Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ruth Lydia Craley- 12/17/1919-05/06/2009

I have quite a few pictures of my grandparents, but this one is my favorite.
I don't know where it was taken; something tells me in their back yard but it could have been someone else's.
I like to think it was a Saturday afternoon. And not necessarily a special occasion, because my grandmother dressed like that all the time. For any reason, or no reason. Elegant, refined, coordinated. I didn't appreciate this during my scuffed sneakers and grass stained jean years, my flashlight tag and fort building years. Advice like: A dress only looks as nice as what you wear under it. (And what she wore under hers would garner a nod of approval from the Department of Homeland Security.) Or her desire to buy me white things. (A disaster waiting to happen.) She told me the world was a better place when ladies wore gloves and men wore hats. (I'd remind her about polio, and fallout shelters, and duck and cover drills.) I endured disapproving appraisals of my many haircuts. I resisted ironing things. I resisted 'rising and shining'. (She'd CLAP when she woke us up, too. AAARGH!)

Its funny how your grandparents, your parents, get more right as you get older. When I was considering quitting a job because someone there had it in for me, her advice was 'Be above reproach and outlast her.' My rival left three months later; I stayed for twelve years. When I had chosen the wrong college major, she knew it. When I struggled with my personal demons, she knew it. When I resisted all the colors I looked best in, she knew it. She knew what they should be. I was thirty years old before I realized she was right on that one. She and I didn't always agree but I knew two things; she wanted me to be true to myself, and she loved all of us fiercely.

At Christmas we decorated the place she would only briefly return to, hopefully, my dad and I laughing that the two least decorator-able family members were dispatched for the task. We did our best. I sat in her cozy apartment by myself for a long time trying to imprint the smell of it; soap and clean linens and eucalyptus in a china pitcher by the door. I was suddenly a seven year old sunk in deep comforters at the old house, drifting to sleep by the glow of the radio dial and some dreamily playing orchestra. Safe and warm, the soft Westminster chime of the mantel clock downstairs.

Mom-Mom, there are a thousand memories, and a thousand stories, but it all comes down to this; thank you for loving us and believing in us so much. We will miss you and ache for your loss, but you gave us the strong legs we stand on.

10 comments:

Mrsbear said...

That was beautifully written. I'm sorry for your loss.

jenniferw said...

What a fantastic picture, and a heartrendingly poignant reminiscence. I dress that way too ... hats, heels, perfume and everything. Learned it from my grandmothers. Thank you for taking the time to share!

Lisa (Jonny's Mommy) said...

Beautifully written is right. I'm glad today was the day I told my blog readers to head over here. I know you are going through a lot of emotions right now and I'm praying for you.

Casey said...

That was beautiful and so was your grandmother. I'm sorry for your loss.

My Gram did the clapping thing too, hilarious! I'm pretty sure I'll use that trick on my kids if they ever start sleeping long enough for me to have to wake THEM up.

Kathy said...

What a lovely tribute. I love looking at old pictures of my parents and grandparents. Men in hats, women in dresses. I feel like such a slob.

I'm sorry about your loss and that Bryan is having a difficult time as well. Maybe some laughs this weekend will help? We hope so!

Jac said...

What a beautiful post to pay tribute.

I'm sorry for your loss! (Losing my grandmother last fall was one of the most difficult things in my life, so I am sending many hugs and thoughts your direction!)

unfinishedrambler said...

My memories of Mom Mom, as y'all called her, are mixed: from staying with her and your Pop Pop for a short time (praise the Lord that it was short), but as I grew to know her, I learned what a wonderful woman she was, despite her eccentricities.

unfinishedrambler said...

Oh, that's me, your husband responding.

Maureen said...

Oh, I am so sorry to read of your loss. But what a wonderful post to remember her by. You are right; all too late do we really appreciate the wisdom of our elders. I am sure our kids will do the same. I hope you can have a good time with Kathy this weekend to take your mind off your loss, if just for a bit. Take care.

Suzy said...

She was a beauty too. I think she was right about gloves on ladies and hats on men, simpler times.

I'm sorry for your loss.