Thinking about my Grandmother

3 02 2012

I was listening to the radio the other day and something they said made me think of my grandmother. Nanny was born in 1910, into a world where most people still used horses for their primary mode of transportation, where disease could carry you away in an instant, where you still washed laundry in tubs over open flames out in the yard, and where you had to use an outhouse to do your business.

By the time I was old enough to understand the world around me, my grandmother was a widow, still working full-time, and living in a tiny little trailer in a trailer park near where we lived. Around 1970 she inherited some money when her parents died and my grandmother’s life took off! She bought a brand new single wide mobile home which was put in a brand new mobile home park, she bought a brand new Dodge Dart, and she retired. She and her friends went all over in that Dodge and she enjoyed decorating her little home, dressing up for church each Sunday, volunteering as a Pink Lady at a local hospital, and cooking, especially for us. She didn’t get her ears pieced until she was 65, and even after she turned 85 she could still get down on the floor with her gret grandchildren and get back up again without any help. She never developed that old people hording problem and her mobile home, and later the apartment she moved into and lived the last 15 or so years of her life, was always neat as a pin and fixed up just so.

My grandmother remembered FDR, women gaining the vote, World War I, the infamous influenza epidemic of 1916, when TV was brand new, what it was like to have small pox, mumps, measles, rubella, chicken pox, and scarlet fever because she had all of them. But she also saw the moon landing. got a microwave, had an ATM card and listened to music on her CD player. It is absolutely mind-boggling to me to contemplate the incredible changes in the world that she lived through.

The only time I ever remember her expressing amazement  at any of these changes what when my daughters were little and going to a babysitter’s house. The sitter’s daughter came down with scarlet fever. The doctor prescribed antibiotics and told the little girl’s parents that she could go back to school after being on the antibiotics for 24 hours. My grandmother was amazed! She remembered scarlet fever being a long drawn out disease that required the entire family be quarantined at home. Friends or family would come and drop food off on the porch and then run away as fast as they could. All of this was required because scarlet fever could kill you or it could result in rheumatic fever which might damage your heart.

After that conversation I decided that I was never going to wish for the “good old days.” The good old days could kill you. I also try to remember my grandmother’s example and embrace the change the world brings. Although I still dread the day I switch to a smart phone….




5 responses

4 02 2012

Lovely post. I was raised by an aunt born in 1910 (she 15 years older than my dad). Your reminder that the good old days weren’t all good is terrific.

I too have not entered the smart phone set yet. I’m ready for the technology but trying to delay the added monthly costs a bit longer.

3 02 2012

Don’t dread the smart phone. I held off for a long time. Now that I have one, I realize how quickly it finds its way into being essential. The complaint I have is that sometimes it becomes like a drug, where I need constant hits of information.

The essay on your grandmother is terrific.

3 02 2012

Thank you!

3 02 2012

So, she lived through the Great Depression. I wonder what she thought of President Hoover.

3 02 2012

You know, she never mentioned Hoover. She did think FDR saved both America and her family.

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