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Friday, March 2, 2012

I'm An Ambassador To What?

Ninety-seven years ago today this lady was born:

Gorgeous, huh? That's my grandma in 1935 when she was twenty years old, living with her parents in Idaho in the middle of the Great Depression.

In 1937 she married this guy:
Who she described like this, "He had a Hitler mustache and wore shiny boots and riding britches. And when he would drive up in the big Chrysler Coupe, I thought he was really something."
"He had the biggest ego I had ever known anyone to have, and his mustache always smelled a little bad when I kissed him, but I decided I would marry him."

Clearly she was madly in love with him. But maybe not so much his mustache. Kinda reminds me of how I felt about my husband's sideburns before we got married. (You can take a gander at them here).

Today I took this picture of two of their seven kids with their spouses and some of their kids and grand kids:
Twenty-one of my grandma's eighty-six descendants are pictured here (my three aren't because there was just no reason to add three more kids to this mix at Disneyland. Talk about herding cats). And that number doesn't include all the in-laws -- most of whom have stuck around. Each one of us who had the privilege of knowing Grandma thinks she loved him or her best of all. It's what she told each of us. It's what her parents told each of their twelve children.

I got to thinking a lot about my grandma this week when I signed up to be a blog ambassador for the 1940 US Census. Why would I do that, you ask? Because one, I like history--especially the family kind. And two, sometimes I'm a little impulsive and sign up for things before I know what in the heck I'm doing. And three, I can tell people I'm an ambassador now. Which makes me sound important.

A census is pretty cool because it can tell you a lot about someone if you look at the right things. For example the 1940 US Census could tell you my grandparents lived in Helena, Montana where Grandpa was doing construction and mining for gold. It could tell you Grandpa was thirty-eight at the time, while Grandma was only twenty-five. It would also tell you they didn't have any kids.

What it wouldn't tell you is that they were living in a little trailer house, which wasn't very nice, but a vast improvement over the box tent they'd been living in on the Snake River while my grandpa built a dam. It also wouldn't tell you that my grandma wasn't one of those cookie making grandmas. She grew up so poor that her mom never had anything besides milk and flour to cook with, so my grandma never learned. Although she did become a pretty proficient shopper once she did have some money. I guess shopping held more interest for her than cooking.

The Census also won't tell you that Grandma was kind and generous. She worried a lot about appearances, but she never valued things over people. In fact, she saw the worth of everyone she met, whether that person recognized her own value or not. My grandma taught me how to shop, but she also taught me what charity really is.

A census can tell you about a person, but it can't tell you who a person is.

So why does it matter?

Because it can lead you to people who can tell you who a person is. Or was. People like my grandma's brother Dick who published a book all about my grandma's family that includes memories from my grandma herself. Memories she told me, but that I don't have written down anywhere. Memories she can't tell me anymore.

Grandma has been gone for six years now. Ten really, if you count the dementia years. But I still think about her all the time. I had forgotten, though, that today was her birthday until I started thinking about what I was going to say about her when I wrote this post. But now I know.

Happy Birthday Grandma! I love you best of all!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Conversation-less Tuesday

No Tuesday breakfast for me friends. Instead I had a morning of being a responsible parent after deciding not to send Girl 3 to school with a cough. And a fever. Because you know if it had only been a cough there's no way I would have missed breakfast. But I made the sacrifice this morning.

Which really wasn't so terrible. Girl 3 was pretty cheerful for being sick and I got some things done. Still, I was looking forward to hearing about Andi's trip to Hawaii. I need someone to live vicariously through at the moment so as not to be tempted into watching The Kardashians again.

Sadly, no breakfast for me means no fascinating and/or hilarious insights to share with you. So, instead, I'll give you a little update on Candy and how she's adjusting to American life.

Turns out, quite well. She's decided to embrace that most homegrown of American religions: Mormonism. Of course those of us in the breakfast group, who happen to also be practitioners of that same religion, were relieved to hear she had studied the missionary materials in Mandarin. So at least she's got some inkling of what she's gotten herself into.

The thing not included in her materials though was what kind of underwear to wear on her baptism day. And no I don't mean the "magic" kind you've maybe heard about. I mean the basic white kind.

Because, you see, we baptize by immersion. This represents, not only a washing away of our sins, but also a rebirth. And we wear white when we are baptized to represent purity. But mostly, If you're wearing something white that's going to get wet, you need to have something white on underneath it. Because a hot pink bra? It's gonna show.

Not that Candy's bra was hot pink, but it wasn't white. And luckily Paula's mom figured this out before the baptism and gave Paula the assignment of finding Candy some white underwear. Which Candy didn't totally understand because she showed Paula the white bra she did have. With the green flowers on it. And she said, "This okay. This cute." and Paula didn't disagree, but still went to Walgreens in hopes of finding plain white underwear. Which isn't too hard when it come to panties. But bras are a different story. Especially when you only have an hour.

But she did it. She found some white granny panties and an ugly bra just in the nick of time. Paula presented them to Candy, apologizing that they weren't very cute* and Candy,who still seemed a little confused, graciously accepted and wore them. Thus an awkward after-baptism moment was successfully averted.

There is some concern, however, that Candy will be presenting future baptismal candidates with gifts of underwear. And while Paula successfully fulfilled her assignment, her mom didn't fare as well. She had the job of keeping Paula's twelve year old daughter away from any make-up other than mascara and clear lip gloss. So imagine Paula's surprise when they were all ready to walk out the door to the baptism and she happened to glance at her daughter. Who was wearing bright red lip gloss. And blue eye shadow. A lot of it.

Which begs the question, can't a mom catch a break?

No, no she can't.

But at least she didn't have to be embarrassed for her sister-in-law that day.

* Wait'll she gets a load of the "magic" kind some day (which, by the way, aren't magic at all. But it would be cool if they were. Maybe something like Harry Potter's invisibility cloak).