On Sunday night, after grandma Nelson passed away, my mom, Toni, sent the boys outside to help shuck corn in order to prepare for dinner. It’s not that shucking corn is usually a sentimental past time, but on Sunday, as I watched my boys shuck corn for their grandma, I couldn’t help but remember all of the times I had done so for mine. Whether it was a few ears of corn for grandma, grandpa and myself or a few dozen for a family barbecue, shucking corn seemed far more special than just a simple meal time task.
Compared to a lot of grandkids, I’m fortunate to say, that I got to spend a lot of time with my grandparents. I clearly remember the smell of Grandma’s home and how welcomed I felt anytime I was there thanks to both her and my grandpa. As a kid I got to spend about a week up at Grandma’s house every summer. She always seemed to make that week count and I’m sure she was exhausted once I left.
There were the staples that we did every visit. We’d go to lunch a few times, hit the local swimming pool or make the trip to Belmont Springs. She’d always make sure to take me to see my dad in Logan at least once, and she’d always take me to church….whether I wanted to go or not. If fact, one of the first questions she would ask me upon arrival was if I remembered a dress. We’d also always stay up to watch the news and Johnny Carson after grandpa went to bed. She’d knit or sometimes I’d curl up in her lap.
My favorite thing about my annual summer visit was the shopping. Every year, she’d take me back to school shopping. We’d start in “town” by going to Christensen’s where we’d never buy anything, and then we’d discuss whether we would go to Logan or Ogden to do the majority of the shopping. Usually, we’d end up in Logan. I remember the last year we went school shopping. I was going into sixth grade and I was all about “Guess” jeans. I was also moving from the Girls sizes to the junior sizes. It was this year that I found the perfect pair of acid washed Guess overalls in the Girls section that I just had to have. They fit, if I didn’t breathe. Grandma being the good sport she was with me, didn’t bat an eye at the $80 price tag. She just said it would limit what other things we could buy, but I was more than fine with that. These were the overalls that I probably wore four times. Who knew that breathing was more important than fashion?
I have lots of memories of Grandma in the kitchen too. I remember her canning dilly beans as well as making oddly paired jams such as apricot plum peach. I don’t think anyone every had the heart to tell her that mixing these was not necessary. One kind of fruit in jam is enough. We all remember her and know her best for her infamous carrot pudding and its sauce. And I remember her for liking her meat particularly well done. I learned at an early age not to let grandma order my meat at a restaurant since I like things a little on the bloody side vs. the leather she enjoyed.
I remember her tolerance as well. Every visit I made up to Tremonton also included a ride on grandpa’s motorcycle. I think she sat in the front window waiting for us to return the entire time we were gone. Then there were Grandpa’s three wheelers that grandma never liked. One particular memory comes to mind of Nathan and I racing around the house blazing a trail in their grass. Nathan popped a wheelie and off we both flew. My head barely missed the sidewalk and after Nathan’s quick check to see if I was okay he was running to catch the three wheeler before it went through Irene Payne’s flower bed. If she saw it, she never said anything, but I’m pretty sure that it was shortly after that that the three wheelers were gone.
Grandma was full of kindness too. As I grew into my teens, I no longer made my week long stays at her house. However, between my junior and senior year in high school, my best friend’s brother died unexpectedly and she needed get away. So I called my Grandma and explained the sensitive situation. Before I knew it, Val and I were off to spend a few days at Grandma’s house. It wasn’t only a visit, it was an escape. She sent us to the rodeo with grandpa where grandpa then sent us to the fair with $100 after the calf roping made Val nauseas. There is something about carnival rides that helps the grieving process for a teenager, but there is something sacred about going to Grandma’s house. Somewhere along the lines, it turned into a place I knew I could go when I or anyone I knew needed a sanctuary and knowing it was open to my friends made it even more special.
She was funny too. This is something my mom never saw in my grandma, but there was the occasion her dry wit would come out. It was easy to miss, if fact, it wasn’t uncommon for me to catch her witty comment until well after the conversation had passed. Landon and I both remember sitting at her kitchen bar laughing with her shortly after grandpa died. We just wish we could remember what the conversation was about because it was one of those priceless unexpected moments.
I have a lot of things I could say about my Grandmother. I could go on about the vacation she and Grandpa took me on, her flower beds, and more. But I can’t end without mentioning her talent in front of a camera. Never have I seen anyone so photogenic that they look “three sheets to the wind” in almost every photo.
I have a lot of memories that I am grateful for. But the best thing I could probably say it that I love her and while she wasn’t one to spoil me with hugs and kisses, she always made it clear that she loved me too. In fact, one of the few things I hope my daughter, Zoe, can experience is having even half of the relationship with her grandma that I had with mine.
So Grandma, thanks for all the times we shared. I hope you’ve found the happiness you deserve. Oh-and Owen asks that if you see Brighteyes in heaven, that you give her a pat.