Today is my paternal grandmother’s 90th birthday. It is hard to fathom the changes she has seen in her life. She is the daughter of Norwegian parents…immigrants into Saskatchewan from North Dakota. When she speaks of their life in the 20’s and 30’s it is hard to imagine the bitter cold of winters with not much wood to heat the house. Harsh summers of drought, wind and dirt. Walking and walking to get to a store or a school. She grew up long before my girls will have to grow up. At 13 or 14 she was running the household chores.
My grandma was a fabulous gardener. One of my favourite memories is visiting her in the summer and sneaking a few raspberries from her bushes while “pretending” to work. Actually, Grandma was hard on us. If we were at her house we were expected to do the chores alongside her. There were rows and rows and rows of vegetables and many bushes of raspberries, pincherries, gooseberries…what am I forgetting? 🙂 Grandma took pride in freezing and canning. She had a different type of jam or jelly every time I visited~ pincherry jelly was her favourite I think. Crabapple jellies, grape jellies, raspberry jam and more. Nothing went to waste and she efficiently managed her kitchen and her household.
Grandma would also whistle while she worked. I remember coming into the porch often and hearing her whistling or singing while working in the kitchen, making beds, scrubbing the bathroom. She is an inspiration. I admit, I do not take on my household chores with the same delight. She is a Proverbs 31 woman.
Grandma also never forgot a birthday. She still doesn’t although she doesn’t phone like she used to~ there’s just too many great grandkids! But she does try to phone her own kids and grandkids. We used to get a card faithfully every year. She marks her calendar and she takes care to note the details of all new births and additions to the family.
These past few years have taken a new turn for my grandparents. Their eyes are dim, their legs are weak. But their minds are sharp! Grandma laments her days on the farm. She misses her life and how it used to be . Sometimes she complains about how hard things were but never once when I was in her home did she ever complain about the work ahead of her. She did it with a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye.
Last night, Grandma called. She’s so silly. She knows we’re having a gathering for her on Saturday and what did she want to know? Who was making the cake?! She wanted to go to Safeway and order one. I laughed. “Oh Grandma” , I said, ” It’s your birthday, you don’t need to worry about the cake, that’s my job.” She told me she just wanted to help me out. And I said, “Okay, then get your apron on and get baking!”. She laughed and said, “Oh, don’t I wish.” Well, she does wish. I’m sure she’d love to be back in her kitchen again, baking up a storm. Kids and grandkids coming in and gobbling up the best food anywhere. And somewhere in the midst, Grandma would be smiling and whistling.