Posted by: 2russ | May 26, 2011

Elegy for a Homemaker

Recuerdos de los Cascade

Memories of life at Grandma’s at the Cascade

Grandma Easter 2009

We watched the Virginia Tech shooting spree massacre, it was April, and Mother said “Oh”!  Turn off that CNN!”

June, July, August, age 92.  Happy 92nd birthday.

September 2010, Saturday afternoon, “Let’s go hear the live Big Band Jazz Band at the Bflat lounge on Douglas Road.  “OK!”

We had fish and sweet potato chips, (not with salt, but with crystallized cinnamon sugar on ‘em), and a “Salad Please!”  It was on her kidney dialysis diet.

October 2010, we’re all of a sudden in the pool at the Cascade.  Grandma, son and daughter-in-law! It’s the late morning; it’s a nice warm day.  Grandma’s got her hat, her sunglasses; she’s down there at Alligator level.  Soon, all of her friends showed up to swim.  The Pool was where Grandma held court.  We stayed in that day for over 1 hour!

Her friends came and went, before We got out.

That night, out on the front porch, we watched the helicopters coming in from the canyon tours at exactly 8:00 P.M.  It was cozy on the porch.  It was her window on the world.  She spoke to and monitored all the traffic in the park.  She noted who walked into or out of the pool and the clubhouse from her vantage point right across the street.  We had 26 plants and a new set of patio furniture on that porch. It was comfortable and beautiful to her.  She loved to grow flowers in the heat on that porch.  Grandma enjoyed the new patio and porch décor, and the new carpeting in the house, too.  She loved looking out at the pool or clubhouse to see the action at 2 in the morning or 4 in the morning.  Whatever!

Remembrances of Grandma on the Island

When Grandma visited us on the Island, we first came across the water, on the ferry, at night.  It was completely calm.  Pitch black.  The drone of the diesel engines.  No lights from the ferry on the water.  I said:  “We’ll be there in 6 minutes.”

“You mean we’ve already left?”“Yes!”  “Well, we’re not moving… are we?”“Yes!”“Well!  I Say!”

Grandma didn’t feel well on the morning of the Lavender Festival.  Her stomach felt “cold” and she had “no legs.”

So, after the festival day, we took her into town.  Late that night I got a phone call from the Doctor at the Walk-in–Clinic saying that the blood test didn’t look good and he’d arrange for us to come in to town in the morning and the cardiologist and the emergency room would take over.

Two stents.

This was July 2006.

Las Vegas 2006 to 2010

Grandma had a lot of sparkle in her eyes.  We had her 90th birthday party.  We were all learning about health and life, good diet, and discipline.

These years, in a way, were like our days, in youth, being raised by our mother.  Only now, it was like being raised all over again.  And we were raising our mother at the same time, in her kidney disease and the management of her health in the disease.

She knew life and love, family and old values, of growing up in Upstate New York, raising kids, working for 30 years for a company, working on a farm, learning piano at age 8 from her relative, caring for Her aging mother who lived to age 86, seeing her children move “out west.”

She followed her kids westward, and finally settled at The Cascade.

One time, as a kid, I remember that we had a two week summer vacation, my parents having only a couple a weeks a year off from their jobs.  Our parents took us up to New England and Canada on trips!

About 8 days into one year’s trip, Mother said to Dad:  “That’s it!  I’ve travelled enough!  Time to go Home!”

And, so, around we went.  Dad turned it around.  And, in a day or two we were back at the home compound, “Little Green.”

What is Home, What is a home?

Home, always home, the comfort of home, Home is where the heart is.  A heart needs a home.  Home, Sweet Home!  Lord, take me Home!  I want to go home!  Home at last, home at last.  Free at last, free at last.

Thank God almighty I’m free at last!


Mother loved to bake; she baked for the entire family for summer events at the lake.  Cakes with fresh raspberry frosting, frosting that is beat until it spins like a thread!  Molasses cookies for us at home, all year long.  Cakes for our Dad – Chocolate ones.  She would bake pies.

Mother loved to garden!  She even pulled weeds for us along our hedge on The Island in 2005.

But back in New York, when I was growing up, she had flower beds of phlox, a garden full of vegetables.  Between the lawns and flowers and the garden, there were 2 and ½ acres.  We had potatoes, tomatoes, corn, melons, cucumbers, and beans. Radishes, onions, carrots, and berries.

I remember on summer nights, our supper would be made of sweet corn, with butter, tomatoes with mayonnaise, cucumbers with vinegar, and potatoes.  Bread and butter- salt and pepper.  All vegetarian.  All fresh.  Sometimes we would simply have , Strawberry Shortcake!

A homemaker like mother also worked nearly 30 years at GE in Syracuse.  What a woman!

She was wife, cook, gardener, mother, daughter, musician, baker, worker, snowplower, neighbor, sister, friend and a love.

A woman is more,

And she was more!

Last year I asked her what she thought happens after life.  She had been foreshadowing her death.  She would say things like I won’t be around by Thanksgiving. Or I won’t be here to see this or that.  We talked about the afterlife, but there were no conclusions.

Before we knew it, she was Homeward Bound.  It was time, to go home…  Home to the free, and she was brave over it.  She was finally free at last!

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