Happy Birthday, Grandma

She was born on June 13, 1915, to a farm family in the Missouri River bottoms near Glasgow, Missouri. Along with her twin brother, she entered a family that to this day remains one of those families. You know, the families that make towns and parish communities run.

She grew up a farm girl, married a farm boy, and raised a family (and a humongous garden) in Moberly. And when her husband went to his eternal reward, she moved to town, dug up another garden almost as big as the one in the country (all by hand, mind you), and went right back to work.

She was a fixture in my childhood, which I spent on the farm she had built with her husband. She came out to the farm regularly to help Mom keep up with the weeding, the harvesting, the freezing and canning. We used to circle up around big galvanized tin wash tubs covered with blankets and spend all day sitting in the shade, shucking and processing sweet corn, breaking beans, shelling peas, telling stories. Of course, children don’t appreciate the treasure trove that is a grandmother’s mind. I wish now I’d asked for more family stories during that time, when I had no kids around splintering my attention, and I could really have drunk deep of the well of knowledge.

She worked in the school kitchen as a substitute for moms who had jobs—which meant she was there virtually every day, covering somebody or another. She had us over for Sunday breakfast after 8:00 Mass, and her cinnamon rolls were the highlight of the meal, and something we saved room for. Whenever my older sister and I rode our bikes to town for a shopping trip, we stopped at Grandma’s to cool down and get a drink before heading downtown to the library, the music store or Maurice’s. And when Mom and Dad took one of their infrequent business trip weekends away, picking up combine tracks in South Dakota or farm equipment in Nebraska, we would sleep on Grandma’s couch.

These days she’s given up the garden and the house, and traded it for “high-rise” apartment where she welcomes great-grandchildren to stand on a stool at her window and watch the freight trains rumble into the railroad yards. I could say much more about Grandma, my spitfire Grandma, but I think I’ve already gone on quite long enough for one blog entry. And yesterday, we celebrated her 95th birthday.

Happy birthday, Grandma.

#219) Playing on the playground and getting absolutely soaked watching nephews and children playing in the rain

#220) My novels critique group

#221) The wind in the curtains

#222) My first cake (more on that subject later this week)

#223) An evening with cousins and sisters

#224) zipline through the woods (yes, that would be me)

#225) treehouses in the woods

#226) the evening shadow of my home falling across the woods

#227) my retreat corner overlooking the woods

#228) what I find when I hear the little ones giggling at each other after they’ve “gone to bed”

holy experience