NANA’S HOUSE by Teresa Kindred
Grandmothers Then and Now
– For years, my grandmother cooked on a wood stove … year round.
– Now I complain it’s too hot to cook and pick up carry-out pizza.
– My grandmother raised a garden, hoed it, fertilized it, picked the vegetables, and dug the potatoes … then she canned for the winter months and stored the food in the cellar.
– I order grocery pick up from a local store once a week. When I think of it, I go to the farmers’ market and buy produce someone else grew.
– My grandmother worked on her Sunday School lesson all week. I can still see her in her blue bathrobe, sitting on her front porch with her Bible and workbook.
– I go to church, pray and read my Bible, but she spent hours at it every day.
– My grandmother served others her whole life. She took care of anyone who was sick.
– My life is too rushed, and while I care for my husband (who is needing me less and less, thank you, Jesus) I don’t play the caregiver role like she did.
– My grandmother rode in horse-drawn carriages to church and walked to the country store down the road where she traded eggs.
– I live five minutes from the church, have a car, and I’m still late. If I had to walk to the grocery store, I guess we would eat plants and wild berries on the farm.
– My grandmother never knew her mother, who died from the flu epidemic in the early 1900s.
– I was blessed to have my mom for 33 years, but it was so hard to give her up.
– Grandma never complained about loss or her circumstances.
– It took years before I could give thanks for the time I had my mother instead of focusing on my loss. I know my sadness over losing my mother made her aching heart hurt worse, and I’m sorry for that.
– Grandma loved to cook for others and made home cooked meals every day.
– I cook, but not with the joy she did. I love carry-out more and no clean up!
– Grandma washed dishes three times a day.
– I load and run my dishwasher once or twice a day.
Grandmothers Then and Now … and Vanity.
– Grandma’s go-to clothes were house dresses (light house coats) and a few church dresses which she wore over and over.
– I have to clean my closets a minimum of twice a year or there’s no room.
– Grandpa cut and stacked the wood (until he got sick), but Grandma carried it in and kept the wood stove fed.
– I walk through the hall and adjust the heat and air with the push of my finger.
– My grandma didn’t have to go to a fitness center. She worked circles around anyone who knew her. She didn’t have an hourglass figure, never colored her hair, and if getting old bothered her, she never said a word.
– I’ve been to fitness centers (not for long, but I went), I do color my hair and I hate wrinkles. And yes, I do complain. I let society tell me how I should look, and she didn’t. She was always smarter about foolish things like vanity.
– On Saturday mornings I would peep out the window and watch her wring a chicken’s neck or chop it off with a hatchet, then pluck it, cut it up and fry it.
– I can barely stand to touch a chicken and always buy them already cut up.
– My grandma milked cows and churned butter. She’d take a butter knife and make little patterns on top of the butter.
– I couldn’t milk a cow or churn butter without extensive lessons, and truthfully, at this point in my life … why bother?
Grandmothers Then and Now … on Waste.
Grandma’s generation didn’t understand a lot of the things we take for granted. She wanted nothing to do with my computer and asked once what a “dot com” was. She lived through the Great Depression and didn’t understand our “we want it now” mentality, and why, when we’re done with something, we often throw it away.
Wrapping paper was taken off gifts, folded and kept in a drawer. Every speck of food left in a bowl (even a speck so tiny the Whos in Whoville couldn’t see it) was put in an empty butter container and placed in the fridge. (She pinched pennies and wouldn’t dream of spending money on Tupperware.) “Waste not, want not” was one of her favorite sayings.
Grandparents: Pass on These Memories
We all probably have many similar comparisons we could make about things that have changed in the past 50-plus years. As I remember all these things about my grandmother and her generation, probably the saddest thing is that our grandchildren won’t know the things we know … unless we tell them. They need to know about grandmothers then and now. We can only imagine how things will change in the next 100 years.
Write on the back of photographs if you are lucky enough to have them. Write stories about your grandmother’s childhood and what you learned from her. Your children and grandchildren will value it one day.
One more thing about my grandmother …
She loved all her children and grandchildren unconditionally and without showing favoritism. She was one amazing grandma and I miss her dearly. (Nettie Lee DeMumbrum – 1913-2002.)
Teresa Kindred is a freelance writer, former teacher, and author of several books, including The Faith-Filled Grandmother. She’s the mom of five grown children and “Nana” to seven precious grandchildren. She and her husband live in Kentucky. Her blog for grandparents is at NanaHood.com.