Born just two months before the stock market crash that kicked off the great depression, my grandma was one tough cookie. She graduated high school, got married, and had my mom right away. By the time she was in her mid-twenties, in the 1950s, she had three little girls and her husband left. Gone. She met and married the incredible man who was my granddad. He brought to the marriage and family four kids of his own. Suddenly, my grandma was raising seven kids. Later, they had two more of their own kids. That's nine, if you're counting. One bathroom in the whole house, by the way. Yeah, I know. Oh, and all those kids didn't even include the ones in the neighborhood she took in when they needed help.
She cooked, cleaned, mended clothes, knitted blankets, packed lunches, counseled, loved and made sure each child knew they were special. I'm not totally sure, but I think there are something like 50+ grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I'm fairly certain that each one thinks he or she was her favorite (shhhh, I really was). She did all those things and still managed to always be an active part of her community. And she looked great doing it. Her hair was always perfect and everything seemed to bring out the color of her gorgeous blue eyes. Blue was her favorite color, by the way. That's also the color of the knitting needles she gave me when she taught me to knit as a teenager. Everything she ever gave me was either handmade or tools to make things myself: sewing kits, yarn and a pattern, she even once sent me a baking dish and a recipe for feather bread rolls. Last week when I made my own jam, I thought of her and the jam she'd make when I was a kid. I'm sure I'll continue to think of her each time I make, sew, knit, or create something from scratch. And with each compliment on my creations, I'll say, "my grandma taught me that."