Thursdays are what people on social media sites call “Throwback Thursday”. Usually you post an old picture of you, a family member, etc. Today, I’d posted up a picture of my maternal grandmother, my Nan-nan, along with a little blurb about her. Then I came across a picture of me with my great-grandmother, my father’s grandma. I went to share that one as well, but the blurb grew and grew, and so I feel like that picture deserves a blog entry. I’ll probably do one of my Nan-nan as well, because both of them were so very vital to me.
Because I was raised by my grandparents, this is the woman I had the ‘grandmom/child’ bond with. I was so lucky to have her in my life until I was nearly 16. She had this bed of white strawberries, and I loved to spend time out in her yard picking them, along with her buttercups that grew in even greater numbers than dandelions do. I’d pick the buttercups and twist them into wreaths I’d wear on my head. I loved the way the insides of the flowers reflected the sunlight.
There are so many things I love because of her. Apricots and apricot juice, rice pudding with raisins sprinkled with Domino’s ‘Brownulated’ Sugar (granulated brown sugar), Lil’ Smokies (those little cocktail weenies), Jello that wasn’t completely set yet, and many, many more things. The smell of moth balls reminds me of her closets, a book of bedtime stories I’d always read before falling asleep at her house (that book is now safe on a bookshelf in my old bedroom at my grandmother’s house). The paper dolls she cut out for me.
I used to play in the basement, she had this massive collection of miscellaneous buttons she’d acquired, “Because you never know when you might need to replace a button”…when she passed away, my grandmother asked me if there was anything of Grandma Myers’s that I wanted. Those buttons are in my old bedroom at my grandma’s house. When I have a big enough house, I will take possession of them again, because yes, Grandma Myers, I never know when I will need to replace a button. And with three kids, there have been a few lost buttons that I have though “If only I had Grandma Myers’s buttons here”.
She had a lot of old books, and I’d spend hours reading them. But my favorite of all time was flipping through this old Sears catalog she had, from like the early 60’s. To me, it was a fascinating time capsule. That and it had the original Barbies in it, and I liked to look at all the different accessories…there was this little camping set for the Barbies, and it came with a fire pit that actually lit up. Even though Barbie had lots of cool light-up accessories, I wanted that fire pit so bad. Also, let me tell you, some of the clothing in the apparel section of that catalogue looked really cozy. Especially the pajamas.
She loved to knit, and I loved to watch her. Her daughter taught me how to use a circular loom to make hats and socks, but it was Grandma Myers who taught me the basics of knitting. My grandma didn’t have the patience to teach me (she tried, bless her, she tried to teach me, but I am not an easy pupil when it comes to things that require a lot of focus…ADHD that went undiagnosed until adulthood being the prime cause of that), but her mom sure did. Grandma Myers would have me over when my grandparents were away, needed some time to themselves, etc, and she lived like 10 minutes away from us, so I spent a lot of time there over the years. Well one day, I saw an unused skein of yarn and an empty pair of needles. Grandma Myers came into the living room to find me with the some yarn wrapped around the needles, trying to imitate the way she moved the needles. She was a fast knitter, so it always seemed to me that she just waved her hands together a lot and stuff would get made. I remember her laughing, and saying “You want to knit? I’ll teach you”. I was no easier for her than for my grandmother, but Grandma Myers would always know just what to say to calm any rising frustration. If I dropped a stitch, she’d show me how to pick it back up. I dropped a lot of stitches…if I messed up the knit beyond repair on the needle, she would make me rip it out and start over. She also had the wisdom to know that when I would get little tears in the corner of my eyes, that it was time to take a break. “We’ll come back to it in a little bit, Merry. It takes time, you’ll get the hang of it. I was once a frustrated little girl who just wanted to smack my hands together and make something like my mother seemed to be able to do”. Her patience was saintly. In fact, during my “I think I want to be a Catholic” phase, when I heard the word ‘saint’, hers was the face I immediately saw in my mind.
She told me stories of her family, her childhood, and I wish that I’d had a little more wisdom than I had at the time. I was a kid, so I didn’t fully understand. But if I were able to go back in time, I would hand myself a notebook and whisper “You might want to take notes”. She told me of a sister, Mary, who was 19 years older than her, who used to make dresses for her when she was a small child. I have a couple of pictures of me wearing that dress. My grandmother still has that dress. It is over 100 years old. Imagine that. That’s seriously very profound. She told me of a little sister, Effie, who sadly never saw her 5th birthday. She told me about a brother who died in France during WWII. She told me about American life during the Great Depression. She told me about her husband, a man who died before I was born. She told me about a family member (I can’t remember if it was her aunt, or her mother, or her grandmother), who was asked by her dying husband to fetch her some water. There was no ‘city water’ then. You either had a well or got your water from…I can’t remember…a water station? A water pump down the road? See why I would give myself a notebook? Anyways, by the time this relative got back to her husband, he had died.
When I was pregnant with KinderGirl, I wanted to name her Eva, in honor of my Grandma Myers. But where she was ‘ee-va’, I wanted my girl to be ‘ay-va’, in the hopes that, while she’d inherit the name, she’d still be able to add her own individuality and light to it. If I ever have another child, and that child is a girl, I still hold that desire in me to name her Eva.
My Grandma Myers was an amazing woman who I miss every single day. I know, I have always known, that to hope she’d be around when I had kids was highly unlikely, given her age. But I still held that wish. I hope that, if she hasn’t already started another journey of physical life, that her spirit can see me, my kids, my life. I think she’d be proud of how far I’ve come.