Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Grandmama Was a GIRL!

Have you ever wondered what your grandmother's life was like when you weren't looking?

Our grandmothers weren't always those gray-haired ladies with genteel manners and kitchens full of food. They were girls, first. Then, they were women.

Growing up, Grandmama was Grandmama. I loved her, rarely said it, showed her respect, tried to learn from her, enjoyed being at my grandparents' home, and was afraid of her wrath even if it was never aimed directly at me. I'd heard the rumors and that was enough for me!

She was a beautiful woman as I remember her. And, she was REALLY a beautiful girl!

I have had the occasion to see a photo of her in her youth! She looked like a movie star. In the 30's and 40's, women, and most men, took great care with their grooming and their 'style'. They wore gorgeous hats with short veils, tasteful if inexpensive jewelry, tailored dresses and suits. The clothing had details like darts, lace trim, piping, sequins, designs and lovely little touches that no one bothers with today.

Yes. I am guilty of romanticizing the period because of all of the old films I study. But, here was this woman from the DEEP South who arrived in Chicago and, apparently, took it by storm.

I've mentioned the story before of her brother showing my grandfather, Pawpaw, her picture and he made up his mind right then to marry her. When she said she would not marry him unless he gave up playing saxophone in a band, he did, willingly, God bless him. Marriage and family came and he still, on his hard (and I mean HARD!) earned money, would bring her treats. They had their own types of "date nights" after they thought all the kids were in bed. They may not have been able to afford the 'extras' we are convinced are necessities, but they always seemed to enjoy each other.

She was devoted to Pawpaw. That's why when I heard this story, I took it for what it was, a savvy girl, our grandmother, providing for her family. My mother casually mentioned the day she realized her mother was flirting with the butcher! My Mom was always in her own world, which is why this is still in her head 60-odd years later. It stood out in her young mind. The butcher would add extra to her purchase because he appreciated this gorgeous woman! I tried to picture our grandmother doing this very 'girly' act and just laughed and laughed. This was not the tough woman we all knew!

Suddenly, Mom's Mom was a woman in her eyes....not just Mama. She was just Mama around all those children! She told me Grandmama became a "woman" around men. I can see that, now.

Meanwhile, she'd married her prince, and had no thoughts of anyone else. I like to think that she, like I do at times, just like to flirt for the practice. We see if we still have it. And then, we take it away with a smile. We know what we have at home. Please.

The loveliest thing about this is that Pawpaw knew what he had in having her for a wife, too. He wouldn't have traded his life for anything. It was such a hard life with a lot of struggles and heavy-duty responsibilities. We would step out and see him sitting, smoking on the back porch...just sitting. Was he reminiscing? Would he have done anything differently? He wasn't a huge talker but really was a deep thinker and could really make you laugh when he did finally speak, and when he danced. He was my first Hero.

He grew even bigger in my eyes the other day when Mom let this little diddy slip.

Pawpaw once told my mother, "You know what I'd like?" Mom being clueless as to where this was going was poised to leap to get whatever it was. You didn't just jump when Pawpaw said jump. You asked, "How high and can I get you anything on the way back down?"

However, on this day, Pawpaw said he would love to see our grandmother walking down a platform, in white.

Mom, ever the sentimental one just said, "Yeah. That'd be nice."

Knowing he had that vision, his vision, of Grandmama in white brought me to tears. As they were never wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, they never had a huge expensive wedding, nor did she, likely, have a wedding gown of her own. Since I don't know about that day, I don't know how the actual wedding was. I'm sure there was family, our great-aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends but surely, nothing lavish, like today.

I just know that it says so much about how he cherished her to think of that after many years and experiences later. It was still on his mind.

He made it to Heaven, first. When she arrived, he must have smiled. His Girl. His vision complete.



  1. What a lovely story of your grandparents and the love they had for each other. It was an interesting perspective too to think that a long time ago your grandmother was a girl. We forget that our parents and grands were young once. I didn't get to know any of my grandparents. My dad's parents were in Poland so never met them. My mom's dad died before I was born and her mom only spoke Polish so there was a language barrier and then we moved when I was 7 years old.


    1. I'm sorry you missed that opportunity! Try reach out to any elders you meet. It's good to look at any elderly person this way. It brings a loving view to anyone, I think, to picture them younger. Then pick their brains! LOL They haven't lived that long and not learned some stuff!


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