My grandma is such a cute, sweet lady. I really wish that I knew her better.

She raised her nine children in the same 3 bedroom home that my grandpa grew up in. I don’t know how my mom and her siblings survived being in such tight quarters. I do know in the summers they would pull beds out in the yard to sleep at night and in case you are wondering, yes, they did grow up on a farm.

When my family would visit my grandparents in the winter, we would have to schedule a time that no other families would be there.  There were eight in our family and we took up all the space in their living room. Needless to say, we tried to visit more during warm weather so we could wander in and out of the tiny house. Unfortunately, this really limited our visits and I never got to talk with them one on one at all. There were always so many people coming and going…

Though it was cramped, I loved that little house. I remember helping my aunts re-decorate my grandma’s room. My sister and I discovered a stained glass window above a doorway that someone had painted over many years ago. I don’t think my mom or any of her siblings even knew it existed. We spent an entire day scraping off layers and layers of white house paint to reveal a beautiful window of multicolored glass, crafted into a simple floral design. 

My grandpa never wanted a new home. He was very stubborn and didn’t think there was anything wrong with the 1800 sq. foot, century old home. I agreed with him when I was younger. I loved that you went downhill when you walked into the kitchen. I loved that the glass in the windows was so old that it was thicker at the bottom than the top. I loved looking out the dormer window in the attic and seeing their garden and overgrown catalpa trees. The leaves of these trees were so large that my sisters and I would wrap them around our feet to make ‘elf’ shoes.

After I married and had a house of my own, I could understand why my grandma was trying to persuade her husband to sell the apple orchard and build a new home. No dishwasher, no room for cooking let alone entertaining, the washer and dryer in a little lean-to off the kitchen, the outdoor underground cellar…ya, I would be ready for a change. I think Grandpa was honestly too tired to want to move. He was 18 years older than my grandma and I think that this was part of the reason for his grumpiness too. This is the same grandpa I was talking about in this post that made me think I was adopted.

Over the last 10 years my grandparents slowly started selling off pieces of their farm to developers, and my grandma secretly saved a lot for herself for a time when she would be alone again. She built a cute little house on a corner, overlooking her old property. There are now 4 houses on the acre where the little white house sat. It was heartbreaking to walk through the old home while it was completely empty. The new property owners were very gracious and let my mom’s family take any old windows, doorknobs and other antique items they may have wanted before it was demolished.

Ironically, the year after my grandma moved into her new home, she developed Alzheimer’s disease. She was now in a house double the size of her old one with modern conveniences, and she could barely remember how to use a microwave. Now that I had more chances to visit her with my own young family, she didn’t really know who I was. I wish that I would have made more of an effort to drive the hour to see her on my own and hear all of her stories before I got so preoccupied. I guess when you are young you tend to think you have all the time in the world.

My grandma was here last month visiting from Utah and we got to spend some quality time together. She still insists on putting her lipstick on before I take her picture which totally reminds me of when I was young. She will sit and read to my kids even though she doesn’t quite remember who they are. Her condition is getting worse everyday but she is just as pleasant and sweet as ever. My mom says she’s a lot nicer than she was when she lived with her, but with nine kids I don’t think I would have been so nice either.

I insisted on taking my grandma to the Phoenix Zoo because my kids and I can’t get enough of it. This is the place I take most of my out of town guests. It really is a beautiful zoo and we discover something new every-time we go. We met my grandma, my mom and my aunt in front of the zoo on a gorgeous Tuesday morning.  As we were walking in the front gate, my grandma grabbed my arm and excitedly told me how happy she was to be here. “After all,” she said, “I’ve never been to a zoo before”.


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5 Responses to Betty

  1. tenacioustimothy says:

    I really love these posts about your relations- so heartfelt and reminds me of my younger days back home and the family that I don’t get to see too often. Thank you!!

  2. kspin says:

    With as much family as I have, you’re practically guaranteed a few more posts like this.

    I really appreciate this comment and I’m glad that I could bring back some memories for you.

  3. Tony - Tauranga - New Zealand says:

    Stumbled across your ‘post’ via a Google search for Underground Cellar.
    Just have to say your musings are delightful, well writ and very entertaining. What a lovely family. You are quite fortunate.
    We live on a small farm in a reasoably remote rural area althought only 30 minutes from a reasonably large city, Tauranga.
    We are also fortunate in our lifestyle, try to maintain old values and enjoy meach day.

    Nice reading your story.


    Tony and Trish

  4. Pingback: Grandma Betty « Kspin’s Weblog

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