A Tribute to My Grandmother
My grandmother was before her time in setting an example for all the women around her and who knew her. She grew up in the horse and buggy days and was born in 1888. My grandfather courted her in a horse and buggy. She was the daughter of a Methodist minister and raised under strict rules. However, that didn’t stop her from utilizing her talents and being all that she could be at the time.
She raised four children, three boys and one girl giving birth to them at home without any anesthesia. I believe she did have a midwife, however. During the great depression, my grandfather was riding a motorcycle to work and was crushed between two cars. He was laid up with a broken, crushed pelvis and upper leg for several years and unable to work. So my grandmother took in laundry to wash for money and the older two boys quit school to go to work as teenagers to help support the family. My dad only finished the 9th grade. Sometime after my grandfather was able to get back on his feet and walk again, my grandmother was cranking the old car for him to drive. The engine kicked and the crank handle slammed into her right wrist breaking the bone. They couldn’t afford for her to go to a doctor so she set it herself. In later years, a doctor remarked what a good job she did setting the wrist bone back in place. It healed perfectly and she had full use of her hand after it healed.
My dad had a jewelry store and was a watch repairman. People would also bring him clocks but when someone brought him a grandfather clock or a coo coo clock, he would bring it home for grandmother to repair. She was never trained but had a high mechanical aptitude and a sense of perfect balance. The chains and weights on a coo coo have to be set just right to work as does the pendulum, chains and weights on a grandfather clock. The balance has to be perfect. So she would repair them for dad and no one was ever the wiser.
She always had chickens for eggs and the stew pot. She sold eggs for extra income and when we needed a chicken for dinner, she would go out and select the hen. The chicken in question always knew before anyone made a move and would start running around cackling like crazy trying to escape. I was usually the agile one to catch the frightened bird. She would wring their neck and process the bird in the afternoon to be cooked for dinner. That was pretty much a weekly event. She taught me how to clean and remove feathers and dress it out. She also would clean and dress game that dad and his brothers brought home whether it be a deer, squirrel, rabbit, duck, quail, or dove plus fresh caught fish. She would also build a brooder for baby chicks. I watched her build one for herself and later for me. She never measured the lumber but would build an eight foot run attached to a four foot square brooder where the baby chicks would be kept under a light until they had feathers and could exercise in the run. This was elevated off the ground on legs with fine mesh screen for the top, bottom and sides. The brooder was fully enclosed with a lid that raised up to access the interior and the baby chicks. She would just use a hand saw, hammer and nails. We didn’t have power tools back then. She could just eye the lumber and cut it to a perfect length without ever using a measuring tape. It just amazed me. She also built a number of elevated individual hutches to keep the guinea hens she later raised to sell.
When their old car needed a tune up, grandmother would go out and tune up the car. She never learned to drive but could sure keep that old car running at its best.
When she was in her mid to late sixties, their old house needed a new shingle roof. The house had a steep roof pitch but that didn’t stop grandma. She and dad climbed the ladder, tied ropes to their torsos which were tied to trees on the opposite sides of the house, tore off the old shingles then proceeded to nail down new shingles. She did this in a long dress, stockings, and 2 inch high heel lace up shoes. She never wore pants or tennis shoes as she was old fashioned. It terrified and amazed me to see her on that roof in a long dress. Grandma always did what needed to be done regardless of her sex or if it was something not commonly done by a woman.
She was also a terrific gardener and had an all natural garden before organic gardens were in vogue. She also canned in the summer and was a fantastic cook. She and grandfather loved to do crossword puzzles to keep their minds sharp and would read the dictionary to learn new words.
During her lifetime she nursed more than one relative back to health and managed to live to a ripe old age of 94. She just died of old age and from her body being worn out. She had no specific illness. I am not aware that she ever took any medication but did use herbs and basic compounds which was also not common back then. The only surgery she ever had was cataract surgery. She attended a chiropractor to keep her spine adjusted and it served her well. She did suffer from arthritis later in life but didn’t let that slow her down.
She was my role model and has been my inspiration. I am basically a farm girl and am usually not afraid to tackle anything needing to be done whether it was building a barn and wiring it for lights, driving a tractor, building fence, pulling a trailer load of hay, or tuning my own truck or working on my own car doing brake jobs, changing oil etc. I have her to thank giving me confidence to do things needing to be done and not waiting for a man to do it for me. Both grandparents encouraged me to be whatever I wanted to be and not let my gender hold me back. Women like my grandmother are few and far between even in this day and age. I felt she deserved this tribute.
Ann Wyrosdick — March 8, 2017