Monday, February 13, 2012

Bye Grams.....

I don't know what this week will hold for me, I could be a posting fool....I'll certainly try, but maybe there won't be anything either. Friday evening my Grams passed in her sleep after a long struggle with Alzheimer's and it's unhinged me just a bit. I've been sitting here in front of this 'Damn Box(tm)' trying unsuccessfully to write something cogent about a tough old lady that did more than her part to raise me ie; keep me out of jail or the doxy house. 
Trouble is I'm just not all here today so I'm going to regurgitate a couple pieces about my grand parents, written several years ago if you all don't mind:

circa 2000 give or take a few

What can I say about Grams? She's a pistol, but that doesn't even scratch the surface. She's tougher than any man I've even met. And I'm not talking mental toughness alone, I'd have pitted her against any man in an arm wrestling match. She was a tough lady all around. The last years of Grampa's life weren't much so she ran the ranch by herself for the most part. When I could get away (and travel 300 miles) I'd help and most everyone else did when time allowed, but she made do. Mending fences, tending the animals (20 - 30 head of horses, several hundred head of cattle, a pile of barn cats, five or ten working dogs, her house dogs, selling stock; which meant hauling said stock to market, house work...ok, minimal housework, vehicle or implement repair, canning, gardening, putting up hay for the winter (50+ tons) get the point. She could take it.
My Gram'ma grew up poor, 'Coal miner's daughter' poor. Everything was earned the hard way, with real hard work and real hard sweat. As she got older she worked in sawmills right next to the men. She did it all, hunting, fishing (including some long term gigs throughout Alaska) and was a pretty good looker to boot .
If Grampa taught me 'How and When' to fight, Grams taught me WHY. She taught me to be strong but not to be hurtful about it because it takes more strength to be gentle than the most barbaric individual could ever possess. She taught me to skin an elk. She let me drive the pickup 25 miles into town.....when I was 10! 

She also read to me when I couldn't sleep, told me stories until neither of us could stay awake and always made me drink a glass of milk while we listened the farm reports just before bed.....hey, when you're 8 and that's all the radio you can get.....?..........

Grams was always strong. For some reason when she did something it just seemed more.......Done. More somehow than when someone else did the same job.
Her hands were thick with muscle and tendon, thick stubby fingers tipped with blunt work shortened nails.
She really could crush a walnut between her fingers. No biggie right? I'm an imposing fellow, I can certainly crush a walnut IN MY HAND.........she used her thumb and finger. I shit you not. I saw her do it and learned a new respect right that moment....I was 20 at the time, full of piss and vinegar.....and humility.

My Grams loved me. I could just tell, even if she'd never said the words (which was pretty often) I knew. You just knew, even if all it was just a squeeze on the shoulder walking by. Even the little things came to mean as much as the words and hugs. Even if she spoke harshly (tough..remember?) you could tell. She wasn't deriding you but steering you back into the right direction......and being proud of you the whole time.  She spent a good amount if time steering me back on course……yeah......I might have been real Trouble if not for Grams…

Time passes...

I see my Grama now when I can, she's my Grams after all, but not enough. She's somehow turned into a little old lady. She stoops now, has bad knees and uses a cane for balance. She's a little forgetful but never forgets me. I just can't get over how this big powerful lady turned into a small frail old lady. Her hands still throw me. She's still got big thick powerful hands, most men would envy the strength left in that grip.

I miss my Grams and should call her more. I'm writing myself a note to call her tomorrow. She likes talking to me on the phone and always asks how my 'motorbike thing' is going.....Yeah I definitely need to call her, she makes me smile. My little old Irish Grandmother.

note: I did call her after I wrote this piece and like every time, I hung the phone up with a smile. 
I miss my grams a lot today.


  1. So sorry about your loss Lee. She sounds like an awesome lady. I would love to have met her. Your tribute to her brought a tear to my eye.

  2. Thanks Troy, means a great deal.....