the years, but it was always one at a time, they were always big brown dogs, and they were all named "Pat". The first "Pat" I remember was really smart and he knew how to turn the doorknobs and open the doors;  we kids thought that was just super-neato!

     In her "spare time" she quilted.  I have a couple pieces of her work, and they are treasures to me.  Completely hand-stitched; she didn't own a sewing machine.  I think she embroidered some, too, although I don't have any mementos of that.
     Amazing. I'm sure she read quite a bit. I never heard a radio playing in her house, although she may have had one.  She had a piano, but I never heard her play it. (Usually, it was locked when we visited... I was always insulted by that, because I actually played well. But, I guess when you're expecting a passel of kids, you'd be wise to lock the thing up before they all thought they should pound on it!)

     Of course, we always visited in the Summertime. I can't imagine how cold it must have been in January or February.  The closest house was a couple miles away, and the closest relative was about ten miles away.  She didn't have a car, but family took her to town "to trade eggs" every week or two.  There was an apple orchard, and fields of corn, wheat, etc, which my Uncle Louie cared for when I was growing up.  But, before that,  I can only guess that my Grama had to do it... Her and her children.  Wow.  How  DID  she do it?
some of my teacup collection

     It was a treat to be allowed to play upstairs at Grama's house.  There were two or three bedrooms up there, plus a little alcove where I loved to play.  I played with miniature china - real china - that had been my mother's when she was a little girl.   I still have one cup and saucer from that set!  Can you imagine?  In my later years, I started collecting cups and saucers.  I used to have two or three times as many as I do now... gave a bunch away, and sold a few as well.  Some are very ornate, some are probably valuable; but, the most-treasured one is that simple white miniature cup and saucer that somehow survived all these years...

the little teacup, alongside a "fancy" one

     When Grama died, the family put out the word that anyone who wanted anything should lay claim to it.  I told my Mom that I would LOVE to have one of Grama's old black rocking chairs.  I remember there were a few of them, all lined up in one room, alongside a couple of sofas, a daybed, the piano - it was a BIG room!

the old rocker, near our pot-belly stove...

      Mom got me that rocking chair and I still have it.  Decades ago, I stripped off the blackened varnish, to discover gorgeous golden oak.  Mom said she found out later that nobody took any of the other rockers... I can't imagine why.  It seems a shame, but when the property sold, the house was full of old rockers, china cabinets,  beautiful chiming clocks, probably the huge upright piano...with its' key.

 So, how did she do it?  I can only surmise that she had faith in God.  And, that God saw her through those many years, provided for her, cared for her, loved her, cheered her.
     And He will do the same for me - even when it's cold and I am hungry.

         Shalom  Y'all - Twyla


  1. Loved this blog. I could just see what you were talking about. Lou had told me about the brother and sister who died in the car crash. "Another thing we have in common," she said. Bill and I lost our oldest son when he was 18. He, too was killed in a car crash.

  2. it is a very interesting article.keep it up.Thank you very much