I Remember Grandma Too

By Lorraine Cochrane Mains

 My earliest remembrances of Grandma Clark (Kate Herron) was of being left at her house while my parents went to town. We hoed the garden back of the house and sang "Let a Little Sun Shine In" over and over. She was nearly sixty when I was born, so must have been rather vigorous at sixty-three of sixty-four during the hoeing episode.

She was a robust looking woman who walked with a rocking motion, probably due to rheumatism, or many births attended only by neighboring midwives. She always wore a long gathered apron, white for Sunday, colored for every-day. She had the bluest eyes I have ever seen. She wore her hair parted in the middle and slicked back tight in a small bun.

For the weekly trip to town in winter, she wore a huge fur coat and a fascinator on her head. She heated a soapstone on the back of the stove for her feet and used a fur robe over her knees.

I liked to watch her make bread. Her cookie jar was always filled. Her household seemed well ordered with the meals on time and the work always done.

Sometimes after my Uncle Elmer was married, I helped care for the young cousins, Ivan, Arthur and Inez who lived at her house.

The times I remember best, as a child, were Christmas gatherings and Grandma’s birthday which was celebrated June 11. That was a lovely time of the year. The horses and buggies would arrive about 8:00 o’clock, and a dozen or so cousins would play hide and seek and tag for an hour or so until dark. Once sixty people gathered to celebrate, and frequently thirty or forty would come. Everyone brought food – cakes, pies, pickles, meats, bread and other goodies. Aunt Kate Willett sometimes came from Flint, and she was the farthest away. There would be a big table for children in the kitchen. The place seemed full of grownups, on the porch, in the pantry, in the yard. The men talked crops outdoors for a while. Uncle Frank used to hold me and ask for a kiss, and I liked him.

Grandma would always be surprised by the party or pretended so. Once the "rigs" met at my mother’s and all went in a body.

Finally, the children would get sleepy. We would all gather in the parlor with Aunt Ida Herron or Aunt Myra at the organ and sing hymns. We always ended with "God Be With You Till We Meet Again."

Once when my mother and I attended, and my brothers and father stayed home, we walked home at daybreak. It was the first time I had been out in the dewy dawn.

In December 1918, when I was seventeen and a Senior in High School, my folks bought the Old Farm Home. They moved while I was in town at school. Grandma lived with us the last six months of her life. My Uncle Elmer had died, and his family, of whom she was very fond, had moved away. My three brothers and I were a poor substitute. That year at Christmas time, my first boyfriend gave me a watch. Grandma said if he was rash enough to give it to me, I should keep it. Mother was doubtful, but listened to her, and I kept it. Originally, Grandma had thought my folks were foolish to send me to High School at great sacrifice, that they needed my help, but she was proud of my record.

She was not well that winter, and for comfort kept a pot of tea on the back of the stove constantly. She sat by the fire and rocked and told me the tales I have written of her early life.

That spring she was bedridden a few weeks and died, some said of Bright’s disease, some cancer. She was buried on Easter Sunday, on April 17, 1919, a short time before her seventy-seventh birthday.

It is strange how few things one remembers, except the warmth of personality. At her death family gatherings ceased, and each family became its own entity.

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