My grandma was born on the 4th of July. There was a time in her early life when I believe she thought all of the hoopla was all a part of her celebration. And although I am largely patriotic and enjoy all of the red, white and blue, I can’t have a fourth of July without thinking about my grandma.
My grandmother was a renaissance woman. And in memory of her this time of year, here’s a little about grandma… Early on in her life, there was no father figure around. And my great-grandmother (GG) took it upon herself to raise and provide for her three children. As soon as my grandmother was able, she also took on the responsibility to help, and she pretty much worked ever since. She wasn’t the type of grandma you imagine standing over the stove, stirring her secret sauce. In fact, she had a reputation for burning everything and GG did most of the cooking. My grandma was different, and perfect. At a young age she would collect left over cobs of corn from a mill to bring food home to her mother and siblings. She worked in a potato chip factory, in Detroit, MI. And she recalled that every once in a while a potato would come down the line at Lay’s that had missed the process, baked and seasoned; she shared, it was a real treat. Later she took a job at Vernor’s in Detroit. Eventually they had enough money and she and GG bought their own house. They were proud to have owned the deed to their own home, and by the time my grandpa came around, she was quite self sufficient.
She gave great beauty tips: Never pull on the skin under your eye, it will give you wrinkles; Brush your hair upside down (over your head) to make your hair grow thick and longer; Tap your nails to make them stronger; Use caution ever putting oil on your face, it makes your pores big… but sometimes you should use a little vitamin E on it. She had great skin. She wore scarves in her hair, which she always died dark brown. She loved to be comfortable. She would cut, move, and tape any shoe, seat belt or shirt to be worn with more ease. She always carried breath mints and gum; which she chewed half of a piece at a time.
When she was upset she would say “Oh beans,” and if she heard something shocking she would say “Good night;” except ‘good’ had two syllables. When she laughed hard she would throw her head back. She was adorable.
She had an amazing garden. It was huge and productive. She canned her own green beans, tomatoes, along with other vegetables and the best grape jelly that I’m sorry you never got to taste. She could eat an onion like an apple. She was into trying to eat your vitamins through food, and taking vitamins… before it was a fad. She had a subscription to Prevention magazine. If she were around today I’m sure she’d be an advocate for eating organic and avoiding GMO’s.
My grandma started every day with black coffee and fell asleep every night listening to tapes of someone reading Bible scriptures. She was extremely devoted to God, and His son, her personal Lord and Savior, Jesus. She sang hymns around the house. She had a big heart, and when her sister was unable to care for her children my grandma raised two nieces and a nephew as well as her own.
Every year on the 4th of July we would celebrate her birthday, and as a child I would ask “How old are you grandma?” And every year her response was the same, “Twenty-nine.”
She would have been 29 today. 😉
Have a happy and safe 4th of July!