Tag Archives: grandma

The Love Link…Happy 100th, Grandma T.!

Yesterday would have been my Grandma Thompson’s 100th birthday…I can’t think of a more appropriate day to do a tribute to her than the hundredth anniversary of International Women’s Day!  I learned so much about life from both my Grandma and my mom (her daughter)!

Martha Alinette Taylor was the third child of five born to Lewis A. Taylor and Marie C. (Auer) Taylor.  She was born March 7, 1911 at home in Marysville, Ohio.  She was called “Martha” as a child, but preferred “Alinette” as an adult (“Alinette” was a combination of her grandmothers’ names: Alice and Annette).  When Grandma was about four, the family moved to her Grandma Taylor’s farm, about 8 miles from Marysville on the Beecher Side Road (her Grandma was Alice Beecher Taylor, a distant cousin of the “famous” Beechers).  The farm was quite a shock for Grandma’s mom (my Mamma), who had grown up with all the modern conveniences in town, and was not accustomed to houses with no running water, no electricity, no furnace, and no indoor plumbing!  The family shared the farmhouse with dozens of rats and mice too! 

Grandma’s dad started on the farm with hogs, but then switched to sheep farming.  He also raised Border Collies specifically to work livestock.  One of his dogs, Rex, was a regular performer at the Ohio State Fair, and got so famous that he was even used in a national film!  Sadly, Rex was killed by a car when he was only 5  years old. 

As a girl in high school, Grandma’s teachers always wanted her to become a teacher, but she had her heart set on office work: when her Dad cleaned out his desk, she’d go through the wastebasket and salvage papers she could play “office” with!  Grandma and her mom were always close…Grandma’s teenaged friends were shocked when she told them she’d ask her mother if they had questions about S-E-X…they wouldn’t think of posing the questions to their own mothers! 

After graduation from high school, Grandma was given two scholarships from local colleges, but her dad didn’t have the money for her to go, and Grandma wasn’t healthy enough to work part-time while she went to school.  She took part of a correspondence course in office work (typing and shorthand), before being offered a secretary/bookkeeper job with the Farm Bureau.  It was September, 1931…the salary was $40 a month.  Grandma took the position, and moved into a room near the office.  Her boss, a “Mr. Bear”, was initially not keen on her being hired, and co-workers told her he tried to get her to quit by piling on the work.  Grandma did it anyway.  She worked there for 3 and 1/2 years, and when she was gone, they hired TWO women to take her place!

When she wasn’t working, Grandma was a bit lonely…she’d heard that her old piano teacher, Jennie Sherwood, had opened a music school in her home nearby, and that Miss Sherwood was staging dramatic productions there.  Grandma took some drama lessons, and it was at one of the shows that she met my Grandad, Lewis C. Thompson…he was the good-looking stage manager!  The two were talking backstage, and Grandad was so absorbed, he missed his cue to open the curtain!  He didn’t ask her out that night, but Grandma noticed that the Floyd’s Dairy milk truck he drove seemed to go by her office a lot during the day…Grandad honked and waved every time.  It was two weeks before he asked her out…it wasn’t long before Grandma’s milkman was “her milkman”!  They used to put notes to each other in the empty milk bottles, and Grandma rigged her bedroom light with a string so that when Grandad went by at 4:30 a.m. and honked, she’s turn the light on and off in response.

Grandma and Grandad were married on September 21, 1934 in an evening ceremony at her family’s farm…it was an intimate affair…her parents couldn’t afford a big wedding!  The couple went on to have four daughters: Geraldine (Jerry) in 1935, Dorothy (Dottie – my mom) in 1939, Judy in 1942, and Connie in 1954 (she was a happy surprise!).  Both worked full-time for many years: Grandma became the accountant at Mary Rutan Hospital in Bellefontaine, and then the Comptroller at Carter Steel.  Grandad ran a filling station, drove a Columbus city bus, managed the Holland Theatre in Bellefontaine, and then worked in management for Super Food Services (a grocery wholesaler).

Grandad and Grandma in 1935...that baby bump is my Aunt Jerry!

In the early 1970’s, Grandma was forced to retire due to ill health: osteoarthritis was causing her spine to disintegrate, and she also had other health conditions.  Despite multiple hospitalizations and being in chronic pain, Grandma simply found something else to do.  She started to volunteer at her church visiting shut-ins.  After a year, she was asked to be chair of the “Love Link.”  In 1976, Grandma introduced a phone element to the program, calling shut-ins every couple of weeks just to let them know their church still cared about them.  By this time, she was doing her work from her “office,” a mattress on the floor of the living room where Grandma spent her days.  In addition to building a special typing table on wheels so Grandma could type lying down, Grandad rigged up a station wagon with a mattress in the back, and took Grandma to visit her shut-ins…she would lie on their couch and talk to them for a few minutes.  When she wasn’t “running the roads”, Grandma would recycle used greeting cards given to her by friends and family to make notes and cards for her people…she also made Christmas tags and post cards from used Christmas cards for sale at the church’s winter bazaar.  She gives my Grandad due credit in a piece she wrote encouraging fellow church members to “Get Involved”:
“All this is made possible by my wonderful husband who is chief cook, and bottle washer, besides running all my errands and chauffeuring, etc.”
When I was a young child, we would visit Grandma and Grandad on holidays, as we lived two hours away.  At Easter, Grandma would fill a decorated coffee can with candy for each grandchild…the cans had our names on them.  In 1969, our family moved to Canada, 550 miles away from Grandma’s, so our visits with them were reduced to two a year: summer holidays and at Christmas.  One Christmas tradition Grandma did in the 1970’s was called the Grab Bag. All her daughters had young families: after opening the gifts at Christmas time, the grandchildren would go to the Rumpus Room, where there was a big pile of brown paper bags in the middle of the floor.  We would take turns “grabbing” a bag for our family, until they were all gone (it was fair, because all the daughters had a girl and a boy!).  All through the year, Grandma would stock up on paper products, dime store items, and other small essentials that a family could use.  She’d save grocery bags, and before Christmas, pack the items in them and staple them shut (in later years, my cousin Barb and I sometimes got to help her…that was fun).

Grandma and Grandad...late 1970's

My Grandma was only about 4’11” tall due to her spinal disintegration, but she had a lot of energy in her small frame!  She was a big hugger, and loved all of her grandchildren dearly!  We were all devastated when we got the news that Grandma had suffered a heart attack and died on February 15, 1979.  My Grandad followed her a little over five years later, after succumbing to his second bout with cancer. 

My Grandma wasn’t a traditional woman by any means, but she was a wonderful example to all of us!

Happy Birthday, Grandma!

Note: Much of the information for this post came from Grandma’s memoirs, which she wrote for her daughters a couple of years before she died.

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Happy Birthday, Puddin’ Pop!

The phone beside our bed rang.  It was 5:20 a.m. on September 9, 2009.  I roused myself from sleep to answer it…my oldest daughter, Kaylee, was on the other end.  “We’re going to the hospital,” she said.  “I can’t take it any more.”  I promised to meet them there.  The time had come…I was about to become a Gramma (although at 48, I was far too young!).  I did a quick sponge bath, threw on some clothes, and hastily applied enough makeup to avoid trauma for the nurses.  Jim got dressed and stumbled down to the car to drive me to town.  We arrived at the Saint John Regional Hospital about 6, after stopping at the Tim Hortons Drive-Thru to grab tea and a bacon breakfast sandwich.  Jim dropped me at the front door, and headed back home (he had to go to work later).  I boarded the elevator and rode up to the Labour and Delivery Unit.  I explained to the nurse at the desk that I was looking for my daughter, who was in labour…she led me down the corridor to the room where I would spend most of the next 15 hours.

When I arrived, Kaylee was in a lot of pain.  Scott was holding up quite well.  We met the two nurses who would be taking care of Kaylee while she was in labour.  One was about my age…we hit it off immediately.  She was the kind of person I like – a straight-shooter, but with a sense of humour.  She’d been doing obstetrics for more than 20 years.  The other lady was slightly younger, and I somehow missed that she had a hearing problem.  I kept wondering why she seemed to be ignoring me when I spoke to her.  Her colleague explained that she read lips (while she was out of the room on a break).  After that, I made a point of looking at her when I talked…

The first “doctor” who came in to examine Kaylee looked like he should have been wearing a “letter jacket” and holding a basketball rather than a stethoscope.  “Does his mommy know he’s a doctor?” I thought.

After a few hours, the doctors decided it was time to give Kaylee the epidural she wanted (I went “au naturel” for all three of my labours – I couldn’t talk Kaylee into that).  The anethetist was very cute…he was tall, and had prematurely grey hair…I kept hoping he would come back to check on her!

Once the drugs kicked in, I was about as useful as tits on a bull.  I had pictured talking Kaylee through breathing techniques as my labour coaches had with me…none of that was needed here!  I sat down on one of the rather uncomfortable chairs, and wished I’d remembered to bring a book.  The hours crawled by…

Scott’s dad made a brief appearance…it was my first time meeting him.  Nice fella.

Labour progressed, but the baby wasn’t liking the process of travelling down the birth canal very well.  About seven o’clock, it was decided that they would take Kaylee to the operating room, and attempt to use forceps to deliver the baby.  If it didn’t work, they would do a C-section. 

Only one other person was allowed in the operating room…Scott, being the dad, was the logical choice.  He changed out of his street clothes into the operating room scrubs.  Unfortunately, the string on the pants was broken.  He called me from the bathroom with his dilemma.  I asked the nurse for another pair of pants, which she brought.  Scott put on the second pair of pants, and then decided to make a pit stop before going into the operating room.  He had a small accident…he managed to dribble on the baggy pants while he was doing his business.  I flagged down one of the residents, and explained the situation and the need for a third pair of pants.  Scott was standing behind the bathroom door, throughly embarrassed that I had told the doctor all the details.  I told him that when the baby grew up, I was going to tell her that her father was so excited to see her, that he peed his pants!  If looks could kill, I wouldn’t be typing this now!

The medical staff loaded Kaylee on to a stretcher, and I went to the waiting room.  Scott’s mom was there, and we had a great conversation while we were waiting.  I’d never met her before.  Finally about 10:00, Scott came out and told us that Elise Marie Louise Lee had arrived.  She weighed 6 lbs., 12 oz. and had been delivered by forceps at 9 p.m.  (making her birth date 09/09/09 at 9:00 – will never forget that).  I called Jim, and he said he’d come to pick me up.  Then we went back into the room to see Kaylee and our new family member.  Scott’s dad and his wife arrived soon after that.  Jim came, and I met him in the waiting room and brought him in to see the baby.

We all went home…I went to bed right away…it had been a long day! 

Anna took this photo of me and Elise...she was a few days old here...

Today, Elise is a child of few words: cat, puppy and baby are her favourites at the moment.  She is a very happy baby…rarely gives her parents a moment of trouble.  She is quite squirmy, and will not sit still for a story.  Elise is now able to stand on her own, but hasn’t taken that first step yet.

I always said I wouldn’t be the kind of grandmother who forced people to look at endless photos of her grandchild…guess what I carry in my purse: a photo album filled with pictures of “my” baby in case I run into somebody on the street who doesn’t have Facebook!

My Pig-Tailed Puddin' Pop!

Happy Birthday, Puddin’ Pop!  I’m so happy you’re in my life!

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Turkey, Ham, and the Easter Bunny…

When I was small, we went to my Grandma and Grandad Thompson’s in Ohio for Easter.  My brother and I and our four cousins, Sandy, Larry, Barb, and Darin, always got a coffee can full of edible treats.  Each can was personalized, lined with Easter grass,  and hand-decorated by my grandma.  Grandad did all the cooking – a huge ham studded with cloves, mountains of whipped potatoes, and vegetables.  Dessert would be some kind of pie, sometimes peanut butter.  After dinner, my mom and aunts would do the dishes, while the men in the family retired to another room to talk (sleep off the meal!).

Grandma and Grandad Thompson

After we moved to Canada in 1969, we weren’t able to spend Easter with our grandparents, so we had to make our own traditions.  I remember Mom and Dad doing an Easter egg hunt every year for us and our friends  in our yard.  There were times we needed to wear boots for it – depending on the time of year, there was sometimes snow, or deep mud to tramp through.  My dad loved to hide the little chocolate eggs “in plain sight.”  We’d often walk right past them!

Easter Eggs...

We’d also decorate chicken eggs with the PAAS Easter egg decorating kits.  I still remember the smell of the vinegar the little colour tablets had to be dissolved in, and balancing the egg carefully in a spoon to dip it.  The finished product never seemed to look as good as the pictures on the box!

Paas Egg Decorating Kit...

After I had kids of my own, I introduced them to melting crayons to decorate eggs…I still have several egg cartons full of their childhood art.  I continued having an Easter egg hunt every year, but it was usually inside – our Maritime winters are not conducive to outdoor hunts.  Easter in the Maritimes is also different, in that there seems to be a (crazy, in my opinion) tradition of showering kids with all kinds of gifts – my kids always complained about not getting a new bike or new clothes for Easter (each kid would get a chocolate bunny, and the little chocolate eggs from the hunt).  They all survived, though…

This year, Jim wanted turkey for Easter, but the kids wanted ham, so he will cook a Good Friday turkey dinner (I’ve promised to stay out of the kitchen!), and I will make an Easter ham on Sunday for the whole family, including my in-laws (I hope mine is as good as my Grandad’s!).  Maybe Jim’s mom will bring one of her amazing pies.

Baked Ham...

My youngest daughter, Hope, is talking about having an Easter egg hunt, but since discovering the truth about the Easter Bunny (and Santa Claus, and the tooth fairy) this past Christmas, she says SHE wants to hide the Easter eggs…I might just let her…sometimes the Easter Bunny runs out of good places to hide things…

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