Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Woman Like Elizabeth


A whole stack of memories
never equal one little hope.
-Charles M. Schulz

When my Great Grandmother Elizabeth's things were doled out after she left for heaven, I was in the height of my reporting career. As I remember it, the Iraq war was at a fever pitch; it was the week Saddam's statue toppled in Baghdad. CBS wasn't letting anyone off for anything. Participating in the packing of Elizabeth's things was not an option.

It's not as if I was the only, or even a remarkable, great-grandchild anyway. I wasn't local, or a namesake, or the oldest or the baby. So my parents carted home a few odds and ends for me that no one wanted: handsewn table cloths, meticulously cared for and worn with use. Linen napkins, mismatched, in odd numbers, and handmade. And odd sets of flatware, tarnished and incomplete.

I love them.

It's such a shame, isn't it, that we only know our grand and great-grandparents when we're young. If then. There are a million questions I'd like to ask Elizabeth now. There are a thousand things I'd like to learn from her. Things such as, How do you make your caramel pie? How'd you get your garden tomatoes so big? How do you sew on a treadle machine? What's the secret to your chicken and dumplings? How'd you keep such an unwavering faith through loss and war? Will you teach me to quilt?

Is it strange that I feel her absence more today than I did a decade ago?

Today, I flip through my stack of memories and momentos from her honest and handmade life, and hold onto my one little hope: that oneday I grow up to be a woman like Elizabeth.

11 comments:

Donna said...

You are so right. We need to know these people when we are old enough to appreciate them and learn from them.
My grandmother on my mom's side tatted. I so want to learn to tat. And I am sure someone could teach me, but while we tatted I could learn so much from her. She died when I was 26, too busy with work and raising a 5 year old. Now I am 50. I have time to learn and to listen.

Athena said...

So true. I wish I lived much closer to my Gran so she could teach me how to sew lovely handmade dresses and make quilts.

The better care we take of ourselves the longer we will live to be there for our grandkids and great grand kids! I'm almost 30 and my Gran is still completely independent at 85!

Sue@CountryPleasures said...

I got the message, it's never too late and I hope to pass my talents onto my grand daughters!

Elenka said...

'Knowing' you, you will end up like her....if you want to.

Bee said...

Beautiful.

samantha said...

I thought of my grandmother this weekend too. I always think of her but there are times when I remember
something about her and it's like she's so close...

Shelley in SC said...

Hmmmm, I miss my Grandma! She didn't pass on silverware, but her love of adventure and heart for others are never far from me!

Anonymous said...

There are so many things I could of learned from my paternal grandmother but we lived so far apart and I never had the opportunity. She sewed, quilted, had beautiful flower gardens and vegetable gardens. She canned and was an excellent cook. She raised chickens and well she did it all.
Victoria

Vee said...

You are well on your way to doing that very thing. It is sad that we don't know our family as well as we might think. The good news is that we can change that.

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I was born when my parents were older so I never knew my grandparents. However, I have thought of my maternal grandmother quite often since my mother thought she was wonderful.

I know she was a Christian so I know I'll meet her someday. My mother had turned her back on the Lord for many, many years and I have often wondered if it were my grandmother's prayers that brought me to Him. :)

Rebecca said...

So true, Brin. I count myself blessed and thankful to have a few of my grandmother's things. I was a very young woman when she passed, and didn't think to ask for anything specific. Luckily there were a few things she specifically wanted me to have and a few things my dad got for us. But often I do regret not writing down recipes from some of those loved ones now in heaven, for the dishes I loved and remember.