Two, ‘for-fun’, blogs in a row; I love it. It’s really fun to just sit down and just write a bit. I haven’t had a blog where I just write since that terrible one from the mid-2000’s (I refer to that one as, ‘she-who-will-not-ever-be named’.) This blog, in-particular, has taken me nearly three weeks to finish (I get interrupted a lot, what can I say?), but today, it is going to be finished. (It’s a Christmas-themed one–I know if I wait until even one day after Christmas, I’ll lose all steam to finish it at all.) Anyway, I’m going to take this blog to write about my Grandma for a few minutes–she’s been on my mind lately, it seems fitting. Here’s a bit about her, in a nutshell…
I’m super lucky that I have been able to grow up, always living within a relatively close proximity to my Grandma–I’m also super lucky that she’s still here with us. (I lost my other Grandma when I was just tiny, I don’t take this for granted.) She’s a unique woman, to say the least. She grew up, on a farm in Southern Minnesota, during the depression, with her three siblings. Her nickname was Babe–as she was the baby of the family. (Side note: Rose on the Golden Girls, makes me laugh SO hard because she is, basically, my grandma.) My grandma’s dad was a Bohemian orphan who came to America as a child; her mother was German. They were both good people who lived a good life. (I have fond memories of my great-grandmother. She would let me raid, and keep, something from her jewelry box every time we visited. I hope to do the same things with my great-grandkids someday. ❤ Note to self: also get some actual jewelry someday.) My Grandma still talks to the friends she had in the one room school house she attended back in the 30 and 40’s. The remaining ones even visit her to this day. From the 50’s-80’s, my grandma raised her six kids on the Eastside of Saint Paul (the same home that she lived in until 2017). She had a career in banking at the time that the banking industry let women take the summer off to be with their children over summer vacation. She never got her drivers license and used public transportation, her legs, and her friends/family, to get her everywhere she ever needed to go. Despite being a devout Catholic, her, and my Grandfather, divorced during a time when divorce was still something others, literally, gasped at. She is a lifelong volunteer–the last place she spent a great deal of time was, was at the Lifecare center, just within walking distance of her home; she spent hours, and hours, putting together layettes for babies born to young, single, and low-income parents.
My grandma always has a wide array of friends, and acquaintances. She has neighbors that she has been friends with for 50 years. She corresponded, for years, with a woman she met at a bus stop who had since moved to China. Her mail people are even her friends. She belongs to birthday group made up of several older women who travel around, monthly, to celebrate each other’s birthdays. Within the last few years she has spent time going to jam sessions, senior prom, many Culver’s visits and enjoying many, many, coffee dates around her kitchen table. I can, honestly, say that that woman has more of a social life than I ever have, and probably ever will. (This passed weekend, btw, she disappeared from her nursing home–her and her friends needed to make a trip to Culvers during the Vikings game. I get it though–Culver’s really is the best.)
At 85 she finally needed to leave her home. She lived alone, and her safety was at risk–between falls, memory issues, stubbornness and a final stroke, she left to go to a nursing home. (When I say stubbornness I am, specifically, thinking about a photo that the neighbor snapped a few years back. It’s her, shoveling a fresh snow fall. On her roof. Seriously. That image still makes me laugh so hard–she is incredible. And, honestly, I would probably have been doing the same thing. It’s just a little scary to think about her being all alone while doing those things.)
Anyway, as we were cleaning out her home, getting it ready for the new family to move in to–we started noticing that almost everything she owned–every vase, every wall hanging, every homemade item, every photo, they were ALL labeled. Things all had a name, and a date, and if there was anything significant about it. One framed photo, the same photo I have seen all my life, in the same spot it had been all my life, was labeled: ‘from Jeannie, 1980. The day the house was paid off.’ My grandma’s eclectic decorations turned out to not be eclectic at all–it was all part of one, bit, matching collection. Another piece of wall art made from fish rocks, that was another one that I had seen all my life, it was labeled ‘1968’. Apparently, it was a craft project that her, and her neighbor, did at the local playground, in 1968. Almost everything in her home was either a gift, or homemade. The porcelain bull head on her wall turned out to be a gift from my sister, and I–back in 1985–we had been looking at it for years, and never even remembered giving it to her. This experience, the one of helping to clean my grandma’s home, was one of the most inspirational things I have done in years, and years. The idea of having almost everything I own being either a gift, or handmade, makes me want to dump everything that doesn’t fit those qualifications. (I’m slowly working on donating a LOT already. In my head, I’d like it to be a dramatic dumping though.)
Fast forward to the Christmas part of this blog–this year, almost all of the decorations around my house, came from the cleaning of my Grandma’s attic this past summer. She made everything–and, this was long, LONG, before Pinterest. These days, she doesn’t remember her ornaments; in fact, she told my mom that someone else must have made it all. I know the truth though. 🙂 Her memory, these days, may not be able to recall things so perfectly, but they almost make all of these ornaments that much more special to me–because, all of these little ornaments are now for us to make new memories with. Here are a few of the favorites that I have around my house right now; bonus, they’re all hung on the homemade ‘garland’ she crocheted. ❤ (And yes, I still hide candies in the little candy holder decorations. She always did that when we were little–it was magical to find an ornament with candy in it! My kids are loving the tradition, too. ❤ )