Sunday, August 27, 2017

Grandmothers, then and now

I saw this picture on Facebook,


and it coalesced so many thoughts that have been swirling around in my head for the past almost 4 years since I became a grandmother. Look at that woman. Isn't that the way most of us who are in our 50s and older remember our grammies looking. Floral print dresses with a half apron tied around their waists. I can picture the shoes - what used to be called 'sensible shoes.' And one of my grandmothers had those thick, cottony, brownish stockings. As I've noted before in my letters, I have no cooking memories with either of my grandmothers, except for my paternal one making homemade bread. And even then, I didn't see her make it. She just came into a room with it. This probably happened only once. Both my grammies were old when I was born, and already had a passel of grandchildren. I didn't live in the same town as them and visits were quiet afternoons with me sitting and listening to the grownups talk. I loved them both intensely but I just didn't see them enough.

Back to those rambling thoughts. My grandchildren have seen me in a dress only once at our niece's wedding. All my shoes are 'sensible' but not those clunky, heeled ones like old women used to wear. I never wear an apron, and if I did, it would be the long ones that go over the neck. But I look at the woman in the picture and I just think she is oh, so beautiful. Maybe in my seventies, I shall begin to dress like that. But I know I won't. Dresses aren't really very practical, though I love Lily Tomlin's in Grace and Frankie.

My babysitter when I was a kid had antimacassars on her furniture. I don't know how long it has been since I've seen one. And doilies. Many of my women relatives seem to have made doilies. And they embroidered pillowcases. All gone. Or at least they aren't anywhere in my travels.

I'm not one of those women who try to look young. I'm 69 and look every year of it. I'm happy with my grandmother status. But I feel kind of badly that Hazel, Campbell, and Indy won't ever see that woman in the picture. I have taken to wearing my hair back in a clip which feels 'grandmotherly' to me, but I think there will have to be another wedding before the kids see Nana in a dress again.

Here's a goofy-pose picture Hazel Nina took recently. I don't often put up photos of me, but I thought it fitting for this post.

20 comments:

  1. You don't look anything like the grandmother in that photo. You might feel like it every once in awhile. I often wonder when I will feel like a grandmother. My Grands live far away. I have seen them only a few times. I know they don't have an idea of who I am. A sad reality. You are blessed to have your Grands not so far away. They are blessed to have you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your nice words. I am so sorry that your kids and grandkids live far away. Can you Face time? That seems to be a wonderful way to keep in touch.

      Delete
  2. Nan, you will be Hazel Nina's perfect memory of a grandmother, one that she will be nostalgic about someday in the very far future, I hope!

    There is something about the picture you led with that touched me too. And I first saw it on Tara Dillard's landscape blog where she wrote a moving post about it, as you have here.

    I never saw one of my grandmothers wear anything but dresses, and hose every day, those thick brown ones. My other grandmother was younger and did wear pants and even shorts at the beach. About 15 years ago I swore I would never wear another dress and have kept to it except for my daughter's wedding 5 years ago and I'll be wearing one soon in our son's wedding, a long navy chiffon skirt with a knit ruffly low cut blouse. Even with a big necklace to fill in some of that bare space on my neck, I know I'll still be self-conscious all evening! Even though this will be an outdoor farmhouse wedding, there will be an elegant touch to it so this was my compromise to fit in--but I will be wearing sturdy shoes because I'll have a hill to climb in the wedding processional and I do not want to fall down!

    Even though my grandmothers were good cooks, the only thing I remember was the cookies one of them made, that I still make today. Now my mother will be a different story with her grandchildren, all of them had favorites that Nana made.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I loved reading this. I've never had anything 'low cut' even as a kid! I hope you post pictures of you at the wedding! Such great words 'outdoor farmhouse wedding.' My grandsons' other grandmother is 21 years younger than I am, and she wears dresses frequently!

      Delete
  3. What a lovely post...I wonder if we feel nostalgia about how our Grandma's looked in our memories because of how they made us feel? I too felt love from my Grandparents and think fondly of the things that remind me of them ..how they looked, possessions that owned plants they grew ..pets they kept ..now I wonder if it was the good feelings I associate with them that make these things so special ? I think I shall try a write a post on my Grandmother.
    I believe your Grand children will appreciate the love you share with them and think fondly of how you look and the things and times they associate with you. That is a lovely photo of you by the way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I debated on whether to post it or not, but finally did because Hazel had taken it. I'd love to know more about my grandmothers' likes in flowers, etc. I wish I'd known them when they were younger. I look forward to the post on your grandmother.

      Delete
  4. Nan -- I first thought about this when I was a young Grandmother (about your age perhaps or younger maybe) ... when my (then) early-teen-age grand-daughter, my daughter, and I were all dressed in blue jeans and a T-shirt, going somewhere, doing something together .... and I remembered when I was kelsey's age even my mother wouldn't have been seen in pants ... and my grandmother dressed entirely different ... pretty much just as you remember yours. Please don't say you'll change when you're in your 70s! I'm almost as close to 80 as you are to 70 and I'm still wearing jeans (albeit the kind with a higher waistline than the younger generations)....

    I wish my grandmother were still around so that I could ask her if she felt bad because she didn't wear long dresses and corsets like her mother probably did ;>)...... (Also, my own mother did allow herself to wear pants -- not jeans -- in her later years -- and she loved polyester and no ironing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, those polyester pants. How I hated them! Of course, I was then the hippie girl who wouldn't be caught dead in anything like that. Haha (actually still true) I have found a company that makes dresses that I love, that I look fairly good in, and is a great concept that I believe it. http://www.marketplaceindia.com/ and https://marketplacehandworkofindia.wordpress.com/

      Delete
  5. I loved this post and even though one grandmother died before I was born and the other when I was 12, I recall the aprons and thick stockings and "sensible shoes". Heck, my mom even wore the half aprons while cooking or doing dishes and yes, always a dress (never pants - even when gardening ) and of course,"sensible shoes".

    I fall into the more modern, stylist gramme (but nothing extreme) but, hardly a days goes by that I don't ask myself "where have the years gone"? From one gramme to another - rejoice in the experience and enjoy each day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can actually remember my father not wanting my mother to go downstreet shopping in pants! Ah, the good old days. (sarcasm) I've never understood half aprons. When I cook it is always my shirt that gets spills on it.

      Delete
  6. Actually, I DO wear dresses. Well, skirts actually. I find myself gravitating towards them now that I've lost my girlish figure (when I DID wear jeans almost uniformly). And I wear an apron now and then, too. Especially when cooking or cleaning up. That way, I don't have to change clothes so many times...

    My grandmother was exactly the type you describe. I loved her dearly. Find it almost impossible to think that I am close to the age at which I considered her quite "old" ♥

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I'm sure you look beautiful. I kind of picture myself in those flowing dresses that I mentioned Frankie wears, but my reality is that I don't wear them. I'm older than either of my parents ever got to. It is very, very strange.

      Delete
  7. Your a beautiful gramma! I only remember seeing my grandma in a dress on rare occasion, though never in her life did she wear jeans! Chicken and dumplin's was what I remember her cooking most and big pots of pinto beans. She was from Tennessee. She did have doilies on her furniture and we weren't allowed to sit on it! Kids on the floor! Grandpa's chair was allowed and our favorite and if he came in the room you got up for him to sit without a word spoken. I noticed this summer that my grandkids do the same thing with my husbands chair! Funny that, I don't remember really teaching them that!


    My mom was a fancy dresser all her life until she hit 70ish. Then she lived in Chic jeans and capri's in the summer. I'm only 59 and my granddaughter is 13 already! She just took a bunch of clothes home with her that didn't fit me anymore! I don't think they'll remember me in the kitchen like we remember our grandma's. More for the summer trips and hours at the kitchen table playing board games and cuddling with a book. How times change. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I look forward to board games and reading with them when they are older. I kinda wish I were ten years younger. Gosh, when my grandkids are in their early teens I shall be 80! Yikes! So funny about the chair - in both time periods. I had an aunt who had plastic on her furniture! And she had only one daughter and a husband.

      Delete
  8. Like someone else here said before me, Hazel and your other grandchildren will remember YOU as their grandmother, and to them, this will be THE grandmother to remember when they grow up, the woman they knew and loved first apart from their own mother. They would not love you any more or less if you wore floral print dresses, aprons and your hair in a bun :-)

    My maternal grandmother was the one that was truly present in my life; I hardly remember my Dad's mother. She died when I was about 4. My maternal grandmother was around until January 2001, so she was there long enough to see me and my sister grow up. The one thing I never heard from her (or my grandfather, for that matter) was "not now" or "I don't have time" - and that is the best gift any grandparent can give, one that you are giving most generously to Hazel and your other grandchildren!

    As for dresses not being practical, I disagree - I find them highly practical, no matter whether I wear one to the office or at home or for "special occasions" :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I guess I meant practical for my life, which is mostly at home. First of all with our cold weather, but also because I'm indoors and out all day. Your life is perfect for dresses! That's really true about the time thing. When I had kids I had other things I had to do - cook, clean, etc. and many mums have jobs, too - so there wasn't as much time to just 'be' with them. When I'm with the grandkids, they are ALL I think about.

      Delete
  9. I love this beautiful post, Nan. All your thoughts about your own grandmothers and about being a grandmother touched my heart. I am not remarried, but have lived with my current partner, Brian, for nearly six years now. He has six grandchildren, and they are my grandkids too, even if not officially. I am the jeans and a tshirt granny, I guess, though I do occasionally don a dress or a skirt. I think the photo of you is wonderful. You are making memories with your grandchildren that are true to you and to our times. They will look back nostalgically, I am sure, though I can't even begin to imagine what their "times" will be like!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Love this, Nan, and also enjoyed seeing your newer post of your grammies.
    My paternal grandmother lived with us. I rarely saw my maternal grandmother. Neither ever wore pants and my mother never wore them. My mother-in-law did, and she wore them well. I learned to cook from my grandmother, but, only by watching her. A fabulous cook, she could not read nor write. Having a cooking relationship with my granddaughter is joy.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Oh, your memories of your grandmothers are so like mine. They did wear the floral prints and the aprons. My grandma got dolled up in turquoise (her favorite color) to go to bridge clubs but I never saw her wear pants. I never wear dresses, either!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Since moving to Kentucky I've noticed what must be a 'southern' look for grandmothers: hair done in short poufs, makeup and jewelry, two piece outfits with elastic waistbands. I definitely don't fit this style--I"m still in jeans and pullover tops, long straight grey hair pulled back in a barrette or rubberband. I do, on occasion, wear longish skirts.

    ReplyDelete

I'll answer your comments as soon as I possibly can. Please do come back if you've asked a question.
Also, you may comment on any post, no matter how old, and I will see it.