In the last post or so there was some discussion about how making things too easy for kids makes for softer and less resilient kids. I think it’s kind of an inevitable thing as a society becomes more advanced and shifts to a point where their offspring become the center of the universe. Perhaps the divorce epidemic is nature’s way of correcting things. When terrorists look at western culture, they see societies that are weak in their convictions and their resolve. They know if they kill enough, violently enough and over a long enough time, the western cultures will fold. With American and British resolve folding under and resolutions to withdraw (redeploy) being the order of the day, those of harder and more primitive stock are embolden to escalate their attacks and will hand us all a bloodbath we shall all not soon forget. They need only persevere, and we will surrender, run, abdicate and cower. We will be an overtaken and conquered people.
But today, I don’t want to talk about that. I’m away on the sort of family business that brings us all together. A few days ago, the matriarch of my family passed away. Grandma was 91 years old when she peacefully took the hand of Jesus and passed over to the other side.
Her world was so much different than the one we know now. Hers was a world which had much more in common with the one of the woman described in Proverbs 31 than the 21st century. And she epitomized all of those virtues like no other woman I have ever known. Even my own mother, as close to a saint as she is, had to struggle mightily to measure up to such an absolutely high standard.
Grandma was a master cook in a day when cooking a chicken meant catching it, chopping its head off, plucking it, gutting it, cutting it up and frying it in lard from a hog that had gone through a similar process. Her and grandpa started farming with horses, and gradually grew and expanded their operation that spanned hundreds of acres.
She was creative and produced countless crafts of all kinds. Sometimes she sold them and sometimes just gave them away. She could make Martha Stewart look like a pathetic prissy. She sewed many outfits for us when we were young kids and fixed, repaired and patched clothes long before buying new ones.
She was a master of finance and commerce. While Grandpa was the main breadwinner running the farm, her contribution was far from trivial. She had an orchard from which she sold apples and plums. She had a garden that was at least half an acre, and she canned food on a massive scale. She was the mistress of the garage sale world, and went out almost every Saturday morning during the summer, hunting for bargains. She wasted nothing. Clothing that was too worn to wear was cut up and made into patches or into quilts.
She lived and died by the saying “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” Her house (an old farmhouse) was kept immaculately clean at all times. In a way she was a bit compulsive about it, and I was one of many who didn’t always appreciate her insistence on staying on the newspaper or leaving the covers on the couches or even having to take a bath every single night when we stayed with her. Keeping everything spotless was a major challenge on a farm with a husband who smoked, and messy grandkids around. But she took absolute pride in pulling it off.
She helped raise us grandkids when we were young. She was everything a grandmother could possibly be. Oh yes, she did take some delight in sometimes spoiling us. She always had a candy dish that was perpetually stocked to the brim. She always had pie or cake or cookies and lemonade. She always had a song for us to encourage us. She seemed to always have time to play with us.
A person who came through the depression, she was as tough as nails. She was resourceful as well as generous volunteering with various church groups along with everything else she did. She always remembered our birthdays and I always got a card no matter where I had traveled along with a letter with her latest news.
She wasn’t perfect. As mentioned, she took the cleanliness thing a bit far. She and Grandpa retired millionaires most because they were freakishly frugal like most who survived the depression. She was huge into appearances, especially her own. She wouldn’t be caught dead without having her hair done just so and dressed just so. She had definite ideas about what was right and wrong, and no one was going to change her mind about certain things. This really came to a head when my uncle remarried and a blended family was created with teenage grandkids that took her years to begin to except.
She survived the very hardest years out on the farm in the harshest of places and raised four children who ended up excelling in their own ways.
But she did more than survive.
She thrived. Her and Grandpa retired and sold the farm to one of the sons in the 1970’s and the proceeded to travel the world. They took tours and cruises on every continent except Africa and Antarctica. After every trip, we all got souvenirs and saw the pictures and heard the stories. They visited every state in the union, and made friends around the world. This is the legacy of a people who worked hard all their lives, scraped and sacrificed and made good. We grandkids only saw the last half of this, and we sort of missed out on all the hardest times.
I’m going to miss Grandma and feel bad that my children will not have known any of my family from that generation. With each one that passes, the world is a bit more impoverished.