Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I have wonderful grandparent memories.

Ella is at the top of the list.  She was it.  The Grandmother.  She was just so "present".  I don't remember profound words that she said to me.

Let me think......

I was at her house, in her kitchen, before the house burned - so it was before they remodeled.  It was in the summer after the 3rd grade... I think... when her house burned.

She was peeling apples - I can see the back of her - she was facing the counter - and she asked me if I wanted to eat the apple peelings.  I did.  She told me they were good for me and why they were good for me.  I didn't understand and I didn't ask.  I just ate the apple peelings and enjoyed them.

Other memory - I'm in her lap and she's rocking me and I can hear the rhythmic tapping of her feet as she sings "Polly Wolly Doodle All the Day".  I can see where we were in her den/family room and all around me and the chair arms and how it felt to be in her lap.  I can see it.  And I can feel it.  I'm 59 and can still see and feel that.  And I can hear her singing.  It's foggy, but I can hear it.

Other memory - it's the afternoon, in the summer, before her house burned.  It's the afternoon of the evening her house burned.  I was at her house - she was making a cake and icing it with chocolate icing. She brought me the bowl to lick.  I couldn't lick it all.  She left me so much.  Mother always scraped the bowl so clean - there was little left to lick.  So I took the bowl to Ella and told her I couldn't eat it all and asked her to save it for me.

I'm 59 and just realized for the first time - she probably didn't save it.  I'm guessing she washed the bowl out.    That night all the family was at a little league game.  It must have been a big deal because I had a sprained toe and couldn't walk very well - Mother left me at home with a neighbor - sitting with me.  During the game it came to everyone's attention that Ella and Elbert's house was burning while they were at the game - my cousins playing in the game.

Mother came and got me - after calling the house to give us the news.  I remember hopping about on one foot and feeling very anxious until Mother got to the house to get me.  We all went to Ella's house after the fire dept. had extinguished the fire.  I remember Ella crying and asking her not to cry.  I was very disturbed about her crying and begging her not to cry.  She didn't hear me.

We all worked on the restoration of her house - cleaning the smoke damage that we could clean in the parts of the house which didn't burn - but the guys came in and remodeled and it was better than before.

Ella was just so available - words weren't necessary.  She was such a doer.  Always doing and being there - available and creative in her own way - with sewing and flower arranging and home decorating and cooking.  She was so strong and so active.

A profound thing she said - the  most opinionated thing I ever heard her say - It was during my college years and I was in her living room - Abortions were just being talked about.  I had never heard of them and the fact that people were wanting them legalized - I was confused.  It wasn't  something I'd ever thought about - so - sadly I questioned what I thought about it.  It was foreign to me.

There we sat - in her living room - and I suppose the news was on and something was said about abortions and that whole issue and she said to me, "Elizabeth, can you believe that they are actually trying to legalize abortion?"  She was appalled at the idea and that shaped my opinion forever.  I had been on the fence, not even understanding the issue - but because of her life and who she was and with that exact and definitive statement - well - I was no longer on the fence.  Now I know for myself and I still agree with Ella.

There are so many Ella memories - she had to give herself to 12 grandchildren, her husband, her four daughters and a little left over for herself and friends.  None of us felt slighted - to my knowledge.

I almost never "grandparent" without thinking of Ella.

At a family reunion, our oldest cousin, Bert, had written something addressing those family members who had died already - and to Ella he said, 

"Ella, you are the grandmother books are written about"


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