Mary Louise was born on April 19th, 1924, and she lived for 86 years and 8 days. That’s 31 thousand, 400 and 19 days. Humanity marks time in many ways, from the tiny nanosecond to the Earth changing epoch. But the most prescious time that we have, is our lifetime. Because we can only remember the one that we are living.
Mary Louise, Was, Is, will always be, my grandmother, and I will always remember her as Gramma. But she was far more in her lifetime than just Gramma. She was Daughter, sister, Aunt wife, Mother Grandmother, Great Grandmother and even Great Great Grandmother. All those things, plus she was also known to many more as friend. She truly lived a Lifetime.
My gramma was a woman who’s life could have filled many lifteimes of an ordinary person, but Mary was rather extraordinary. She didn’t take the easy way out, and she didn’t give up. Born in the roaring 20’s she saw the great depression, and studied her way through World War II. She became a Nurse, and married Grampa Oliver and raised a family. Not seperately, but at the same time. In a time when most women gave up their careers to be homemakers and mothers, she kept her career and took care of her family too. She didn’t have a womans lib agenda, she just knew that what she and Grampa wanted from their life would require hard work, and she was never afraid of it.
She gave the world her time, her love and 4 amazing children. One of them, my father. Mark, Barbara, Danny and Steve. Each one a testament to the woman that she was. Mark, independent and strong willed, Barbara , Loving and devoted, Danny adventurous and hard working, and Steve clever and dedicated. All of them Intelligent and informed, they found their way in the world using the tools that Mary and Oliver had given them. Each in their own way finding sucess and enjoying their own Lifetime.
Mary Spent 40+ years as a Nurse at Strong Hospital in Rochester. She touched so many lives in some of their darkest hours, and she always brought a little light. She cared about her patients and her co-workers as well. I remember Gramma in her nurses uniform, all crisp and starched, cap on just so, and her crepe soled shoes, always spotless. ( which wasn’t easy in a house full of kids and dogs!) I remember sitting in a hospital with her some years ago and she commented on the lax dress code of today, and how nurses no longer wore the starched whites and caps that they worked so hard for in her day. She told me that it was one of her proudest days when she recieved her nurses cap, and to her it was better than a tiara, because she earned it.
I know that in her lifetime, she found many smiles, because one thing that Mary loved was to laugh. She had to have a sense of humor to live in our family anyway, because without it she probably would have just gone nuts! We are lucky in this family that our Gramma wasn’t camera shy. We have pictures from so many occasions, and in so many of them she is laughing at something that one of us had done. Whether it was making rude noises or sly comments, we gave her plenty to laugh at.
Gramma had her foibles too, and who can blame her, Nobody is perfect after all. She hated rodents, especially mice and rats. during the first winter after Grampa passed I came to stay with Gramma and help her out. One of my duties was to put out rat poison. I told her that I didn’t mind doing it, but that the little buggers would probably die in the walls and stink up the place, but she was adamant, She said she would rather smell them rotting in her walls than Pooping in her cupboards! I came home from work one night and found all the lights on in the house and the TV going, but no car in th driveway. When I got to the house there was a note on the door that said “ I’m at ma’s, come and get me after you clean out the mouse trap behind the stove.” When I got to Great Gramma’s house to pick her up, she told me that she was watching the evening news when she heard the trap go off, and she stood up and put on her coat and grabbed her purse and walked out the door! She wasn’t gonna be in the house where she knew there was a mouse twitching around under the stove!
When I think of Gramma, I have so many memories that I barely know where to begin, but certain things stand out in my mind. Being a little kid an gramma giving me a bath in the kitchen sink. Gramma making pancakes on a sunday morning at the farm. Gramma never sitting still during thanksgiving dinner. I remember sitting with her in the twilight waiting for the first star to appear, and trying to see who would spot it first. I think she won more times than I did. Gramma always had some candy stashed and other tasty treats around.
One Lifetime. It’s probably one of the most valuable measures of time that Humanity has.
I know that in her lifetime she touched many lives and I truly believe she made each one better. In my memory she will always be laughing and smiling. I hope that she will be doing the same in yours.