Thank you Grandma!
|That's me sitting in my grandfather's lap - grandma to the right|
and my siblings standing in the back row
As I recounted those days to my children I also, by happenstance, explained to them something so simple yet so many today take for granted - how to cook - what to look for in that bean they were snapping, how we were going to prepare them for a fresh green bean salad to go with our dinner tonight - and then how lucky we were a friend gave us those beans enabling us to be able to eat a healthy fresh meal for a very low - next to nothing - impact on our budget.
It was so natural as we went through the motions of preparing our beans to be blanched. I could see my grandmother, that little round woman with soft features smiling as she prepared her love for her family, and in those few moments I realized the stress of my day was not on my mind - I was not preoccupied with that ever constant calculator in my head - nor did I feel the pain in my ankles and hands despite my autoimmune condition kicking up and flaring it's heels this week - Yes, life's worries took a backseat to living in the moment and appreciating what was before me along with the memories that mean so much.
|Clayton Mark (Evanston, IL) - my father worked|
there when he was a young man after the Korean War
and returned to there when moving back to IL after
living in California where I was born - He would
become the president of the Local UAW
In all reality it was just a couple of hours a day I would spend with grandma - but, in those hours so much was accomplished, whether it was hopping a bus to go shopping at the fish market, deli or bakery to walking a few blocks to visit her friends where they would share coffee and sweets while they spoke to each other in their native language - I would sit quietly trying to dissect what they were saying as I flipped through the pages of a German magazine.
It was those simple every day routine experiences of watching my grandmother take care of her family, care for her friends while she honored her heritage that has taught me more than I ever realized. Without realizing it I was learning how to be a strong loving woman. I realize this now as I reflect back to my grandmother's life -
|St. Nicholas - Evanston, IL|
|Taken before leaving her home in Rosengarten|
to come to America to marry the man she loved -
Then she was Bertha Keuchel - a young woman
risking all to become Bertha Woywod
Together they survived the Great Depression raising three young children, my father being the youngest - And she survived a pain no mother should ever know when her eldest son died an untimely death at the tender age of nine. A death that could have been prevented if a doctor had given him the tetanus shot he needed after slipping on a fence while climbing and injuring himself -
She survived all of this and more and with her family so very far from her back across a sea...many of whom would perish at the end of WWII as Stalin's Army overtook Prussia and the village of Rosengarten would never be known as such again. She also survived the scrutiny many German immigrants underwent at that time...much like many Muslim Americans must deal with today -
|She lived and survived through so very much -|
And through it all she remained a kind compassionate
woman - When those around her were happy and content
she was content -
|My father as a young man with his mother -|
Two souls to have touched and shaped me
to be the woman I am today!
Thank you Grandma - Rest in Peace!