But when I awoke this morning, I was thinking about my Grandma. She, too, was a writer.
Thankfully, she left copious journals, which my cousin, Duane, and I still have. She began the oldest one in December, 1907, when she left Missouri for Oklahoma along with her father and some of her siblings, as well as a cousin, in a horse-drawn wagon. They were on the road for six weeks. She wrote daily for more than a year, giving details about camping, moving into a recently vacated hut, building a shack to live in, their animals, the people she met, and her fondness for her brother Roy, who was a young man "on the hoof." She included daily weather reports, and accounts of the mail they received from family back in Missouri.
All of this is penciled into a thick little notebook that says "Memorandum" on the front. She even added a few tiny drawings. And the script is as clear as if she'd written it this morning. Grandma had some odd recording habits, too. When she dated the pages at the top, she penciled the year as 19, 07. Or 19, 08. She usually wrote the time down as "4 o'clock & 30 min. p.m." When she came to the end of the line, if there wasn't room to finish the word, she simply added a dash and picked up on the next line, just like th-
In her later journals, Grandma showed her feelings. She wrote about her love for Grandpa, and for her children. She wrote about the anguish of losing her two-year-old daughter, Ruth, to diphtheria. She wrote about loneliness and poverty, her love of nature, and attachment to her animals.
I felt very close to Grandma, as did my cousin Duane. We've compared notes a lot, and realize that we have a similar connection to her, even though I was her favorite. ;)
And then there's my other grandma, the more difficult one for me. Mary Alice was my mother's mother, a much more chaotic woman. That's all I'll say about her, for now. But you can learn more about both of them here:
Ruby and Jewel
Jewel divorced the husband of her youth, whose cruelty and infidelity she could no longer abide. Ruby stayed with hers for more than fifty years, but wrote in a slim diary of carrying the torch for “X” . . . he’d promised her “things will work out.”
Ruby lived largely outdoors. She studied sunrises and seasons, and the night sky’s constellations. She walked long distances, and knew the ways of trees, wildlife and weather. She cherished her flower garden—planted, pruned and plucked it with diligent care—and grieved its passing with each cruel first frost. While Ruby delved into seed catalogs, Jewel savored cookbooks and recipes.
Jewel lived a mostly indoor life. She filled her days with cooking, cleaning, childcare and chores. Following her husband’s departure, Jewel rented rooms to boarders in order to keep a roof over her own head.
Jewel tatted away the afternoon hours, while, not a hundred miles away, Ruby napped each day and read. She read sci-fi and mystery novels, astronomy, and The Ladies Home Journal. Jewel sat for hours in her rocker, smoothing the pages of sacred scripture, often rereading her favorite passage--Let not your heart be troubled. . .”
Jewel attended church with what she considered to be four essentials: her pocketbook, strapped over her forearm and clutched close at her side; a pair of delicate nylon gloves, gathered at the wrists; her beloved Bible, and of course, a hat. She never missed a Sunday service.
Ruby rarely went.
Ruby cared for no one’s opinion but her own—not even God’s. And she didn’t mind saying so. She relished a good argument.
Jewel, on the other hand, couldn’t tolerate differences. She would purse her lips together, and with one look of grim disapproval, a tch, tch, tch, and a shake of her head, end all discussion, present as well as future.
Jewel forever carried on battles with her hearing aid, which she mostly lost. When it complained in high pitched squeals, she took it out, tapped it, adjusted the dial, checked the battery, and tucked it back inside her bra. This, for Jewel, was a way of life. She also battled Parkinson’s and panic attacks. In the midst of isolation and loneliness, hers was a lean abundance.
Ruby carried on her own battles. Her life was filled with letters and photographs, bouquets, books, her chickens and garden, canning, quilting and commodities. There was also Pop’s pipe tobacco and politics and whiskey, and his stubborn, lifelong aversion to work. Hers was an abundant poverty.
To my knowledge, Ruby and Jewel met each other only once. No two women could have been more unalike. And, yet, I am so much like them both. For Ruby’s son married Jewel’s daughter. I called them both Grandma. And they were both precious to me!