Just short of her 101st birthday, my grandmother passed away. I went to her funeral on Friday. She was the kind of woman who deserves a blog post in her honor. At the least.
Rose was born the same year (my husband tells me) that Robert Browning created his best gun to date, the 1911. Also the same year the town of Price, Utah was founded. That’s significant because she lived in Price for more than 75 years.
She married her husband, Gerald, and together they built a house during the great Depression with old bricks from demolished buildings. She lived in that house until the day she died. Her husband Gerald died more than 53 years ago, and she never remarried. She raised her two youngest children without him.
Growing up, we’d drive through the canyon on Sunday afternoons and visit her. She’d always feed us. The family joke is that we’re not sure what exactly was in the food, or how old it was, so it was probably her that gave us all such iron stomachs. Once, while spending the night there with my cousin, Grandma made us sandwiches to eat outside under her huge weeping willow. First off, the sandwiches were made from vegetables she’d run through the meat grinder. Second, ants kept falling from the tree onto our food. When we pointed this out to her, she said, “Eat em. They have meat on their bones.”
She never, ever threw things away. Her basement was every child’s wonderland with relics left over from the 1920’s and 30’s. (It was also kinda creepy.)
According to her journals, she did three things everyday: prayer, exercise, scriptures. Those words were at the beginning of each entry. Her service to her family and friends attested to her devotion to her faith. While, well into her nineties, she still did sit ups. She also stood on a chair, then got off, then stood on it again, just to make sure she could. She is famous for whitewashing her house, shoveling snow off her roof, and driving other old ladies around (all of whom were younger than she was), when most others her age would be content watching TV in a comfy chair.
Her determination and independent spirit were legendary. To give you an idea of what she was like: A couple of years ago, she fell in her driveway and broke her hip. Instead of crying for help, she lay there until she felt the pain was bearable (about two hours), then crawled to her house. She didn’t tell anyone about it for two days. When her son who lived next door to her found out about it, he took her to the doctor, under protestation. The doctor told her she would either have to have surgery, or spend the rest of her life in bed. You can imagine the idea of spending her life in bed didn’t appeal to her. It was the only surgery she’d ever had.
Grandma Rose’s descendants number more than 250. She instilled in all of us a drive to excel and an appreciation for hard work. It is upon the backs of women like her that empires rise or fall and families are made or broken. I may be overstating it a little, but I don’t think so.
Even with all her funny quirks, she certainly built up my family and made us strong. She will be missed.