Sunday, May 02, 2010

Honoring Gram

This week I hope to post several times in honor of Mother's Day. Last year I had a difficult time dealing with this holiday because I had just lost my mom, Sue Benzing, and was waiting for my daughter to be born. There were too many emotions for me to struggle with at that time, and I could hardly look at the Mother's day card section in the store. I wanted to honor my mom, but I couldn't think of a single thing to do. I was at a loss, and was still hurting so much from my recent loss, that the holiday came and went without doing much special.

This year I'm choosing to honor my mom by celebrating Mother's day. I have a daughter this year, and get to celebrate for the first time!! I'm also focusing on helping others love and honor and remember their moms (or other precious person who is gone). Yesterday I saw my sisters and had a gift for each of them for Mother's Day. I'd gotten these beautiful picture frames at Target that said:

"Mother. . . All that I am, and hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.
~ Abraham Lincoln"

I put a picture of each of them with Mom in the frame. They turned out really pretty, and I was so happy with them.

I also was able to visit
my grandmother, Helen Wilkinson yesterday. She has Alzheimer's and lives in a very nice home for the elderly with dementia. The staff are just wonderful, and we were able to sit and talk with Gram for a little while. Of course she does not know us at all, and when we talk, it very rarely makes any sense, but she is entirely pleasant, and you can at least feel like she's pleased to be having the conversation with you. Here is a picture of my sisters, my niece and me with Gram. I want to tell you a little bit of what I remember about having Gram as an active part of my life as a little girl:

  • Gram always painted her nails beige. She'd paint ours, too, but hers looked better because they were long.
  • Gram sewed a lot. She taught us to piece quilts by hand. For a long time, Anna and I had a hand in part of every quilt she was putting together. It was such a warm, relaxing pastime to enjoy together, and I remember absolutely loving it.
  • Gram loved sports, especially baseball (the Reds) and football (the Bengals). She often told us about going to Red's games at Crosley Field (she'd say "Crosley Feel") when she was a young lady. We'd watch the games with her at her house, unless Grandad didn't want to watch sports (so funny that she liked them and he didn't!). Then we'd listen to it on the radio. Gram went to the All-Star game in 1976 with my dad (who is her son-in-law) and his brother. I bet they had a ball.
  • You could always get Gram to laugh at your story. She gave you just the response you wanted. Probably ever since, I have found some of the best people to be around are the ones who easily laugh at what is funny. It's a gift -- a way to love others.
  • Gram baked for special occasions. She'd ALWAYS make Cherry Delight (pronounce that by emphasizing the DE-light), and we'd rave and rave. She made several special occasion cakes as well, but often said pies were not her thing.
  • Every morning Gram ate half of a bagel with cream cheese and strawberry preserves. For the longest time, she'd get her bagels at this amazing authentic place in Cincinnati that had sold bagels forever (as in, before they were popular and available everywhere -- Cincy had/has a large Jewish population). We LOOOooooooved going to the bagel store with her, because you could taste samples and choose your own kind. Gram also drank coffee with cream and sugar. The color of it kind of matched her nail polish.
  • Gram came to stay with us in all the houses and states we lived in. Sometimes it was when Mom and Dad were out of town. You could count on lots of board games being played (and quilts pieced).
  • Gram hooked us on the TV show Matlock. It was a fave (we didn't watch much tv).
  • We begged Gram to retell old stories. As we got older, and her Alzheimer's began to show up, that was mostly what she told. Right now I'd love to rehear one. Here are some amazing stories: Gram killed a copperhead snake when she was a little girl with a hoe. Gram eloped with Grandad when she was 15.
I wanted to write about this woman, who now lives a simple little unnoticed life. I want to show her honor, even though she cannot know I am doing so. Helen Wilkinson was my mom's Mother, and my heart weeps to think that her name not receive a little bit of fame that it deserves. If you knew Helen Wilkinson, and have a memory to add, please post a comment and share it.

What are you planning to do to honor your mother this week? Do you do anything in someone's memory? I'll be posting more about motherhood and my own Mom as the week goes on. In the meantime, if you are new to my blog, you can click the label "My Mom" to read a few posts about Sue Benzing. Thank you for showing her honor by doing so.


The Spiegels said...

Hey! Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this. What a great way to celebrate you mom's life! And your Grandmother's! It brought tears to my eyes! As you know, this is my first Mother's Day too. My mom is in Brazil, so I don't get to spend the day with her, but I prepared a Photo Album of Sophia so I can send it to her as a surprise. This is how I am going to celebrate the date. :)

Elizabeth said...

What a nice post Gretchen. I always wondered where your mom got her love of quilts- now I know! How nice that you got to see your Grandmother and visit with her. Happy First Mother's Day!

Anonymous said...

I have celebrated many Mother's DAy from far away...but the many memories I have of living at home still to this day live on in the way I Mother and Grandmother. My Mom was all I ever wanted to be like..she was so true and honest and a joy to be with no matter what we were doing. Thanks for this post Gretchen...I love you and your spirit!! Aunt Diane

Anonymous said...

I totally remember playing board games with Gram when mom and dad were out of town....we played Wheel of Fortune, and I remember one time the answer was "Grammy Awards" we couldn't believe it! (we also didn't know what they were). I remember Gram teaching us all the states capitals while mom and dad were gone to surprise mom, and still remember Montana's being Grams name..(Helena)...Gram also taught me how to work, and if you are being paid, to give them their money's worth! :) I remember her sharing that nugget with me the night I went to my first 3rd shift night at Auto Zone! How sweet!!! :) Love her SO was so good to see her. :*)


Emily Benzing said...

I wish I had had more time with Grammy, since we lived far away most of my life. Gram and I shared/share one major thing though, our love of coffee! I remember one time getting up before mom and dad, and of course Gram was up already, and she made us both coffee with lots of cream and sugar...and she took me outside and we sat on the swing and drank it. I was probably no older than five or six. To this day, I believe there is nothing better than drinking a good cup of coffee outside.
Gram was a great Goodwill-er too! Most of my more recent memories (when we were traveling back and forth to N.C.) include shopping at goodwill and other various thrift stores. Never under estimate a good bargain!

Janna said...

These are such important memories to be recording for you and your family.

Your words do honor your mother and your grandmother. Your desire to honor them shows what a legacy they have left you.