Grandma still lived in the house where she’d raised Mom, my two aunts and three uncles. Grandpa had gone to Heaven when Mom was 11, so now it was just Uncle David and Grandma alone. The two story house had white siding and black shutters and sat way back off the road. There were two sets of railroad tracks that ran alongside the road and the long gravel driveway crossed them as it wound its way to the house. There was an old windmill on one side of the driveway and on the other side lay two cellar doors. As a little girl, it reminded me of Aunt Em and Uncle Henry’s house in The Wizard of Oz—a classic farmhouse.
The cows, pigs and chickens were long gone; all that remained was an old mare, a German Shepherd named April, and the occasional flock of ducks that would land in the pond. On a cool spring day, I begged to go out to feed them. Before I could leave the house, Grandma tied an old scarf on my head and smiled down at me, “You have to wear your babushka so you don’t get an earache.” Grandma was always taking care of everybody else. She made me wait at the top of the rickety cellar stairs while she went down to get the stale bread. I imagined it was quite spooky down there but Grandma was so brave. After a moment, she emerged from the dark basement and we were on our way.
I played dare-devil walking across the slippery rocks that crossed the tiny feeder stream as we made our way down to the pond. When I slipped, I delighted in squishing my red galoshes in the mud. When we were close enough, we threw the pieces of bread to the greedy ducks. They quacked and splashed as they tried to reach the white flecks before the others could steal them away. As we made our way back to the house, Grandma gingerly stepped around the big stones that lined the side of the driveway and laughed, “Angel, you’re getting too big. I’m going to put that stone on your head so you don’t grow any more.”
I didn’t want to stop growing. I had only turned four that winter and I had a lot more growing to do and many more springs with Grandma. I couldn’t know nor understand that soon she wouldn’t be fighting my growth, but instead the growth of something sinister inside of her, something that would steal her from me before I turned five. It was something I would hate and fear the rest of my life: cancer.
* * *
Don’t worry. This blog will not be all memories of my grandmother.
I tell you this story as my first because my memories of Grandma have shaped me into the woman I’ve become in so many ways. When her dad and brothers died (of, I think, tuberculosis), she went to work to help support her family. I think she was 11. It was the middle of the Great Depression. As she grew older, she did everything: working in and out of the home, being a landlord, cooking, sewing, gardening, farming, raising children, loving deeply, and praying always. I have always held her up as a primary role model for my life. But she died so young. She was only 63. She should have lived longer. Cancer should not have stolen her away so young. And so, that has made me want to learn about different causes of cancer and illness and how to try to avoid them so that I can hopefully live a long, healthy life to be there for my children and grandchildren. She was an amazing woman and I wish every day that she was still here for me to ask her questions. But she’s not, and so, I make it a point to remember as much as I can about her and from others who have come before us and weave it in with life in the 21st century. This is where I come from and what I hope to share with you.
Welcome to my blog.
13 thoughts on “Grandma and the Ducks”
Yay, you did it! So much to love in this, but I especially love your grandma telling you she was going to put the stone on your head to keep you from growing. I also love that I learned some new things about you — I didn’t realize that was possible. I will look forward to reading more . . .
Thank you Karen! Your blog http://www.mycrackedcup.wordpress.com has been an inspiration to me. I’m very excited to be joining the blogosphere. 🙂
Your grandma sounds like an amazing lady. Looking forward to many more stories.
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As you know how much I love to write (not) a blog has been creeping into my thoughts. The next step is to come up with a name for it. I’ve been thinking something along the lines of All of my Favorite Things.
If you had a blog, I would follow it…because whether or not you see yourself as a creative writer, you are a very creative person and I would enjoy seeing what you post.
Angel I love it!!!
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So I just read your blog post and at first I laughed at how cute it was and then you said the part about putting a rock on your head…..flood of tears quickly followed. My dear friend, actually she was my husbands aunt who was 12 years older than me, used to say that exact thing to my oldest boy. Vic was 42 when she too died of lung cancer…..we were practically inseparable even for a midnight run to the store. Anyhow, Vic was never able to have children, had a hysterectomy at 20 but she was so wrapped in my kids life. She was at each of their births even. She died when my youngest Sabrina was 2. The year prior to her death she shopped for Christmas with a passion…….she bought Sabrina her very first diamond. Tonight you just made me remember that I don’t want her (Vic) to be a forgotten memory ever……not that I would blog but I really need to be writing some of this stuff down……time flies so fast!! It has been 10 years since she passed away and I still miss her terribly……but I wanted to thank you for giving me that memory of your gma that reminded me of a very special person in my life too!!!
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Thank you so much, Stephanie! That really touched my heart. I want to write a blog that reaches out to people in just this way. You absolutely affirmed that is what I’m doing! It is so important to share our history with our children. Maybe you’ll tell me more about Vic at Octoberfest if you’re going. 🙂
I love it Stoner.
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Love the stories lady! Helps me get to know another piece of what makes you you, and what motivates and inspires you. Keep reaching into history to share these things – it’s what brought you to today, and what has caused all of us to love you 🙂 You have so much “life wisdom” that I know we can all learn from and appreciate from your past as well as your present realities of raising 4 what-I-can-only-assume-are-amazing children. Keep it coming!
That has to rank among the nicest compliments I’ve ever been paid. Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed your time at http://www.downtoearthangel.com 🙂 I would be interested to read your blog sometime, because I have always admired your character and grace and I like knowing you even better as we grow older, wiser and funnier.
i love it !!!!
Thank you, Teresa!