Timeless Affection

Once upon a time there was a little girl with blond curls, who went to Grandma’s house. Sometimes the trip was a long ride in the car, sometimes a shorter ride in a plane. Either way, along with her brothers and sister, she ended up at Grandma’s. A place filled with love, games, and snow. See, Grandma’s house was in Pueblo, Colorado. Grandma’s house had mountain views.

It was a magical place, smelling of peppermints, and home cooked meals. Decorated with crotchet, lace, and soft cushions. The little girl had her own bedroom that was simple, stylish and right out of her favorite TV show The Brady Bunch. The twin skirted bed featured a foam mattress sheeted, and covered with psychedelic swirls of bright green and yellow. Grandma always turned down the covers for her little body to snuggle beneath, tucked away from the cold Colorado nights.

Grandma’s house had stairs. Oh, the wonderful stairs behind the kitchen, to bounce, and pounce upon. Up and down, again, and again, and again. She never tired of it. They led to a basement of wonder. A delightful place for a curious child, filled with many treasures.

A sewing room featuring pictures of all the family and artwork. Another living room with a sofa sleeper couch for the boys, a TV, and an overflowing bookcase. A bedroom for her sister, and even a bathroom. It had a stand up shower, not a bathtub, which she found very different, but a great place to hide. All the windows peeked out at ground level. How exciting to see feet, and wonder whose they belonged to.

The last room in the basement was the laundry room. The likes of which she had never seen. A concrete floor sloped to a drain. Two wide basin sinks lined the wall, alongside counters. An old fashion contraption sat in the middle of the room with a tub, washboard, and a crank. She loved to crank the clothes through it, even though it was hard, and she needed Grandma’s help.

They would come out stiff, and flat. Then be taken outside to hang on the clothesline to dry. How different from her Mom’s house, where they had square machines that made funny whooshing noises.

At the top of the stairs, she loved to go up, was the backdoor that led to a carpeted covered porch the size of a large room. It was home to a ping-pong table. That’s right. Grandma loved games. Playing ping-pong was a favorite of hers, and everyone else in the neighborhood, but most especially her brothers.

Down the sidewalk to the back of the yard, just past the clothesline, but before the vegetable garden was a little red house with a door. A real playhouse with windows like she had always dreamed of. Chock full of dolls, stuffed animals, and a tiny – just the right size – table for tea, with dishes to match. Oh, the fun she had imagining for hours on end.

My sister at the playhouse in Grandma’s backyard.

Grandma’s arms were always open. Her laughter exceptionally sweet, her cheeks always rosy, and her twinkling blue eyes shined merrily. She loved her grandchildren. She loved that they visited her all the way from Oklahoma every year, nary a snowstorm could stop them. The games they would play together – Yahtzee, Monopoly, and cards. She would take them to Church. She would take them on trips. She would tirelessly take them all on – all four of them.

The many memories of Grandma’s include the thrill of summertime camping, in the mountains at a place called, Gopher Creek. Taking the ride puttering up the mountain in Grandma’s RV. Sleeping in the top bunk, snuggled next to other little bodies, crammed in the cove above the cabin, to keep warm from the chilly windows. Traipsing up the tree filled hills chasing squirrels, touching the icy mountain creek water, and roasting marshmallows by a blazing fire. The wonders never ceased to amaze with every outing.

Soon every Christmas was held on Thanksgiving at Grandma’s.

Four year old Angie, opening gifts with Grandma’s help.

As the little girl grew older, a trip to Grandma’s house included great mountain adventures in the snow. Skiing. The child endured a queasy stomach ride up the mountain to Monarch for the day. A ski resort at the highest elevation. The mountain always had snow this time of year. It was a wonderful Christmas present Grandma, so graciously, gifted. Not just for the fun of skiing, but for the memories created, and retold.

She bundled herself up with gloves, long johns, thick woolly socks, and a big (new) winter coat. She took the gusty ride on the ski lift, dangling her legs wearing big chunky ski boots, and long skis locked on. Gleefully flying down the mountain in the pure white, taking bitter cold tumbles, then breaks in the lodge to warm up.

After a long day on the mountain, they made the trek back. Spent, sore, with a red chapped face, the drive took hours to navigate the curvy mountain roads. As they arrived in Grandma’s driveway, she glimpsed through the car window at the warm glow of the kitchen window. Grandma had a hot meal, a hot chocolate, and a heartwarming welcome waiting for them. It was heaven.

When the young girl turned sixteen, she began ticking on her fingers whose Dad was whose. Her mother was twice divorced, and remarried to her Step Dad. Her Mother’s Mother was Grandma Dorothy who died before she was born. Mom’s first husband fathered her older sister, and brother. Mom’s second husband, her Dad, fathered her, and her brother Lonnie. Her Dad’s mother was Granny in Oklahoma. Her oldest brother Jay, and her older sister Deedy’s Dad was Davey, and he lived in Colorado. His Mother was Grandma Owens – who lived here. Her Grandma.

But wait a second…..after all those years, she realized – the bloodline did not cross. Her Grandma was not her Grandma by blood. She was not even related to her. How could this be?

She asked her mother when she got home, and her mother told her this story.

“When I was married to your Dad, and your brother was little, he did not understand. He heard his brother and sister calling her Grandma. He wanted to know who she was to him. He went to her with his big brown eyes and looked up at her. He said, ‘You my Ganmaw too? You my Ganmaw too?’ Grandma looked down at that little boy all of eighteen months old and her heart melted. She picked him up in her arms and said, ‘Yes, I your Ganmaw too.’ That is how she came to be your Grandmother, not by birth, but by love.”

Dear Grandma Owens,
You were the Grandma I was raised to love, and know. You cherished me like your own. You never withheld your affections, or your gift of them. The door to your heart opened wide for me and my brother. You welcomed us into your family, into it’s safety, and warmth. What a blessing you were to our young lives. You knew how much we loved our brother and sister, and you wanted to keep us all together on summer trips, and holidays. So you did. You took a sledgehammer to the ex-in-law boundaries, and what love is “supposed” to be. You bulldozed those walls. You loved us. And Grandma, we loved you too. Thank you for the gift of your affection. It is timeless to me. Timeless to us all. Our definition of family is different because of you. I promise, I will pass this gift on to every child I meet.
Love,
Your granddaughter

Grandma went to heaven, December 1st, 2008. Three days before her 91st birthday. She would have been 92 today. Happy Birthday, my sweet Grandma.

You are dearly missed, and dearly remembered.

28 thoughts on “Timeless Affection

  1. This is an amazing tribute to a wonderful woman and an example to us all. The love doesn’t have to end with blood-lines…but can extend to all. Imagine what the world would look like! Thank you for sharing! Merry Christmas.

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  2. Your Grandma was a very smart lady to be able to give so much love. Just look how much love she got in return! It is a beautiful story and one worth practicing – give lots of love unconditionaly and reap the rewards!! You have a treasure chest of good memories.

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  3. You made me cry. It was a beautiful tribute and a wonderful trip down memory lane. Thank you for sharing it with us. What an amazing woman. And how lucky you are to have known her. Wouldn’t it be great if there were more like her out there??

    ♥Spot

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  4. Lovely that you have the pics. I would love to have pics with me and my grandparents. I will have to ask my aunts for copies because I’m sure that they have soon. Lovely Blog. I love you Angie, Jason and kids that I haven’t meet yet. Next time for sure. I wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas. ~~~~ Let Love Light Your Season~~~~

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  5. Oh Angelia, THAT is community, that is sponsorship, that is giving and making everybody fly.
    AND it is priceless and what a story and indeed what a wonderful tribute to your grandmother.
    This is love in action, as you say she was slaying the silly boundaries of ‘ownership’ and ‘no you do not belong’ into ‘yes, you all belong, we are all one big family’.
    What a beautiful story, and yes we do have examples of people who can love beyond smallness and pettyness.
    Her love will be harvested by so many people, she will live on and even here where you shared her love, she lives on in mine.
    She encourages me to be love in action and I know she has encouraged you.
    She makes us a more loving person and how wonderful to have met her here.
    Angelia, you carry her light, she touched my heart and lots of love to you both, Wilma.

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  6. You made me teary! I’m ultra sensitive when it comes to grandparents…my nana is my favorite person- I want to keep her forever. Ok, now I’m really crying!

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  7. Ang – I’m in tears here. See what happens when love crosses the boundaries of ex-relationships? God bless your Grandma Owens…

    xxoo
    Peggy

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  8. Oh Lord. Okay. I’m sitting here in a coffee shop trying not to bawl. SO beautiful. SOOOO sweet! Thank You for sharing this and I LOVE that she ignored the RETARDED societal descriptions and guidelines of family and just loved, loved, LOVED!!! Thank You Angelia for once again sharing Your heart so beautifully. Cheers and Namaste. 🙂

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  9. For sowing love, you now reap its timeless reward. If you can give such kind of love to a non-relative, I’m so blessed for having you for my friend. I can feel your love crossing lines and even the vast space between us. It’s vividly painted all over your blog. I’m lost for words to tell you how great you are, Angelia. I love you, dear Friend.

    This story is an appropriate memorial to your dear Grandma. “Love” to her is an ordinary thing to give, but to all who had the luck to experience it, “Love” knows no bound, not selfish, not expecting anything in return.

    Because of your story, I now look forward to being a grandma myself. I can’t duplicate your grandma’s love, but you, Jason, and your family will be my inspiration. Thank you.

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  10. Angelia,
    “Grandmother by love…”, what a beautiful set of words. And what a beautiful way to remember this very special person in your life this week. What a wonderful blessing she was…

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  11. This was absolutely precious. I am having a very hard time this week missing her. I have thought of her so often and really began to grieve her for the first time in its wholeness. Reading this tonight was like walking back into our childhood…………and there she was, whole well, happy to be in her beloved colorado, showing us four its glories every year, and then coming to Ada to share Christmas with us. And the ski trips after we were older, sister your timing was perfect.

    You helped to comfort my aching heart so much with this. Thank you for one of the most precious Christmas gifts you could have ever given me. I can’t believe how accurately you remembered all of this, down to the same smells! that I associate with her house also, and I always loved the office room too in the basement, as well as helping her with the laundry each week. What a precious history we have together as sisters. What would I ever do without you,

    Love you so very very much,
    B. sis

    p.s. she could never get over the fact, and spoke of it often, that a woman who was only able to have one child, my daddy, could be so blessed in having so many grandchildren to love her and then from all of us, Eric and Jaelynn and Syd, and my four, and Laney too. and all of her EX- daughters in law, mom, Susie Owens, that stayed in contact with her and still loved her. She would talk about all of us, (and brag too!) about her BIG BIG family she had to her friends at church.

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  12. I cried all through this post… i miss your ganmaw for you… my granny left us many years ago, but she never, ever is gone from my heart… like i am sure yours is not…

    thank you for your hug… even from a stranger it means alot… and please come back 🙂 i would love to have you over… 🙂

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  13. My grandmother was from Pueblo, CO too! Your grandmother sounds like a beautiful woman inside and out. Thanks for letting your readers get to know her a bit.

    *SITS sistah

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  14. =,)

    You make me smile through the tears. I miss my pop pop something fierce. But I LOVE remembering all the time we spent together. I dont think anyone since him has made me feel as cherished as he did.

    Beautiful tribute to a beautiful woman. I’m thinking your gonna be just like her when you grow up. 😉

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  15. Daune-Thank you! She deserved it.

    JennyQ-It is something to imagine. How precious would it be. The acceptance that would embrace, and the love that would shine. Thank you for the beautiful thought.

    Jessica-I wasn’t real close to my other “real” grandma, so this was very special and rare.

    Sue-She was and she reminds me so much of you. You give out love unconditionally and it shows in the hearts of those around you. Both of you are great examples of how to reap the awards.

    Spot-It would be astounding! I am very lucky. She had a beautiful soul, and a beautiful laugh.

    Sandy-Thank you sweet Sandy. Love back atcha! I had some pictures stashed away. I am very happy with technology, it’s easy to digitize and share.

    Wilma-You know back in the day, I think it took tremendous courage for her. Divorce was not common and people tended to distance themselves from it. But not her, she embraced it and us. She truly was an example of love in action, courage, and DOing community. This woman served in a soup kitchen every Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. She was a wonderful example for us all!

    Steph-Ah Steph! I’m sorry! I am so glad you have a Nana. You will have her forever just maybe not physically. Cherish and hold her love in your heart. She will be the heartbeat of your soul.

    Peggy-You are doing exactly what she did. She smiles from heaven on rebels like you. She is nodding her head, and saying “She gets it”, not just that you get it mentally, but you get it physically. You are reaping the awards of boundless love. Amen, Peggy! Amen.
    xoxox

    Paul-It is amazing to remember. They sure deserve the honor. Thank you for your comment, and your care. I know it’s not easy for you to get around to blogs. Your comment is very dear to me.

    Heather-Thanks Heather! I hope the sentiments remembered were as sweet and lovely as they could be. I hope you remembered nice things, even if it was bittersweet.

    My Kashi-You are welcome. I am so glad I could share it and remember it as well.

    Bliss-Ah Bliss! What a mental picture of you in the coffee shop :-). She really just bragged that we were hers. She stayed close with my mother too, even after her son remarried EIGHT times. Amazing!

    Melissa B-You are welcome, thanks for comment. Congrats on your SITS day!

    Suzicate-I couldn’t have summed it up better myself. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. It means the world to honor her.

    Senior Debutante-Thank you, for your friendship and kind words. I appreciate so much what it has done for your heart and that you shared that with me. You have inspired me with your kindness and love. You make sharing my stories worth it. Bless you dear friend!

    Lance-Thank you Lance, I agree. If we could all be more to each other by love than birth, then so many hearts would fill up. So many don’t receive love from birth, so to get it without was truly incredible. Something I am still learning to revel in.

    Sis-I have no doubt that YOU wouldn’t let Grandma exclude YOUR brother and sister. I am sure you bossed her into taking that first step, and we all reaped those awards. She is happy, whole and healthy in our heart. She shines from many places. I know her Church friends were blinded by the abundant love and glorious family that always surrounded her. I love you, my sister, and my friend. You are so much like her in many, many ways.

    Holly-You are welcome, Holly. Thank you for visiting back. I hand out hugs freely. I even hugged the lab lady that took my blood in the Doctors office yesterday. No one can escape them! Ganmaw’s heart in heaven is beaming joy from all the comments and warmth here in this post.

    marfmom-Seriously?? That is awesome! Did you go to Bishop’s Castle as well? That wasn’t far from Pueblo. Thank you for coming by and doing her memory justice!

    Chirsty-We were! She was. I just hope I can always hold myself to her standard and give back what she gave us.

    Mindy-Thank you so much for your sweet comment. I hope so, she was worthy of the endearment.

    Peedee-The memories of them are precious and treasured. That is one thing that can never be gone. Feeling cherished, and loved is a blissful bestowal. I am glad you had that in your life. I KNOW you pass it on to Lauren and everyone you meet.

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