Thursday, June 4, 2009

Learning from those before you.

We are so blessed to have our Grandma. She has taught us so much. Many of the things we do we learned from her. Our Grandma lived through a much harder time, with different expectations than we have now. She did so much more than we will ever do in our lives. I think that often, we don't take in all that the people before us have to offer.

One of our favorite traditions is the Red Wall at our Grandma's house. Sometime ago, when our dad was about 20, Grandma painted a good part of her house red. Dad was writing letters back and forth to his family while he was away for a couple of years. We have many of the letters still. It is fun to read Dad and his family write about Grandma painting the room red! I think it was quite shocking to them particularly since they were all guys. At some point they painted most of it back to neutral color. But they left a portion red. It was where Grandma had been measuring her family. It has become a huge tradition for all of us and even our children, to mark their growth on the red wall. We mark the name and month and year.

Here is our older sister marking our Great-Aunt on the wall last week.

We like to find the last time we were measured ourselves and see how much we have grown.

We also like to see who else was that height and how old they were when they were that size. Rebecca's girls have totally outgrown her already. They were measuring much taller at their ages than she did at the same age (actually one is a good 6 inches taller then Rebecca was at the same age!). My boys have sprouted a lot in the last two years.

There are markings for people that are long gone now. Seeing their name and a date right there is such a great way to be reminded of them. It is so great to have this crazy red wall to look at for connecting to our family. It may seem like such a simple thing a young mom started many, many years ago. But it has become a tradition and something very special to us.
Grandma has taught us so many things. She lived through The Depression and keeps many of her ways from then. This one is a favorite of mine. In her linen closet, she keeps unwrapped bars of soap tucked in the towels and linens.

When you go to use a new pillowcase or towell, you pull it out and it always smells so fresh and clean. I love putting my head on a pillow with a clean smell and thinking of Grandma. This is something that I do in my own home. These pictures are from her cupboard though. I made sure to take pictures to remember just how she does it.

I already talked about this before in my Memorial Day post. We just missed being in Utah for Memorial Day by one day. But we made sure to make the trip anyway. We took along some watering cans and our cameras. Grandma and her sister live together now. We were so fortunate to have two women to learn from. We walked along the stones and heard amazing stories about the people before us.

The whole cemetary was covered with flowers. I remembered where some of the family plots were, but some I needed someone there to help me with. Our kids wandered through the cemetary. My 7 year old took it upon himself to put every potted plant upright. He went around for a good half hour while we wandered around visiting stories and family.

It was neat to see that my Great-Grandfather had gone out and carefully lined one of the family plots with a nice cement border. I am pretty sure they don't let you do that anymore. There were also two trees planted right in one of our plots.
The best part of the whole thing was listening to my Grandmother and Great-Aunt telling us stories of our ancestors. They told us about their childhood and all kinds of magical things.

I'm so glad that we still have two living Grandmothers and lots of Aunts and of course our Mother around to teach us the things they have learned.
Do you have someone you are still learning from? Do you take the time to actually listen? I think one of the best things I did on my vacation was to listen and try to take it all in. They have done it before. There is so much to take in and I just hope I have time to absorb as much as I can. And I hope that one day, my children will want to follow with some of the things I'm learning now.


Deb said...

Reading your post made me just a little bit sad. My grandmas had both passed away by the time I turned 10. How I loved them and remember the little lessons they taught me. How awesome for you to get to spend time with your Grandma, remembering and loving and learning!

The Queen of Clearance said...

I love my grandmas so much! They are like my best friends. It is good that you have these memories of yours, you can keep them with you for a life time! I put dryer sheets in between on linens and towels in our linen closet to make ours smell good! But i love the smell of our soap sooo much I just might have to try this!

Sondra said...

This is such a heart warming post. I loved it. I loved the red walls and the letters. Such a treasure to have this bit of history and all the height markings - priceless.

I loved this soap idea. I don't use soap and people give them to me in baskets all the time. Now I have something to do with them. (I only use caress soap and can't use anything else - it dries my skin).

I really feel family love in this blog - such a wonderful family you belong to!

twinkle teaches said...

I really like the soap/linen closet idea! You have one cool grandma!!! :)

Jackie B said...

I've also learned from others who lived through the Depression that when you unwrap your soap and "let it dry out" a bit, it lasts longer than the "moister" ones right from the wrapper. I guess you might use a little less that way.