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My Grandma lived a very long and healthful life. She raised 10 babies of her own and was very present with all of her grandchildren and many of her great-grandchildren. She lived more than 9 decades – I can only imagine all the changes she has seen in this world – it’s very impressive, as was she.

Grandma has had several strokes over the past several years which has taken a bit of her memory with them. We’ve been separated by distance for more than 14 years and I sadly have only seen her a couple of times in those years. But when we were little kids, she used to live with us some, or she lived nearby. And as we grew a little older, she was near enough that we’d catch a visit every couple of years at the most.

She taught me origami, on beautiful pretty papers and she taught me how to crochet – something I remember her always doing. The whole family cherishes their “Grandma Smith Blankets”. The ones I love the most are the ones she did for all the babies as they were born – with their names in the middle. After all these years, I still have mine, Hannah has hers, and I have another one that she gave me for my wedding. Sadly, she had stopped crocheting when my boys were born so they don’t have one. But so many of our family do, and I think it’s amazing that she was so dedicated to doing those – all of which are unique. She also taught me how to double tie my shoes so they’d stay, in a special Grandma style – one pull of the ends and it all comes undone – but otherwise they’re stuck once tied! She loved to bake bread and cookies – both which are unique to her and hopefully stay in the family a very long time. She  loved fried egg sandwiches with tomato, I didn’t but suffered through a few anyway. Her German accent stuck with her through her entire life, even though most of those years were spent in the US and speaking English. She wore her hair the same way, she always wore the same style dresses and shoes, her rosary was always around her neck, and her sweater was always a part of her attire. These things were Grandma. Her faith was strong and never wavered. She loved Colorado and especially when family came to visit her there. I remember going to visit and going on hikes with her. She was a big part of my early childhood and I will miss her very much.

Edit: I just got home from spending 4 hours at my brother’s house and we did some reminiscing about Grandma and her life as a child escaping from Nazi Germany and the books she wrote throughout her life to document her life from a child to an adult and her children. I know these books have existed for many years but since each family got one set, they’ve never been in my possession and I’ve not read them. I do remember looking through them as a child but never reading them. I recall asking my dad not too long ago where the books were because I would like to read them, I wanted to know more about the family history. It seems my sister has them and I look forward to getting them and reading them. Adam and I talked about his ide to scan them in and make them available digitally to share with the younger generations as well – this way everyone can have a copy – great idea Adam.

And while we were remembering things about Grandma, we together remembered some things that I had forgotten when I wrote this entry this morning. While Grandma taught me to crochet and we all received blankets, she also made us endless pairs of socks and mittens and hats. I think I had forgotten about these since it has been many years since I personally had these. Every Christmas we would get a box in the mail from Grandma – bread, cookies, and crocheted goods – hats, gloves, socks, and yarn dolls. How could I forget about the yarn dolls? She taught me how to make them and I remember making plenty in my younger years! I decided that I will teach my kids how to make these dolls in the very near future. What a creative person my Grandma was!

Adam and I think the name blankets probably ended with my nephew, Jacob and second cousin Brenna. Though I’m unsure and would have to ask to see if they even got theirs. It was shortly after they were born that Grandma had her first stroke and those kinds of projects ended. But I could be wrong. I may re-edit this again when I have more details on that.

It was really nice to talk about this with Adam and share some memories – some I had that he didn’t remember and some he had that I didn’t remember. It was a nice and relaxing way to spend the evening.

/Edit.

The entire family has always cherished Grandma, they call her the matriarch of this big family. And she is, but matriarch is so formal and regal and big – something Grandma never was. She’s just a small lady, lived life very simply and honestly – I think something that has definitely carried through the family all these years. Something I have always loved about family gatherings is when they tell stories of when they were kids – these stories have been told a million times which I think is important. Memories live strong in this family. We’ve all been separated by distance for years – but our closeness has never failed. Many times we’re all just able to pick up where we left off even if it’s been years. I loved growing up with my cousins near and those that would visit for big holidays. The holiday food was always something to be in awe of. Large tables, a lot of food, people of all ages, kids running everywhere, traditional food items always included. I miss that. I miss that even more today. I’m sure we all do.

The past few weeks have been long for Grandma – her journey has been long and weary but yesterday morning she went to the place she’s longed to be. She’s joined Papa and Uncle Pete. I hope she’s smiling largely and walking freely and I know she’ll be forever looking over this very large and loving family that she created and nurtured and kept in line. There is a very sad place in my heart right now. Right about now the family is gathering for her funeral and I’m sad to not be there. But I type these thoughts and memories at a time when it’s so important. I send lots of hugs and love to my family and hope that Grandma’s strength is holding them tightly.

We took this picture in June for our family reunion. While the entire family is not represented, it’s very close. [I think it’s about 30 people not represented, so many not as closely represented as I first thought! 30 more people would make for a much larger group!]  We’re a large and boisterous bunch. I’m so glad we all had this opportunity to be together, to see Grandma this one last time, it warms my heart to see the family together.