Sunday, June 10, 2007

Grandma Love

[I've had this post slogging around in my head for a while now. I wasn't sure whether I should post this or not, but... here goes:]

I hated my grandma. There, I've said it. And I have a hunch the feeling was mutual. My first vivid memory of her was when she slapped me in the face. Mom had left me with her while she went somewhere. I suppose I was pitching a fit - I was only about 4 or 5 years old. She just turned around and slapped me right in the mouth. I never trusted her after that.

As I grew older I discovered she was a bitter, hateful old woman. I have to assume she wasn't always this way. I'm sure as a young woman she was full of hopes and dreams. I know that Grandpa Moss left her for another woman. Perhaps she drove him away, I wouldn't know because he died before I was born. Maybe that's why she was the way she was.

As a grandma today, I find the whole thing very sad and confusing. Grand kids are the reason you don't kill your own kids while growing up. What was even worse, she was the only grandparent I had as my father's parents died right after I was born. I used to envy my playmates and their excitement when visiting their grandparents. I couldn't understand why grandma was never happy to see me and had only harsh words for me. I still can't to this day.

It broke my mother's heart when I expressed my feelings towards her mother. She tried to assure me that Grandma Moss truly did love me, but just didn't show it. She would tell me the story of how, in 1952 when I contracted polio, it was Grandma Moss who drove the car to the hospital in Sioux City when the local hospital couldn't treat me. Of how I almost died in my mother's arms in the backseat of grandma's '52 Ford while grandma careened up Highway 75 in a desperate attempt to get me to help. Today I find the picture of this rather amusing. I remember grandma driving that Ford. 50 mph was her normal speed and she was so short she could barely see over the massive steering wheel. I'm surprised she didn't totally wreck.

Brother Max used to tell an amusing story about grandma, too. When Iowa passed the minimum wage law, it was his responsibility to tell grandma she must pay her help $1.25 an hour. He said she banged her hand on the table and declared, "There ain't a woman in the world worth $1.00 an hour!" That's my grandma - always generous to a fault.

Grandma Moss' sister Della was my "true" grandma and I called her that from the start. I dearly loved that woman. Her husband died, leaving her to raise her five children alone on a dirt farm in the hills. She survived by selling milk and eggs and renting the 40 acres she owned out to a local farmer. She had more than enough love to share with me and I took full advantage of it. Grandma's farm was my haven and her smile lit up my life. I guess I really did have a grandma after all.

Quinten is a lucky boy - he has many sets of grandparents who all love him. That's a nice thing about blended families. He's staying with us this June and our lives are once again full of activity. T-ball, swimming, golf, carnivals and celebrations abound, making the days fly by.

Grandma Moss certainly taught me one thing - how NOT to be a grandma. I'm loving this part of my life. Quinten has taught me that there is nothing else in this world more important than spending time with him. And I'm taking full advantage of that.

21 comments:

Ilva said...

You know, I didn't like my grandma either, she was a nasty piece of work and unfortunately the only one I have ever met. She treated my father badly in many ways but still required his attention, not to talk about my mother but she was a strong woman and let it pass. I think one of the reasons why my father loved my mother so much was because she was the opposite of what his mother was. Sad isn't it?
so you are not alone. and we are allowed to not like them.

Sally said...

Thanks Ilva. It is sad, but who knows what drives a person to be so nasty and bitter. I can only try to keep my life in line and remember what really counts. To let our disappointments get the better of us is a slippery slope to bitterness.

mari said...

What a beautiful and bittersweet post, Sally. I had two grandmothers who couldn't have been more different; my mother's mother was sweet, quiet and never expected a "Thank You" for the things she did; she was my favorite. My father's mother was always angling for a position where we would be forced to say "Thank You" and tell her how great she was. As a kid, being put in that position was horrible because I felt she was campaigning for our affection. (And here's the weird thing: my mother is not what you'd call sweet. And my father was complete sweetness. Go figure!) So, like you, I learned a lot about how not to be. I'm very happy that you enjoy being a grandparent. It sounds like Quinten has a lot of reasons for looking forward to spending time with you. Have a great June together!

Sally said...

Oh, Mari - thank you so much for your comment. Isn't it strange how our grandparents have affected our lives.

Genie said...

Sally, this is a really interesting and thoughtful post. You're right -- there are probably so many layers to how your grandmother felt and to what motivated her that there would be no way to ever peel it all back. But clearly she did leave you with valuable lessons, whether they were positive or not. And I'm so glad you had a substitute who filled that need for the older generation's positive influence in your life. That's so important. Enjoy your June with Quinten!

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

Isn't it sad when we do not receive love from someone that should love us? It leaves scars that never totally heal.

Being a Grandma is a wonderful blessing! I hope my grandsons carry fond memories of me as I know your Quinten will of you!

Thanks for the post.

Mike M said...

It's said that if we can learn a good thing from a bad situation, then that situation was not as bad as it seems.

Sally said...

Genie - I loved Aunt Della so much I named my daughter after her. I miss her still. Thanks for your comment.

Jenny - Life leaves scars. Being a grandma is the best thing in the world! I'm leaving memories - yeah!

Mike M. - Very wise words. And very true. Thanks for your comment.

tammy said...

Wow. So glad you decided to post this. I know some people in my family who became embittered with age and ended up as rotten grandparents. Luckily, I ended up with a good one. I wish you had, too, but Della sounds like a marvelous substitute. Quinten is so lucky to have you.

Sally said...

Oh, Tammy, thank you so much for your comment. You were so lucky with your grandma. That's why I love seeing your Recipe Friday posts - for the stories.

chigiy said...

This is a beautiful post.
I had a wonderful Grandma but my husband used to call his Grandmother Grandmonster.

Sally said...

Grandmonster - hee! Thanks Chigiy that made my day!

sandi @ the whistlestop cafe said...

You did learn the best lesson of all~ how to be the 'greatmother' that you didn't have.
On mothers day I posted about the women in my life. They all leave their mark on our lives. I have been lucky~ sad and lonely, but lucky.

Sally said...

I saw that post Sandi - it was beautiful. Thanks for your comment!

A wildlife gardener said...

Children never forget who was bad to them. I'm glad you have learned not to be like her and are loving to your grandchild.

HAR said...

What a great post. It got me thinking about my own family. Family does not have to mean blood relatives but I guess you know that already.
Keep on being a wonderful Grammy. Quentin is lucky to have you.

Sally said...

Thank you so much for your kind comment HAR. And thanks for visiting my little corner of the world. I like your blog too!

A wildlife gardener said...

You were very kindly complimenting me on my new banner, Sally, and you mentioned that you wmight not be able to do it on yours...so I thought I'd share with you how I did it, because if I can help you, I will :)

Do you have Photosuite? I put three poppy photos into it. Then I joined them together. After that i clicked on Adjust at the top of the page, and Resize at the bottom. I changed the first size to 650. The second size adjusts on its own. Then I clicked File Save as, and put the new resized photo in a folder on the desktop. In Blogger I clicked on Template, and clicked on Edit the Header. Then you can browse to find your photo...and hey presto! It comes up on your webpage.

You may not want to do this, but I wasn't sure if you wanted to or not, so i thought I'd tell you in case you want to at some point in the future.

Best wishes, Sally. WG xxx

Sally said...

Hey W.G. - Thanks for the tip! I don't have Phtosuite, but I wonder if Picassa would work. Thanks again.

Ruth Welter said...

Hi Sally, I was just reading the story of your grandmother...I have to say, I had one I felt the same way about. I hated her too. She was a very nasty , self centered person who cared for nobody but herself. When she came to visit, I remember as a young girl...it would throw my mom into a tail spin, she would hop around for her like she was my grandmother's maid. She used to give me used clothing that was soiled and dirty, and wrap them up as gifts. Argh...I never even liked that woman, never mind loved her.

Sally said...

Hi Ruth - Thanks for stopping by and commenting. It's wierd, but this post has generated the most comments. And the majority feel like you and I do about their grandmothers. Sad, isn't it?