Saturday, February 6, 2010

Between the Eternities

“We are all travelers in this world. From the sweet grass to the packing house, birth till death, we travel between the eternities.”   Prentice Ritter from Broken Trail

Thursday, February 4, 2010

An Amazing Woman

This post may seem a little off topic but in reality it is a foundational part of the dream and actualization of the Yonderosa. Please pardon the mixed up rambling.

My heroes are my Grandparents and I was blessed to have all four well into my adult life.  I'm going to share one of them with you in this post.

My Grandmother was born into a hard working family in the southern United States with roots back to the American Revolution.  Her father was a successful businessman and pillar of his community.  Her Grandfather (mother's side) fought in the Civil War.  He was wounded in several battles and ended the War as a POW.  He survived the long walk home across several states once he was released - a harrowing ordeal that isn't commonly reported in the history books.  He later became a Doctor.  Both of these men she greatly admired and loved.  As a girl she rode a horse to school.  They lived in town but had a large lot where they raised chickens and grew a garden.  The home was nice by the standards of the day and her father would walk home for "Dinner" (the main meal - mid day) with his family. 

In her mid teens she met my Grandfather and they married when she was 18.  They literally lived "dirt floor poor" but they were both industrious and quickly improved their situation as they earned better jobs.  My Grandfather had brothers working in the Pacific Northwest and encouraged them to move.  Seeking a better life they borrowed some money, packed up the few belongs they had a set out to start a new life away from their families right in the middle of the Great Depression.  My grandfather quickly found employment and his with ability and leadership skills advanced rapidly.  By the time World War II came to America he was not allowed to enlist or be drafted because of the importance of his job to the war effort.

My Grandmother worked as "Rosie the Riveter" during and after the war.  Her petite size allowed her to access areas in the tail sections which made her valuable to the Boeing company even after enough men returned to fill the positions.

The family continued to prosper  in the years following which allowed them to buy a nice home on a large property that they raised two kids, had horses, a big garden and created a beautiful yard.  They even built a swimming pool that years later I learned to swim in.  The area wasn't so crowded then and they both enjoyed the many nearby outdoor opportunities this area is (was) blessed with.

The 747 project took them north and they found another home where they once again built an amazing garden and yard.  With her kids grown and out of the nest she had more time to pursue other interests - like motorcycles...  How many kids can say that they rode around on the back of their Grandmother's motorcycle?  Not many now and a lot fewer then.  Later she would be the first person in our family to buy a computer...

Our stays with them were always filled with adventures - road trips, fishing, camping, gardening, auto mechanics, woodworking, art, cooking.... were just a small sampling of the activities we were exposed to. 

They had a Yonderosa of their own.  5 acres on a great Steelhead  river.  Steelhead fishing with a fly rod is high church to many anglers and they were enthusiastic members of that congregation.  I was too young to fully appreciate it but the magic of the river, the mountains, the critters and the beauty imprinted deeply upon me.

Grandmas are well known for their cooking abilities and this Grandma was on another level.  It didn't matter what it was, it was good.  Everything from vegetables freshly picked garden to a plain white bread sandwich would be a feast to remember.  Even finicky eaters succumb to her culinary prowess.  A place at her table - whether that was in the dining room, on the tailgate of a truck, on the beach or along a trail is a reward beyond compare.  A Thanksgiving dinner with Grandma would test the limits of self control with the endless sampling of delectable delights.

I have been blessed with many sittings at those tables.  Only in your Grandmother's eyes are you perpetually too skinny.  A little over a decade ago we'd have dinner regularly together and up until recently at least monthly.  Last month I enjoyed another fabulous meal and her company.  Even north of ninety I marveled at her independent and vibrant spirit.

After my Grandfather died my Grandmother remained in her home for a few years.  I lived nearby and was able to help out whenever she needed chores done.  A dislocated hip and subsequent replacement prompted the home's sale a move back into town and closer to son and daughter.  With the proceeds of her home's sale she loaned me the money to build my current home.  That project has paid dividends many times over and made buying the Yonderosa possible - yet another connection to and legacy of her wonderful life.

For my entire life she has been a source of great support, encouragement and sage advice.  Through her I can link back distant generations and history.  She is inspirational though she would never say that about herself.  There is so much more I could write about this amazing woman and could never articulate it well enough to give much more than a glimpse who she really is.  I am proud to be her grandson.

This post allowed me to gather some of the thoughts swirling around in my mind.  Earlier this week my Grandmother had a major stroke.  If she survives it will mean the end of her living independently, something she fears more than anything else.   It tears at my heart, not wanting to let go of her yet knowing that her spirit can not be contained in her broken body.  Much of what I've written I've shared with her in the past yet I am filled with regret of not telling her more.  I hope to get another chance.  It is times like these I realize how blessed I have been and regret taking even a single second for granted.  For fifty years she's been a big part of my life, a constant and seemingly unstoppable.  Accepting this new reality is difficult.  We've put it in God's hands.  Thanks for the prayers, support and a chance to brag about my Grandma.