“The Good One”
I remember an old double length grey wool blanket that she would throw over her clothesline to make the most awesome tent for us on a hot summer day, along with homemade popsicles.
She was the best grandma a child could ever wish for.
This week, I asked my Mom to share a few memories of her grandmother, who was like a second mother to her.
I remember having three grandma’s – Big Grandma, Little Grandma, and Grandma Ina.
Little Grandma was my great grandma – a quiet little English lady who lived in a little house on the outskirts of Emo. I remember her house being dark and smelling of mothballs. She had a magnifying glass we played with and our treat would be an orange well past its best.
Grandma Ina came from a Scottish family and grew up during the depression. Her world revolved around the material things – not hugs, kisses, and time. Little time was spent with her own children as she focused on taking care of foster children who were a source of income.
In thinking back about Grandma Ina, the memory that comes to mind is that she gave me the worst Christmas present ever. It was a shimmery bronze coloured pant suit and it was so ugly. It did bring joy but not in the way she had intended. We laughed until tears streamed down our faces.
And then there was “the good one” – an Irish lady with a sparkle in her eyes and the best grandma a child could ever wish for.
We called her Big Grandma and I have no idea why, as she was not a big lady.
She had black hair and always kept herself looking so nice. I remember the time she tried to put highlights in her hair. She overdid it with the red and wouldn’t go out in the sunshine for days, as she didn’t want Grandpa to see what she had done. Oh how we laughed…
Grandma was always laughing with us.
As a young girl, I remember going with her to the local drugstore. I think she sprayed me with every perfume sampler there was. We giggled and laughed in the aisle.
I remember the time she made our very first pizza. It was from a box – a kit by Chef Boyardee. A cheese pizza consisting of a dough mix, a can of tomato sauce, a small package of parmesan cheese, and a little packet of spices. The pizza was god awful and we laughed and laughed.
Grandma was always laughing with us. She was so open-minded and with the times. I can even remember one time when she tried to get Grandma Ina to be more fashionable and wear a pair of pants, but that never went anywhere.
Grandma liked to dress up when she went into town, often wearing one of the many dresses she had made. Grandma was the one who taught me how to knit and sew.
I served a long apprenticeship in her tiny little sewing room where there was just enough space for a little daybed and her treadle sewing machine. I spent many hours on that bed watching her sew. We would pick out fabrics from the Sears or Eaton’s catalogue for the next outfit or project. Now, as an avid quilter, I go into quilt stores and look at all the fabrics and wish that Grandma were here to see all of the choices available now.
My very first memory of her involves two little red plaid dresses.
Until the age of 7, I grew up on a trapline in Northwestern Ontario where my best and only friends were my sister and brother. We spent a lot of time playing in the outdoors. Always a time of concern was spring break-up or fall freeze-up. At these times, extra care had to be taken as there was no way to get to a doctor if we were hurt. And depending on the length of the season, supplies could become sparse.
I remember a neighbouring trapper landing his small bush plane on the frozen river in front of the cabin, to deliver supplies and a care package from Grandma. In the package were two little red plaid dresses that Grandma George had made for my sister and I.
With her strong Catholic faith, Grandma must have said a lot of prayers for her grandchildren growing up in the wilderness – learning how to run boats and motors, and shoot guns at a very young age. It must have been an enormous relief for her when we finally moved into town to go to school.
If I wasn’t at Grandma’s for a sleepover on the weekend, I phoned her every day to talk. It’s been over forty years since Grandma passed away and I can still remember her phone number. 482-2454
The day she passed, I asked my mom, “Why did ‘the good one’ have to die?”
It was a terrible thing to say but I loved her so much. She was like a second mom to me. She had so little and gave so much.
I’ll always think of you Gram
when I smell sweet peas that were always on your kitchen table,
when I smell Herbal Essence shampoo that was always on your washstand,
when I drive down our laneway that used to lead to your house,
when I take out your little sugar bowl with purple flowers for my morning coffee,
or look at your old treadle sewing machine in my living room.
I’ll always remember the hugs, kisses, and time spent together. And I promise I’ll always remember to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day for you.
Writer’s Note: This post was written by Stella’s granddaughter, Peggy, a.k.a. my mom. I’ve always known that my mom had a very close relationship with her grandma – a relationship similar to my gram and I. Through the years, I’d hear stories about Grandma George – often short, as I think my mom still found it difficult to talk about her, even twenty years later. She missed her so much.
I heard about the Irish grandma who would dye everything green on St. Patrick’s Day and how my mom wished that Grandma George would have met her two redheads (my brother and I). She passed away before we were born.
Grandma George was the one who taught my mom how to knit and sew. As a result, I grew up with a mom who sewed the best Halloween costumes and could whip up a pair of homemade wool socks, mittens, or sweater in no time. My boys have received many beautiful gifts from her – sweaters, mittens, toques, socks, and quilts. It’s neat to think that something she loves to do today was a gift from her grandma.
Thank you for writing about her, Mom.