5.26.2007

Sibling Assignment # 22: Remembering Grandma West

Our sibling assignment this week was to write about our Grandma West. We did an earlier piece on Grandma Woolum, so this was a request from our mother. Grandma lived in Orofino, Idaho and the family took a vacation trip to visit every year in August. Raymond Pert's is here. Silver Valley Girl's is here.

We didn’t get to see Grandma West as often as Grandma Woolum. In many ways the two were alike. They both raised their families without a husband present most of the time. They were close in age and were both were passionate about gardening, canning, cooking, family, and creating a comfortable home. The two women loved seeing each other. I remember one Christmas when we went to Orofino we took Grandma Woolum. I wished secretly that they would become close friends and see each other more. Because neither of them drove and the distance between Orofino and Spokane at that time seemed to family members like a “real journey” it didn’t happen very often.

Visiting Grandma West’s house was a contrast from our own home. Our home was crowded, noisy, and busy. Grandma’s house was quiet, orderly, and homespun. She always had an afghan on the back of the couch that she had crocheted. Doll clothes, hanger covers, and beautiful pillows were other items she carefully crafted. We shared a common love for the color lavender. It was the color commonly used in her threads and yarns.

Every afternoon while we visited she would come in to rest after working in her garden most of the morning. The house was cool. Grandma would sit in her rocking chair stitching or crocheting another project. I loved that time of the day. I could stretch out and read a book. It was a break from the hot sun outside. Grandma often dozed off a bit. I think I acquired that love for naps from her.

Mom was an excellent cook, but we still had stuff out of the box sometimes. At Grandma’s everything seemed fresh, wholesome, and homemade. Fresh picked raspberries were waiting in a bowl in the morning to go on our cereal. Cream from the Creamery a block away was always in the old refrigerator on the sun porch to pour on top. The family would sit on that sun porch for dinner ( even though it was very hot) and pass around home grown menu items that included a steaming bowl of fresh picked green beans, juicy slices of fresh tomatoes, and corn on the cob that had been picked that morning. Grandma always sliced her corn off the cob because she had false teeth. I wanted false teeth also because I loved to eat my corn just like Grandma did. She would also make pies ahead when it wasn’t so hot and have them waiting in the freezer in the basement. Then some evening for a treat out would come this amazing homemade apple pie and ice cream (also from the Creamery) .


As Grandma tended her garden I saw her exhibit patience, determination, and a love for beauty. As I stood in the sunroom in the morning I had a perfect view of her garden. I was in awe at the rows of brightly colored gladioli. Every time I see a gladiolus to this day I think of Grandma West. I never saw these flowers in Kellogg, but they always grew in Orofino. Grandma and my Autie Lila had blooms in every color. Once a week Grandma would tenderly harvest the glads, bring them in and place them in cool water, then arrange them for the Christian Church across the street and the Methodist Church she attended. She always enough left to place in a special vase that sat on a table by the front door. That table just seemed right for those glads. Grandma had other beautiful flowers, and a productive vegetable plot, but the glads are what I remember. I did discover as I grew older that these beautiful flowers did grow other places. My mom has grown them. I now have them in my garden each year.

Grandma left us in 1990 at the age of ninety-six. Tears streamed down my face at her funeral as I heard these words from the song “In the Garden”.
“And he walks with me

And he talks with me
And he tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known.”

I am blessed to have known Grandma West. I certainly inherited her love for beauty which I have worked to weave into my garden. The fancy needlework will need to be carried on by somebody else, unless I get a sudden change in skill and craft patience!! I see Grandma West’s determination in my own mom when she gardens. She also works outside many hours in the morning sun, but then takes a rest in the cool of the house in the afternoon. Sometimes I think she may sneak in a nap also.

2 comments :

  1. Beautiful tribute - what an amazing woman.

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  2. Thanks, and yes she was!

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