Ah, memories. I am thrilled that this blog can preserve them–I only wish I were more efficient at getting them posted! I’ve always been a bit obsessive when it comes to memories. Even as a kid, I had a strong sense of time’s fleeting nature. Not that I was extraordinarily wise (hehe, those of you who grew up with me are now raising your eyebrows in astonishment)–it was more that I read a lot, and got to listen to wonderful stories from my two grandmas. I remember saving things, and dating them so that I could someday show my progeny a materialized example of my own historical moment (I think there’s a “time-capsule” buried somewhere in our old backyard). This emphasis on time and preserving memories really did come from my grandmas.
Neither of my grandmas are alive anymore, but they both were packed with personality and made sure that us grandkids got a good dose of their history. Mom’s mom, who we called Grandma, had fascinating stories about the Great Depression. It was only in college that I realized the incredible wealth of her memory. It was a huge reality check to study The Grapes of Wrath
and understand that my Grandma lived during that time period. The fact that she spent her infancy in a dresser drawer in a tent on an oil-field labor camp is extremely telling of her place in America’s history.
Her stories about “Daddy” (my Grandma was a major daddy’s girl) bringing home occasional gifts of candy, and her mom’s apple pie and popcorn on Sunday, now stand out as highlights for her childhood. I guess that might be why she was always so good about stocking her drawers with candy bars, and baking four different pies for every Thanksgiving. Kirsten made Grandma’s pies this Thanksgiving, and I know we will all take turns with those recipes.
(This is my Grandma in her glory days–isn’t she a hottie?)
I also got to hear from my Dad’s mom, Granny, about growing up in Leadville, Colorado. Her parents died in the great influenza epidemic when she was just a little girl.
(These are my Great-Grandparents Martin and Anna Blatnick)
Her stories about her favorite brother, Martin, making pancakes with her as kid resonated with my experiences of making “pannacakes” with dad on the weekends. (Side note, my dad’s middle name is Martin). The daughter of Slovenian immigrants, my Granny grew up in a mining town at the highest elevation Colorado can boast. If only I had her memories to write about now…
(Such an epic photo of Granny (Margie Hayes))
The grandma tangent was inspired by a reflection on last Thanksgiving, which would have been the first time my Grandma would meet Cosette. Unfortunately, she was very sick and could not come to dinner, and the next week she died. If that sounds abrupt, its meant to. Even though her health was failing, and her mind was fraught with dementia, Grandma’s death took us all by surprise and made family rally together in remembrance of her.
(This is me and Grandma Shirley)
Obviously, this Thanksgiving is over, but the holidays are not. All of these traditions that we enjoy were started by our predecessors. I want to be thankful for my heritage and enjoy those stories and memories my grandmas left. I wouldn’t be here without them, but their blueprint is also reflected in the things that are important to me. As Matt and I start are own little family, I want to remember those simple, but poignant memories that my grandmas cherished. What stands out to me is that Grandma’s Daddy, and Granny’s brother took time out to make them feel special through gifts and time spent together.
When I look back at my own childhood, in the not too distant past, I can remember several episodes of parents or relatives spending time with me, and I anticipate talking about these moments with my grandchildren someday. For instance, I will always look back to the time when my Mom took me to find out the gender of baby #6, Andrew. I was a pretty ornery brat, but that day that Mom took me away from my brothers and little sister to share in the excitement of an approaching birth was pivotal to my own development as an adolescent. I remember being a tad disappointed that we wouldn’t be having a baby girl, but that despair was appeased by Mom taking me to get frozen yogurt and talking to me like I was someone important. It was a wonderful day, and both my Mom and I reference that as a turning point in my spiritual and emotional state of childhood. Further back, I can remember my Aunt Karee as someone that invested time and energy into cultivating a relationship with a little girl. She would make me and her matching dresses, take me swimming, and let me wear her lip-gloss. I also think about my Dad and the precedent he set when I was very little to bring me home a pig cookie from Smiths Bakery. The pig cookie and orange bubble gum stand out as highlights when “Daddy’s home!” could be heard all throughout our house. I know for my sis, Kirsten, tictacs were a much sought after item from Dad’s pockets. She had a collection, which I must say was pretty impressive, of empty boxes of tictacs. She had at least thirty of them, and I like to think that she copied me and my collecting of perfume bottles, which was a mimetic response to my Granny’s collection of perfume bottles. You see? These little things matter so much to a child. Those tiny moments a parent, grandparent, or aunt can spend with a child will carry a great influence over the years.
I look at the different things that my parents and Matt’s parents are doing for Cosette, and I can almost hear an older Coco commentating on the importance of their roles in her life. I hope I pay attention, and appreciate these pivotal events take place. Its good to think upon those little things that culminate in one’s personal development. There is this continuum passed on throughout generations that gives meaning to pig cookies and lip-gloss.