“A Eulogy to My Grandmother. My Mom’s Mom.”
26 July 1996
Martha, Matty, wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and Christian, my grandmother was all of these and more: Martha to some neighbor friends, but mostly Mattie; a good wife for more than 50 years to my grandfather, Guy; mother of 5 children, 3 sons and two daughters; grandmother to at least 10 grand children and great-grandmother to at least 30 smaller souls. My grandmother was known and loved by many, many people.
Borne before there was such a thing as indoor toilets; television, or microwave ovens, although she never worked at a paying job, my grandmother was one of the hardest working women I have every known, for my grandmother was a hard working father's wife with everyday filled with; a garden to plant, weed and harvest; canning; chickens to tend and eggs to collect; cooking and house chores of all types. And who can forget her kitchen with the big old wood-fired stove where grandma cooked up pancakes, eggs, garden vegetables and meats of all varieties and those cold, dark mornings before work or during hunting season when the kitchen was bright and warm and filled with good food smells and the table was filled to the point you had trouble getting an eating plate on it. Grandma may have not been a gourmet but she knew how to cook just about anything her family brought her, from fish, deer, and turkey to duck and bear and she sure knew how to feed hungry men for no one ever, ever, left her table hungry for grandma was one those women, no matter how much a person ate, always tried to get you to eat more, another pancake, another ear of corn and made you feel guilty if you didn't eat one more helping of everything. And I wonder how many folks eat at her table over the years? Thinking about it and how my grandfather liked deer hunting season and how he would invite hunters in to hunt on their property and of course have breakfast or lunch, I imagine there are tens if not hundreds of folks who sat at her kitchen table over the years and enjoyed her cooking. And want something you did not see on the table? No problem, for all grandma would do would be to go out on her side porch and pull whatever you asked for from one of the two, full size, chest freezers she kept there or she would go to the root cellar and pull a jar of food she had prepared long ago.
But grandma was more than a cook. I can remember when her kitchen was home to a table full of women making comforters from old blankets and talking an afternoon away and how can I forget hog butchering day when the side yard would be full of people making sausage, bacon and lye soap.
A somber women, perhaps from all the hard work, she could also smile a shy smile and laugh and I am told sing, although I never heard her sing a tune but I did hear her play an old console piano more than once. Grandma also could and did write letters and notes very well, as for many years after I was married and saw her very infrequently, every Christmas would include a card from her and a nice, well penned, letter and she never, ever forgot to send a thank you card for some small present she had received and I am told, although she never would be one to brag about herself, as a school student, she once won a spelling contest.
Never one to wear makeup or any I can remember and little or no jewelry, she dressed plainly in long cotton dresses, never shorts or pants and although she wore little or no makeup, she did like to have her hair fixed nicely and so many times I saw the same warm old kitchen used as a hair salon where grandma's hair was washed, dyed and finally dried. Once after dying, through some fluke, her hair turned out purple. Ahead of her time, my grandmother.
If one can predict whether or not a farmer will survive and be successful by the size of his junk pile, that saying should be modified to include his wife, for grandma saved just about everything and wasted nothing. In her attic she kept bows and wrapping paper salvaged from presents she received, wrappers from store bought loaves of bread, tin foil and empty cereal boxes and unlike other folks who might have saved such stuff but never used it, grandma did. Much of what she kept in her two freezers was wrapped in bread wrappers.
I have heard speakers giving an eulogy say, that the deceased person had a full life and grandma’s sure was. I wonder now, how many of her grand children came to stay with her during the summer? I know I did and my brother and some of my cousins and how much teaching she did, by example and in words, to all those kids? And although she worked hard every day and was always busy when I or someone else came to visit and even though she was not really a talker, she always asked about me and my family and remembered all her grand children's names and what they were doing in their lives.
Yes, grandma was loved by many people. One only has to look at family reunions we used to have and how folks would come up to her and my grandfather and ask how they were and how, in the last years of her life, her children were always there, caring and providing for her.
Grandma was 92 years of age when she died and really was a remarkable woman. Quiet and perhaps even shy, she really influenced the lives of many, many people over the years and I know, I will not forget her.