Friday, December 19, 2014

keep your nose to the grindstone

This blog is mostly about shopping, but it's also a small window into my life, and I wouldn't feel right not writing something about my grandma, who passed away the day after Thanksgiving. She would've turned ninety-four this month. I'm grateful to have had such a wonderful grandma in my life and am warmed by many happy memories. In an age of email and electronic bill pay, maintaining a correspondence with her was one of the only reasons I kept buying stamps. It was sweet the way she scoured the newspaper to find my sisters' and my names in high school sports recaps, and she never sent a card without a five-dollar bill taped securely inside. She planted evergreens for each grandchild in her sprawling backyard (it was so fun to measure the height and shape of MY tree against the others) and kept a sizable garden from which she once treated us to a snack of rhubarb dipped in sugar. I remember feeling slightly peeved at receiving something from the ground when fruit roll-ups and Oreos existed, but looking back it makes me smile. At my own house it was Barbie heaven 24/7, but at Grandma's, puzzles were the go-to toy, and we slowly chipped away at the toughest together. When we met at Michael's for family dinners, she greeted my sisters and me with Kit Kats (while my grandpa gave us pennies), and I'll never forget the taste of her chocolate chip cookies, the small glass jar in the kitchen always my first stop. She never learned to drive a car, but enjoyed walking and got around small Chatfield, Minnesota just fine on foot. Holidays were hosted at her home, and there was no feeling of content quite like when night finally fell after food and present opening. My sisters and I would change into our nightgowns and start to fall asleep as loud chatter became quieter conversation. If there's one thing that stands out the most, it's how much she thought of (and worried about) her grandkids. "Keep your nose to the grindstone," was her constant catchphrase, and whenever I assured her of something (good grades, winning a game, getting the job), she would say "Oh, good" and clasp her hands in her lap with such satisfaction. She wanted the best for all nineteen of us, and it meant everything that she was proud of me.

in loving memory Helene Spelhaug

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