I have been thinking a lot about my Grandmother lately.
I don't know why, I just have been.
Please allow me to tell you about her.
She married my Grandpa in her early twenties. Both he and she were school teachers in rural Saskatchewan. They made their way to Regina where they had two daughters, one being my mother. There they lived their whole lives.
She was very strict. We daren't cross her, or heaven forbid, talk back. I don't know what she would have done if we did though. We wouldn't even try to test her to find out. She expected children to behave at home and in public. No difference. And behave we did.
Her house as always sparkling clean. She had a little bottle with a pierced lid like a salt shaker to sprinkle water on her ironing. She had a routine. One day was wash day, one was baking, one was the day she would go downtown. She used the very hottest water to wash dishes with. Scalding hot. She used Ivory dish liquid. I bought some a few years back and was disappointed that the scent had changed. She used Crest toothpaste and Promani hand lotion.
When I was a young mother with three little girls, she would take the cab to our house every Thursday and help me out. She would play with them and read to them and always take a nap in the afternoon. She was still as strict with my children as she was with me. And they adored her. After supper, Paul would drive her back home. In fact, he gave her her first ride in a pick up truck and to the dump her one an only time. Like I said, she was very fancy.
She taught me about gardening and gave me the love of it. My Grandpa grew Gladiolus and she had Mums and Lilies. She taught me to make plum dumplings. I recall her asking for my meatloaf recipe, which I considered an honor.
She and my Grandpa would always spend the evening in the front room having coffee, reading the mail and listening to the news. She taught me that it was not necessary to talk to my Grandpa all evening, just being together was the gift. Years after my Grandpa died I was visiting her and she was looking for something in her bedroom and we were talking. She picked up a little green angel whose wing had been repaired and tears fell down her cheeks. She told me that Grandpa had bought that for her many years ago, back when money was tight. She chided him for doing so, telling him it was a waste of money. And now, it brought tears to her eyes.
I never did appreciate how hard it must have been for her after he died. I was 19 years old when he died. I figured he was old and she lived with him a long time. Old people die. How wrong I was. She loved him. He loved her. I never saw them hold hands or kiss. They just didn't do that in front of people. But make no mistake, they loved.
When my Grandma was dying of cancer in the hospital only 6 years after my Grandpa died, I remember the very last thing she ever said to me. She spoke of how proud she was of me and of Paul's new job and of the kids, but the very last thing she ever said to me was "Don't give anyone my Lima bean recipe."
It is true. Seems funny now, especially since I have that recipe and it is not hand written but neatly clipped out of a woman's weekly magazine.
She died Christmas morning, 1990. She was 76.