Saturday, July 8th at 8:20 A.M. my Grandma Glenna took her last breath. Her death was a welcome release from the last few weeks of suffering. She was 97 years old, and until 22 days ago had lived in her home on her own.
By the world's standards Grandma's life didn't amount to much. She dropped out of school after 8th grade due to a hearing problem and being needed on the family farm. She never learned to drive a car. Didn't have a career. She mostly stayed home caring for her children. She had seven. One died as an infant.
But mere facts, as ever, don’t tell the whole story. And as much as I’d like to capture the essence of who Grandma was, I’ll probably fail. Ninety-seven years of a life well-lived is hard to encapsulate in just a few paragraphs.
So instead, I’d like to tell you why I love Grandma. For starters, she’s an optimist. Whenever I’d visit Grandma, she’s invariably laugh in recounting her latest struggles with advancing age. Why even this spring she decided that you’re never too old to be a missionary and she began taking Books of Mormon to the neighbors on her block.
Grandma was an open book. Literally. She allowed my Uncle Mark to type up her journals and have copies made during her lifetime. She wasn’t shy about sharing the stories of her young adulthood, marriage, and early years of motherhood. And they weren’t easy. I was especially touched as she wrote of her experience of losing baby Joan (pronounced Joe-anne). Below are some excerpts from the journal of my grandmother.
I am going to try keeping a diary. I have a desire to do this – for several reasons: to give vent to my feelings, hoping to improve myself and to leave a record.
My husband Clarence, myself, our two children (Jenay and Marilyn), his parents, and brother Rulon and wife arrived. Where? Lemhi, Idaho – 30 miles from Salmon – Salmon being around 300 miles from Logan. Clarence and his father drove the truck with the belongings of all. Rulon drove his sedan with all the women folk. When we arrived it was late and toward evening. There was no heat, as the stove or kitchen range had not been set up. And for that reason there was no warm meal waiting. We were cold; I worried about the children. Jenay was just 2 years old and Marily was 37 days old. We got through the night somehow. We practically lived in the kitchen–about a 9x12 room–as this was the only room that we could afford to heat
(Moved from Salmon, Idaho to Darby, Montana)
July 21, 1938
Tomorrow baby, Mark, will be 6 months old. How he has grown. He is so sweet and beginning to notice things.
I think we are certainly blessed this year with so many good rains, the neighbors here in Darby, (Montana) are saying it must be because of the Mormons coming here. Here’s hoping we can succeed in well doing.
January 10, 1939
Christmas has come and gone. We had fun playing Santa Claus to the children. Jenay got a doll and dishes and go-cart. Marilyn a doll, cradle and broom. Mark some tinker toys.
February 16, 1939
I feel miserable – bet I am pregnant.
September 10, 1939 – Sunday
Today I stayed home from church for the first time in months. Only five more weeks until the baby comes. I get tired so easily – my back and leg pains me awful some days. My fruit is all up. I can’t have more than 150 quarts. Fruit is so high, apples will have to do. We’ve had very few tomatoes and none to can. My garden froze just before corn and tomatoes came on. I put up 30 quarts of beans and about that many peas.
The men are about through harvesting. I’m about tired of cooking for men.
War has started in Europe.
The baby turned 3 weeks old yesterday. . . . She is a cute little thing, and favors Jenay. The nurse said she was the cutest baby in the hospital. We will name her Joan.
January 4, 1940
What a lot has happened since I last wrote last – one of the saddest events of my life. Our sweet baby died. Monday, December 11, 1939 I picked her up that morning thinking she was asleep. I tried to wake her before I realized she would wake no more in this life. The shock was awful. I yelled for Clarence who was outside a block or so. All my friends came soon after to console me.
The doctor said the glands of her throat were swollen. We took her to Lemhi that night and went on to Logan the next day. The funeral was in my sister Vera’s house. Many relatives came. She is now resting in the Logan Cemetery.
I’ve missed the baby so much since coming home. It’s hard to content myself. I have such a longing to see her again. I love my family and hope I may live worthy to have my baby in the next life and . . . that I may have more.
Had to give up the farm in Darby, Montana – over a year later
May 4, 1941
There are several things I would like to accomplish in this life besides rearing a good family. And that is to do research work and temple work for my dead ancestors; also for Clarence and I to go on a mission and that I might become a better piano player and singer. Can we do it? Yes, if we are determined.
(End of excerpts)
I can’t help but think that today Grandma will be having a happy reunion with her husband and infant daughter. Really, I think that Grandma accomplished every goal that she set. She was a humble and determined woman!