When I was very little, we lived next door to my mother’s parents. My grandparents had sold their extra lot to Mom and Dad and Dad built the house. Dad was a carpenter and I must say, a damn good one. His father helped him build it, because he too, was a carpenter. Grandpa Carey was also an ornery old cuss, but he was fantastic to be around.
Grandpa Henry died when I was 5, so we spent a lot of time with Grandma Nannie. She was one of 11 children and hadn’t been to school past the 3rd grade. She worked in the bean factory up until she didn’t need to work any longer. She lost her eldest son in WWII.
Grandma was the funnest person to be around. She laughed a lot, played games and would do anything for me. Once when I was reading Little House on the Prairie books, Grandma would make me indian pudding (corn meal mush to her) which became one of my favorite foods – and still is. She also would bake apples for me and she could always find the prettiest dolls for Christmas! Mine was always dark-haired, like us.
When I was six Grandma had enough worrying about two of her children and decided to move to California to live near her eldest daughter. My family and I piled into an old ’53 Buick and took off across country to deliver her to her new life. It was an exciting trip. I can remember Mom holding onto the back seat and the dashboard of the car and just being hysterical about the sheer drop off the mountain roads. Grandma laughed, as always.
When we arrived in California, I was struck by the difference in light from Illinois. It seemed as if the sun shone brighter or something in California. We did an amazing amount of tourist things, including Disneyland, before we took off to head back home some two weeks later. I got to see my favorite aunt, her children and my uncle. I was sad to leave Grandma there, but I had many visits to look forward to as she would fly back to Illinois to visit pretty often.
Upstairs in my attic I have two super-large tubs filled with family pictures. Mom kept every picture the family ever had, some dating back to the 1800s. At one point I delved into genealogy and got pretty far, but then life intervened. I think genealogy is a full-time pursuit and I have socks to knit!
Grandma died when I was 19. I’ve missed her every day since and I’m really sorry she didn’t get to meet my son, who looks exactly like my Uncle Lester and Grandpa Henry – she knows that though ……..