Grandmas, those women who love you no matter what. Both my grandmas were strong women who made their own way in the world. They did not choose careers in male dominated areas, they did not make breakthrough discoveries, they did not travel the sea and go through Ellis Island to become American. They did make their own way on their own. They raised families. They told stories.
|Grandma Moss as a Young Woman|
My father’s mother told me the story of how she became a nurse. I was four when she told me and remember sitting on the coach beside her, my feet sticking straight out in front of me enraptured by her adventure. In a nutshell, here’s her story.
When she was 11 or 12 Elsie Mae was delegated, by default, the task of taking care of her sick family as well as the threshers. (For those of you who may not know back in the days of Elsie Mae’s youth when it was your farm’s turn to house and feed the threshers in return for the threshing of your grains, it was your turn and it had to be done.) But when she expressed her desire to become a nurse, her family frowned and told her to become a teacher. So Elsie Mae learned how to teach and taught only long enough to make enough money to put herself through nursing school. She forsook the thought of marriage for that of career … Until she met the son of the woman she was caring for. At the age of 30 Elsie Mae and Will married under the firm understanding that she was not an unpaid nursemaid for his mother and that she would have a career.
Grandma was 70 when I was born and left this world at 75. The snippets I remember of our time together are strong.
|Grandma and Grandpa Fisher|
50th Wedding Anniversary
My mother’s mother spent seven years of her young life living on a homestead in Nebraska where her father eked out a living until their farm was wiped out either by grasshoppers or locusts. She told stories of playing hide the thimble (until it became irretrievably lost) and making chickens talk. They came back to Iowa when she was eight. The boys were born and her mother died. Laura went to live with the German aunts back in Germany until her father remarried and gathered all the children again except Willis the youngest who didn’t remember any of his family. The new mother was, in Laura’s words, a drunkard. The girls did all the work and one by one left the family during their early teens. Laura wanted to finish school, but needed help with math. A handsome young engineer who ate lunch at the restaurant where she worked came to the rescue. He tutored her in math and eventually asked her to marry him. Laura consented. They lived with her in-laws for awhile until in a fit of fury her mother-in-law threw a pair of scissors at her while she was nursing her first born. Laura and Ed left and never lived with his parents again. Laura raised five children in various houses throughout the Davenport/Muscatine areas in Iowa. She dedicated her life to family.
Grandma’s house was a safe place to spend two weeks every summer. In fact most of my summertime memories are from the Farm where my grandparents lived out their lives.
I'm a grandma myself now and hope that I am making an impression on my grandsons.
How did your grandma(s) shape you?