(This is the house my mom remembers)
My sisters and I are honoring our little granny today because this is her birthday. My mom knows about Grandma Evelyn Day but she has a lot going on this particular Sunday (church, a memorial service for a friend, my niece and her family coming to stay overnight). Since I've been reading my grandmother's diaries for a few years, I know a lot more about her than I did before. I suggested a few fun ideas to my older sister. My younger sister and I thought of quite a few ways we could remember Grandma today. Here is a short list:
Watch Bonanza (she loved it)
Change the bed (she did this A LOT and recorded it each time in her diary)
Read something written by Billy Graham
Put a big rubber band around a well loved book (Grandma liked to use them for keeping her books closed)
Make a pie, a cake, or cookies
Make a soap ball
Write in your diary
Write a letter
Notice the weather (she recorded the weather almost every day)
Record how much money you spent today (I didn't spend any)
Play Yahtzee (she loved to play this with us when we were little girls)
Think about your hair
Take a bath and go to bed 💓🙂🙂
(This is the church where she met Jesus and was confirmed and baptized at age 47)
My little grandmother had some hardships. The biggest tragedy occurred when her husband died. She had only been married fourteen years and had three children at home. She possessed a little bit of life insurance and some war bonds, but she did not work so finances remained very tight for her entire life. She managed to live on Social Security and her savings. My mom thinks she still had a kernel of savings when she died in a nursing home at eighty-four. She was VERY frugal and she appreciated everything she was given.
When I was a child Grandma was a fixture in our lives. She didn't share her feelings much or give my mother suggestions, so sometimes I forgot that she cared about everything occurring in the lives of her children and grandchildren. Reading her daily diaries allows me to know her and understand her.
I looked through all the diaries I have and opened to July 9 (her birthday) in each one. Her life was beautifully ordinary. She wasn't looking to stand out in a crowd or "succeed" in the way that brings one kudos. She simply did her work at home, paid attention to her kids and grandkids, read her Bible, watched soap operas 😉 and tended to her personal business. Here are a few things she did over the years on the day of her birthday:
1935: hung clothes on the line, received a vegetable grater, measuring spoons, and a toaster (from her hubby), made her own cake, went for a ride and got a flat tire
1936: It rained. She received a big box of candy from her husband
1937: baked her own cake and made ice cream, husband had a fender bender
1938: a hot day, made a cake and cookies, hubby was away visiting his hospitalized father
1939: a hot day, mother-in-law visited
1940: baked pies, hubby forgot birthday
Her husband died in 1943 so there aren't diaries (or they are lost) for a few years.
1950: 48th birthday, my mom (her oldest daughter) made a nice dinner for her (at our house) and baked a cake
Here there is another gap (I think she had a serious stroke)
1964: polished her nails, my mom and sister and I visited (I was six years old), she came to our house for dinner, she received a gift of yarn to knit a rose colored sweater 😊 and my mother helped her wind the skeins. She stayed up until 11:30 knitting.
1965: 63 years old, received a card and three dollars (wondered what she might buy), my younger sister and I came with Mother bearing a bakery cake, she received a toaster, my paternal grandparents came by for cake and brought Grandma Evelyn a pink hat (love that!)
1966: 64 years old, washed sheets, spent five dollars at the grocery store (oh me!), Mother and Karol and I brought a cake and a gift (a camp chair), my brothers came later and mowed her lawn, my dad finished the lawn, my older sister spent the night (sleep overs!) and they stayed up past 11:00 pm watching a movie.
1967: 65 years old, kids (my three older sibs) picked strawberries, my dad gave her a ride to church, she received beautiful yellow towels from my auntie and ten dollars from my mom, her feet hurt
1968: 66 years old, washed and hung clothes on the line, watered the flowers, we brought cake, my older sister brought her friends over to eat cake (at this time she lived across the street from the elementary school and the high school in our town)
1969: 67 years old
"Well, I don't FEEL any older!"
washed windows, ordered a pair of shoes, enjoyed a ham dinner at our house (she LOVED ham dinners), went to see Peter Pan!
1970: 68 years old, cleaned floors, went to the grocery, my mom and a few of us visited, received a blouse and a raincoat
1971: 69 years old, ironed, went to the grocery store, came to our house for dinner, received a photo album
1972: 70 years old! rained, slept until 9, went to church, did three loads of laundry, went to Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor (at this time she had moved in with my auntie) and they played the drums and wished her a happy birthday (how nice!)
1973: 71 years old, mush for breakfast, out to lunch with Auntie's family, ate cake, Auntie cooked roast beef for dinner
1974: 72 years old, went out to lunch in Burlington, went to the fabric store (she was visiting my family)
1975: 73 years old, went to town, had eyeglasses adjusted, ate cake with my paternal grandparents and my brother and his wife, received a blouse, a plant, a book, and some stationery
1976: 74 years old, dined at Country Kitchen (she had moved in with our family now), ate cake and ice cream, received body lotion, bath crystals, a red sweater, and a calorie counting book (oh, brother!)
1977: 75 years old! bought hearing aid batteries, ate cake, had salmon for dinner, the girls (us) did the dishes
1978: 76 years old, went out to breakfast, there was a bbq at church, received lotion and a "house coat"
After it became to difficult for her to stay at our house (my youngest sister was leaving for college and my parents were extremely busy with a political campaign) she went to a home care residence for a while (nice people).
The last diary I have was the recording of years she lived in a nursing home. She still wrote daily.
On her 80th birthday she combed out her hair (she had been a beautician before she married and she cared about her hair), they placed a Happy BIRTHDAY sign on her room door and she appreciated it.
Dear little grandmother. I am so thankful that she took the time to document her days. She and my auntie stood up with me when I was baptized as an infant and I believe that was a very holy moment that God smiled down upon. I know He smiled down on Grandma and cheered for her as she soldiered on even when things weren't happy. She had courage. My mom says that she was a VERY good mother, always there to tend to her chicks, nurture them when they had sore throats or measles, plan their birthdays, sew their clothes, and cook healthy meals. She loved being a mother and her oldest daughter (my sweet mother) grew up to be strong, helpful, responsible, and tough. My uncle (her second child) grew up to be hardworking, extremely successful, and fun loving. Her youngest (Auntie) was just two years old when her daddy died. Grandma cherished Auntie and prayed and prayed for her. She is a lovely person, too. She is strong and giving. Isn't it an accomplishment that registers in heaven, raising up three good souls?
Well, you didn't have to read this far, so if you did, God bless you.
If you record your daily doings maybe one of your grandchildren will someday savor your words the way I savor my grandmother's diaries.
Happy birthday, Grandma.