May 7, 2011

Sometimes I wonder...

if my paternal grandmother was as much like me as I imagine...
Of all the wonderful women who've influenced my life, Grandma Long was the one I spent the least time with. Every summer we spent about two weeks at "Tumbledowns" (as she called it) in Cashion, Oklahoma. This was the farm where my dad & his brothers grew up.

My grandfather passed away the fall of my sophomore year of high school. Grandma came to Phoenix to live with us for four years until her death. She didn't complain much of the hustle & bustle of our forever-on-the-go household, but there were some days she closed the door to her room for some peace & quiet.  I know now her heart must've been yearning to be back on her verdant 80 acres of birds and flowers, closer to her own Mama & sister.

Grandma's can-do/make-do view of life would've cast a huge shadow over revered Martha Stewart! Grandpa Long was pretty much deaf. Grandma used the method of stomping on the wood floor to get his attention, then would finger spell to him in a sign language she developed. (If I remember correctly, she also used that floor stomp to signal her dislike of something...)

Grandma painted. I remember her huge white wardrobe in the bedroom being covered with morning glory vines. She painted little chairs. (One of my sisters has the chair with an owl, the other has one with roses. This is mine:) 
Grandma sewed. She made her clothing, some of Grandpa's clothes, and lots of little outfits for her granddaughters. She made quilts, too. During the time she lived with us, she would meet regularly with a ladies' group that made quilts and things for the needy. (For many years I used her Kenmore sewing machine. Now it needs a piece they don't make anymore, so it sits on a shelf.)
 Grandma crocheted. She taught me how one summer, but I think all I ever finished was a headband and perhaps one granny square. She made afghans & toys & slippers & neck-warmers... the list is unending...

(please ignore the "unfinished refinishing" dresser -- my 20-year project...)
 Grandma was a "saver". I've inherited some of her scraps. Amongst them I found a bag with all sorts of lace scraps  - mostly handwork from way-back-when. A tatted piece here, a snippet of needle lace there, some dainty crocheted edging... I wonder if she, too, longed for a daughter to pass these things down? A woman with sons, who try as they might, don't see scrap laces for the beautiful things they are. 
 Grandma gardened. Grandma cooked. Grandma preserved, canned & froze. Grandma washed dishes by boiling water drawn with a hand pump. Grandma loved pretty things.

the "seeds" of my cobalt collection

But what I remember most about my dear Grandma Long was that she prayed. My last, sweetest memory before that hospital stay where her life ended, was her singing "Sweet Hour of Prayer." That was her refuge. This incredible woman had suffered a stroke after her fourth son was born. Her second son contracted & survived a bout with polio. Her third son lost an arm in a farming accident. She was married to the most moral athiest I've ever known. She was crippled from rheumatoid arthritis... She sang and she prayed.



  1. For all of Grandma's "frailties", she was perhaps the strongest woman I have ever known.

  2. Beautiful post! Love the special things about her like that she crocheted etc, but most of all that she was a praying lady. xoxo


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