Today we celebrated my Grandmother’s 95th birthday. She just recently broke her hip after having 95 healthy years. Up until the day she broke her hip she was driving everywhere she needed to go, gardening, cleaning her house, going to church … well pretty much whatever she wanted! My parents made the hard decision to have her placed in an assisted living house where she is well taken care of but she is depressed. While I was visiting her a few days ago she told me that she always thought it would be neat to live to a ripe old age but she said now there is no use for her. In her words, “All I want to do is go home!” It’s hard to see my grandma giving up on life when she has always been the one who looks on the bright side of things. I know it must be difficult when you have been so active. Then the rug is yanked out from under you and you are relying on everyone to take care of you.
So, when she says that she doesn’t want any more birthdays all I can say is “I do!” but that is only a selfish reason especially since she is the last grandparent that I have alive. I’ve realized too late that I wasn’t listening enough to my grandparents because I really don’t know enough about their life stories and their life experiences.
After visiting with Grandma before her party she was wishfully thinking about spring planting her flowers. She was born with a green thumb and could probably turn a weed into something beautiful. So, I bought her some Gardenia tubers, her favorite flowers, along with the supplies to do some gardening at her new assisted living home. But it didn’t seem personal enough so I wrote her a tribute. Here is what I wrote:
Many of you are probably thinking what was life like 95 years ago for women when Grandma /Viola were born?
If you lived 95 years ago you would probably driving a Model T Ford at a treacherous speed of 30 miles per hour so I figured that is where Grandma picked up her need for speed when traveling to town to get groceries, get her hair done or deposit their daily gas station earnings in the bank.
If you lived 95 years ago new inventions like the vacuum cleaners, wringer washing machines and electricity were developed to make the woman’s domestic duties much easier to do so they had more time to entertain their friends. During that time it was the woman’s desire to be the perfect housewife while their wonderful husband was off bringing home the bacon. They would tie on their apron and quickly wash windows, scrub the floors , polish the silverware, hang out their delicates on the clothes line in the back yard and don’t forget to prepare a three course meal . Just before their husbands were to arrive home they made sure to change into a nice dress, have the hot meal on the table and be waiting at the door with a smile on their face greeting their perfect husband because their job for the rest of the evening was to make sure he was a happy camper.
Grandma has always had that ability to be the perfect housewife. She always has a house that is perfectly spotless and it didn’t matter if you stopped by for an unexpected visit. I swear you can eat off her floors and well the windows you couldn’t even tell that there was even a window there because they are so spotless. As for her laundry well if there was a stain she has some secret household recipe that would erase it like it wasn’t even there to begin with.
Although you might be thinking that life as a housewife was all hard work well they found time to have fun. With the invention of the phone you could keep up with the local gossip especially because they had party lines where you could listen in on your neighbor’s conversations which I am sure they never did. Local gossip for example was did you know Betty got a new refrigerator which costed 285$ and how in the world could she afford that, or did you see Sharon’s new outfit that I swear was showing way too much leg out in public! Yes they were beginning to wear dresses that showed their knees! Shocking! They were also beginning to wear lipstick and cut their hair. Those days were definitely risky! It was important though to keep up with your friends so you had to make sure that you were always dressed to the nines. Grandma is still trying to keep up! She won’t be caught without her hair done up, nails perfectly painted and her lipstick on. As for her outfits you won’t catch her off guard because she always has on well pressed pants with a matching top!
With all the new household appliances being invented women had time to join clubs or organizations Such as bowling leagues, meeting with the church ladies, or having your neighbor ladies over for a tea.
If you were single 95 years ago you might be going to amusement parks or dance clubs. This was also the era where alcohol was prohibited so if you liked to live life on the edge you may have attended speakeasies or carried a garter flask. Now, this could put Grandma in a whole new light. Maybe she will share a few stories? Women were even allowed to play some sports that were considered lady-like such as tennis, golf and yes even swimming.
So as I began to reflect on what life for women was like 95 years ago I realized that is what has shaped Grandma into the person she is and that I admire. When people talk about their grandma’s I love to brag about mine because she is not like most grandmas. Grandma is the spunkiest person I know with the best outlook on life even at 95 years of life. When you talk with Grandma she always makes you feel like what you are sharing is the most important information and she always has something cheery to say that leaves you chuckling out loud. She is very competitive and loves to beat the pants off you when you are playing Euchre but she always is innocent about it like it was an accident. Grandma we all know that you are a secret card shark. Grandma also takes pride in herself and living her life to the fullest potential. She is always looking for ways to help everyone around her. At one point she was delivering meals on wheels to people younger than her! So, grandma keep living life to its fullest! I’m still watching and learning from a pro. Believe me I’ve still got a plenty to learn just ask my husband who thinks I could learn few things about being a perfect housewife and that whole thing about doting on your husband? Hmmm … well, I’ll probably never master that skill like you.