Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Remembering Grandma

Ten years ago today, my grandmother passed away.

She was my mother's mother.  Here is a picture of my grandmother with her daughter as an infant:

My mother, the eldest of six children, passed away in 2000, seven years before my grandmother died at the age of 84. I know that was a great loss to her. Losing a child would be among the hardest things a parent would have to endure.

My grandmother was a homemaker. My grandfather, who died in 1976, worked at the Kroger warehouse in Salem. He had a strange shift; he went in very early and was always home by 4:15 p.m. That was also when he wanted to eat, so I remember many early dinners at my grandmother's house.

She kept me and my brother when we were young. My mother's office was only a block from my grandparents' house, so she could drop us off and pick us up without problem. After we started school, Grandma also kept us if we were sick, during school holidays, on the weekends, and during the summers. She did this until I was old enough to take care of my brother and myself all day.

Grandma was not overly strict. We had a few rules I can remember. Don't mess with Granddaddy's tools in the basement. Don't go near the river (she lived on the Roanoke River, in the area that is now a greenway, though her old home is one of the few that still stands along East Riverside Drive). Don't ride your bicycle in the middle of the street. Things like that.

She would rock you and sing A Bicycle Built for Two if you skinned your knee. She made chocolate pudding in the summer for special treats. Occasionally, if we were very good, we'd get a Granddaddy cookie (an Oatmeal Crème Little Debbie Cookie). (My grandfather carried them in his lunch.) She read to us, too, even though she never finished school. I remember one of her proudest possessions was a set of World Book Encyclopedias. I loved to sit and look at them, though I always had to do it with clean hands.

My grandmother's family is from Salem, while my grandfather's family hails from where I now live. My grandmother grew up on Front Street in this house:

My grandmother grew up in the house on the right; in her later years,
she lived with my aunt in the house on the left.**

After my grandparents married, they lived on Front Street, too, but above a general store. My mother was born in this store.

My grandparents lived in the apartment above. My mother was born there.**

Grandma loved to quilt. She gave me a beautiful maple leaf quilt for a wedding present. I have it safely stored away.

My mother, my grandmother, and my aunt
at my wedding in 1983.

Me and my grandmother at my

One of my best memories of my grandmother was when I was going to the prom (with a guy not my husband), and I made him drive all the way to Salem so I could show my grandmother my prom dress. She cried.

In 1985, we had a big flood and the Roanoke River, for about the 4th time, invaded my grandmother's house. She lost everything in the basement again. Fortunately the river never got into the main part of the house, but it sure made a mess of the basement.  Grandma was rather depressed after that. She didn't have my grandfather to help her clean up, so my husband and I, along with many other family members, volunteered to help haul away the smelly mess. At Christmas, when she refused to put up a tree, I resolutely went to the store and bought a small one and put it on a table for her. I don't know that it helped, but Christmas at Grandma's had always been special. I wasn't about to let that tradition go away. I did my best to buoy her spirits.

Not long after that, my aunt returned to the area and she built a house next to where my grandmother grew up. She moved my grandmother in there to live with her and my young cousin.

My grandmother fell in the late 1990s and broke her shoulder. After that, she became somewhat timid, and she moved to Georgia to stay with my aunt after my mother passed away. She came back here because she wanted to die "at home," which was in Salem. She stayed at an assisted living facility for several years before she passed away.

My grandmother in her older years.*
I think Grandma had a good life. Her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren have gone on to do interesting things. She took good care of us all.

Most of all, she loved us, all of us, no matter what we did.

*I just today learned that my grandmother's middle name prior to marriage, when her last name became her middle name as it is traditionally done here, was Odell. I found it on Ancestry. Her nickname was Rosie, and that was what most people called her.

** The photos of the houses came from Google Earth, so they are current pictures. Or as current as Google Earth is, anyway.


  1. How Blessed you are to have had your grandmother and grandfather in your life. All of my grandparents except my dad's dad died before I was born or a few years later.

  2. I grew up at my grandmothers too. I stayed with her more than I probably did my mom. My parents divorce took a while. They would split get back together, split get back together until finally they split. We moved 6 times in two years! My mother was a battered wife and wasn't sure she could do things on her own which is probably why I'm to the other extreme and try to everything on my own. My grandmother's house was safe no beatings there , only chores and love. She passed away when I was 12 and I often wonder what she would think about how I turned out. Would she be proud or think that I could have been or done better. She was hard on my mom sometimes as is my mom on me. I guess it is a family thing? We always had rules at her house. I had to help dust the furniture and make the beds every morning BEFORE I got breakfast and caught the school bus to go to school . Then when I got home from school it was homework first, help with dinner by setting the table and once dinner was over had to either wash or dry the dishes and sweep the floored in the kitchen . To this day when I go to someone's house for dinner I always either wash or dry the dishes or offer to set the table or clean it off after we have eaten. Guess old habits don't die as recently I stayed over at a friend's house for an unplanned dinner and offered to do the dishes. He said "no just enjoy it" but I dried them and put them away anyway. I've never really learned how to "enjoy" things being done for me. Maybe one day someone with patience will show me how to enjoy the moment and not fight it....


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