14 April 2011


Today would have been my grandmother's 93rd birthday.  When I was growing up, I loved that our birthdays were so close together because it seemed like the cosmos were confirming how close we were in life.  For a lot of reasons, I spent a huge portion of my childhood tromping over to her house.  She lived next door and I spent long summer hours sitting on the cool cement of her steps.  We looked after each other as strange as that may seem given that I was just a kid.

My grandmother was a tough lady, not in terms of her personality, but in her ability to survive and make do with what came her way. She was born in 1918, the only daughter of Albina and William. Her father was a carpenter and her mother cleaned houses. They lived in a small house in town filled with visiting family.  She never finished high school.  The first time she married, I would like to believe it was out of love, but maybe I'm just saying that because I want that for her, I want to believe that she felt that bright and shining moment of early love. That marriage didn't work out and neither did the next one or the next one. By the time she finished with her third marriage, she was done with men and I can't say that I really blame her. Though obviously she was a common denominator in all of these relationships, I believe it was less her fault and more her inability to partner with men who were in a good place in their own lives.

As I said in my earlier wedding post, my grandmother worked and saved to secure her own property not long after her first husband (my grandfather) left.  She worked hard, weathered a lot of storms by her own self-sufficiency and despite some missteps along the way, raised two of the greatest guys I know. 

My grandmother didn't have a lot of advantages in terms of education or finances, but what she did have she managed to share with others.  Many people who hadn't spoken to her in years came to us after she passed away to let us know that they survived and managed based on what she was able to give to them. I think she would have brushed off any compliments, she wasn't one to take them, but I'm proud that we shared this life together.

Thelma wasn't one to embrace fashion in any way. She made her own clothes which were constructed for practical purposes, she cut her own hair, and tended to dodge the eye of the camera. But here, is my lovely grandma in the few moments she was caught by the camera:

This is my grandmother and grandfather in 1937

My grandmother and my father in 1943

My grandmother wearing my grandfather's suit

1 comment:

Emily & Gracie said...

I really enjoyed this post! Your grandma seems like she had a good head on her shoulders. Ill bet she was a fantastic person and wonderful to grow up with.