Sunday, July 9, 2017

Grandmother's Birthday

(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)

 (This is the house she lived in later with my great granny and my auntie until Auntie got married).  We had fun playing on the stairs in this house.

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. 


Jeanie said...

What a wonderful tribute. And what treasure to have the written documentation. I'd give anything to have more of that than I do. Reading this just makes me smile with all the love.

elizabeth said...

I loved this so much!!!!♡♡♡ God bless her family!

Julia said...

It was really nice to read these entries of your grandmother's diary.
Thanks for sharing this treasure with us. Certainly a priceless family keepsake.
Hugs, Julia

Debi said...

I love that you have your Grandmother's diaries. So interesting to see how life was in the "old days". I live about an hour from Burlington... what a small world we live in!

Kit said...

Oh what a delight this was to read! Made me think about my own Grammy. I just love that you have her journals and appreciate and love them so much. Thanks for stirring my memories Pom. :) Kit

Julie said...

I just loved reading all this thank you Pom Pom !!! How wonderful you have her diaries to read & that she actually wrote in them!! Unlike me who starts the year & gets to half way through January & gives up :-) She sounded like a simple soul who was happy with her lot & didnt expect great big extravagant gifts on her birthday.

Amy at love made my home said...

What a wonderful way to celebrate your Grandma! It made me chuckle that she received toasters as birthday presents twice and seemed happy both times, nowadays that would not thrill us at all would it! She was obviously a lovely lady. Glad you are remembering her today!

Left-Handed Housewife said...

I love reading other people's diaries and am jealous that you have your grandmother's! I was telling someone the other day about the six months I kept a daybook in which I recorded what we ate and what we did; no emotional stuff, just the facts. At some point I'll probably burn the various journals I've kept over the years, but I would never burn that daybook. It's much too interesting (and much more interesting than my trials and tribulations)!


Elizabethd said...

She sounds such a lovely lady. How nice that you have so much of her in her diaries.

Farm Girl said...

What a wonderful way to remember. I loved reading what she did on each of her birthdays. I hope you all have a wonderful day celebrating a life well lived.
She sounds like a very nice person. I am glad you have all of these wonderful memories and her diaries.
I wish I had some of my families. Its hot here and I have jury duty this week. :( I won't take anything sharp. I need to remember my pocket knife and take it out of my purse. :)

Beca said...

My grandmother loved soap operas too. :) I think it's wonderful that you have her diaries to cherish and draw encouragement from. It was thoughtful of her to make a note of her daily life. You can learn so much from knowing someone's thoughts. This was a lovely post. I enjoyed reading about her.
xx Beca

GretchenJoanna said...

Oh my goodness!!! I love your granny for keeping a diary - it makes me cry, to be able to share in her daily life and read about the rain, the cakes, the laundry and everything, because she knew these details were important somehow, and YOU know it too, and shared with us. Thank you so much, dear PomPom.

I have been keeping journals for most of my adult life, and I often wonder if anyone will read them when I am gone. There aren't very many people like you who can slow down enough to do such things, and the younger generations seem even less able to slow down.

Just this morning I was reading some family-historical notes I had taken from conversations with my father. I wish that someone in my family had kept a diary - all I have is a few entries over a two-year period from my great-grandmother, and I cherish that little book and may share from it sometime, thanks to your good example.

Kristi Burns said...

Thanks for sharing this. I remember how thrilled Evelyn was when you were born. Of all the kids you looked the most like her. I am surprised at how young she really was when she lived across from the high school. To me she always seemed old. She made the best carrot and celery sticks of anyone I have ever know....small trivia. She always cut them up perfectly. She had pretty little hands and her feet hurt because she had bad bunions. Her eyes bothered her and after we moved to the Country Club house she had to go to the eye doctor quite a bit in Bellingham. She had cataracts. She almost always wore a house dress and I played cards with Grandma Cole and her a lot when I was at their house. They taught me how to play Canasta adn now we have taught Elijah and Reese how to play. In the little Anacortes house they had their groceries delivered to their back door. They had a really little back yard with a close line. When she moved in to live with us I watched her soaps with her. She had a period of time when she folded bulletins with a group of ladies at Burlington Lutheran Church. She really had very few possessions. I do remember the rubber bands around books and when Mom and I went through her things after she passed she still had a collection of rubber bands. She and Grandma Cole argued a lot but they managed to live somewhat peacefully. She was a good Mom and Grandma.

Granny Marigold said...

How very fortunate you are that you have your granny's diaries. I too wonder if anyone will read mine when I'm gone but it doesn't matter. I keep them for my own pleasure. But I wish my grandma had kept some form of diary because she had a hard but very interesting life. She immigrated from Russia in a time of much upheaval politically. Also her hussband ( my grandfather) was not an easy person PLUS she had 10 children!!!

happyone said...

Wow how nice that you have her diaries. She sounds like a special lady.
Many times I've though about shredding all my diaries but maybe I should keep saving them.

ellen b. said...

Sweet post honoring your grandmother. She really was frugal and knew how to appreciate the simple things.

Mary@mydogsmygardenandmary said...

Beautiful post. Your grandmother was amazing. Thank so much for sharing this beautiful post.

Have a great week.


Jennifer Hays said...

You know, Karen, I think this is one of the most fascinating posts I've read on any blog, ever. I'm serious. This diary is such a treasure! I'm so glad to see how much you appreciate it. I think it really brings you a lot of joy. And most importantly, it brings your grandmother to life for you, as she was in her everyday life. That is the most interesting stuff to me, I really can't get enough of knowing how regular people do things in their everyday lives. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

Attic Clutter said...

wow she wanted to succeed ..what a beautiful tribute to her..
big hugs,Patty

Lisa Richards said...

It fills me with wonder that your Granny managed to raise three children with such limited resources. I'm so glad she managed to stay home and give them that security. I love the picture of the little house with the white picket fence. That little front yard is so overflowing with greenery! It's good to know that you are cherishing her memory and reading her diaries. I hope my children will read my journal. There will probably only be one, but I'm trying to fill it with eternal thoughts that will be a blessing. We introverts don't always put our feelings into audible words, but I'm trying to get better at that so my dear children know how much they're cherished and how proud I am of them. Thanks for remembering your granny! We all need to make a big deal of our families! :)

Lisa Richards said...

It just struck me that our blogs are really our diaries, though I do keep a written one occasionally. I wonder what will become of these blogs. I've written the URLS for both of my blogs in my written journal so my kids can look at them if they feel the urge, but will they even still be there to look at years from now? I think written journals will be a much more reliable source of info many years from now. Cyberspace is so fickle. I also loved how her husband remembered her birthdays each year; at least as well as circumstances allowed. She sounds like a quiet person, but I'm glad you recognized how much she loved her family. Still waters run deep!

Happy@Home said...

What a lovely tribute to your dear Grandmother.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading her diary entries. Made me yearn for those simpler times. She sounds like a very kind lady. How nice to have her diaries to remember her by.

Maggie said...

Happy Birthday, Grandma! Loved your post Pom Pom and this glimpse into your sweet Grandma's life. She deserves to have her own special day indeed!

Kim said...

Such sweet daily journalling of your Grandma Evelyn. Fascinating reading of the everyday happenings in your granny's life. I hope you and your sisters enjoyed your granny's special day and the sweet remembrances. Just a little the sweet little house in the first photo.

Marilyn @ MountainTopSpice said...

Wow. Wow. Wow!! This is an amazing post PomPom! Amazing that your grandma kept a diary for so many years, and that you were able to take the time and type out what she did for decades on her birthday, that is just beyond fascinating to me! Bless her heart for living a simple life, loving, giving, living simply and frugally. What a treasure you have in your hands to have her diary! I wonder if she ever thought anyone would read them? I remember my mom had a diary for a few years where she wrote about the weather and little details of life in them. I have no idea if she still has them. I am going to think about doing this. I live a simple life but maybe it would be interesting to look back years later and see what life held in store for me. A really awesome post... may your tribute to your Grandma bring smiles to all your hearts :)

Gumbo Lily said...

I read to the end. It interests me greatly and I love it that her very simple life was important enough to her to record a little bit daily. Likely there were other things that didn't get put down on paper, but it shows how much she valued her life and the people in it. I had a birthday the day after your grandma's and I did some very simple things that I recorded. I'm not sure anyone will look at my journals, but if they do, I hope they know how much I cherished the life that God gave me.

Thank you for sharing this with us, Karen. Beautiful.

M.K. said...

That was a very sweet read. She sounds like a lovely lady, and devoted to her family. That reaps great rewards for many generations!

Lynn said...

I loved reading this ☺

Mary Lou said...

This is soo sweet! Happy Birthday Evelyn!

Marcie said...

What a beautiful connection you are able to maintain with your Grandma through her diaries. Isn't it nice to be able to glimpse her daily life? I find that so much more meaningful than recordings of "daring deeds" and etc. Thank you so much for sharing so much detail here. I just love this post.

Wood Fairy said...

It was lovely to read this. I don't keeps diary but can see how it could make an impact. Your granny seems to have enjoyed the simplest things and to have had a true gratitude attitude! Thanks for sharing, betty

Kezzie said...

This touches my heart so much . Grandmas are so special, aren't they. She sounds a wonderful inspiration and I love your honouring her. Reading what she did at different times was lovely. I wish I knew more about my Grandma's life.