My mom’s mom passed away on Thursday. She was 91 and a half. Over the last couple of years Grandma’s formerly strong, active farmer’s body has been a challenge to maintain, and this last month she faded quickly. Mom kept us posted with emails about her condition, and we kept her in our prayers.
Grandma was practical woman with a big heart and a strong sense of who she was. She educated herself, made her choices and trusted God to take care of what she couldn’t. She expected us to do the same.
For several years growing up, I got to spend a week or two at Grandma and Grandpa’s farm each summer, and sometimes at Easter, too. She’d saddle up the ponies for us in the corral and let us figure out what to do on them while she milked cows or weeded the garden. If we whined that the horse had stuck its nose in a corner and wouldn’t move, she’d shout out a suggestion to deal with it “Pull his nose around to your boot and keep it there ’til he moves!” and keep on milking.
She took me out saskatoon picking a-horseback when we’d go out to the back 40 to count the cattle. I still think of her when I pick saskatoons, no matter where I find them. Once when we were heading out on the horses with our berry pails, Grandma’s horse stumbled and she fell off. After she was done scolding the horse, she told me the key to falling well was just to relax and roll with it. Then get back up and carry on. That lesson is part of who I am.
She’d set us to shelling peas before dinner. She made really good creamed peas. She often tried to grow new and different things in her huge farmer’s garden. Even in her seniors apartment, she grew tomatoes and flowers from seed. She let us name her goats’ baby kids, gave us goat’s milk to drink, and served us billy-goat stew. She made good bread from grains she’d grown herself. Canned saskatoons over ice cream was a favourite dessert. She recycled stuff all the time. She was Green and healthy way before it was trendy.
This spring I marveled at all the different things she and Grandpa had tried on the farm. As she tallied up their experiments for me, she warned “NEVER raise turkeys. Stupid things…”
She hauled my brother and I off the tractor when Grandpa shouldn’t have taken us out on it. I had a blast bushwacking with and without her in the woods behind her house. She helped out in sending us to summer camp, to college, and was generous when our kids were little and we were struggling. When my cousins and I all gave birth to daughters in the same year, she gave us all new sewing machines she found on sale. It didn’t matter if we didn’t sew. We’d figure it out.
We’d go to church with her on Sundays. Her and Grandpa’s parents were some of the settlers who founded a small country Lutheran church, and she and Grandpa were active members. Grandma was an active member in a lot of things. Even in her retirement years in town, she swam, played horseshoes, bowled, and sang with the Sunshine Singers. When the Lutheran church was too far to walk in later years, she shuffled her walker over to the Anglican one. She wasn’t one to complain, and she didn’t make excuses.
When I visited her this summer she asked how my tatting was going. I said “Grandma, I don’t know how to tat. I don’t even know how to knit.” She chuckled and leaned forward, “Shame on you!” Yarn/string craft has just moved up on my to do list.
We’ll be heading up to her funeral later this week. Peace, Grandma.