I have always adored my grandmother, and loved spending time at her house. Maybe it was because there was always cake in the refrigerator for dessert, or the ice cream and snacks she gave us in the evening. But, I think it was the love she showed us all every time we visited. She always had room for one more and she always scrubbed us extra hard behind our ears at night in the bath. Her house had such a familiar and good smell. How could my grandmother be alone in this house most days - when we were growing up she probably yearned for a day alone. Or maybe she didn’t?
I remember her telling me about coming to the US from England as a young 17 year-old on a boat with several other young women who married soldiers but I wanted to hear the stories again. I wanted my kids to hear the stories from her. So, we sat there that afternoon relishing in the stories she shared about going to dances with the soldiers, but not my grandfather, she met him at the beer hall! She smiled and gave a little laugh as she admitted that. My son asked what kinds of dances and she told him not the kind people do nowadays, nice dances like the waltz. He didn’t know what she was talking about but I bet he googled it later.
She told us that after they were married, she and my grandfather went on a trip to the coast of England and on their last day they went to the market and he bought her a “great big basket of strawberries” and her English accent slipped out as she said “strawberries”. My kids giggled and asked her to say it again. She entertained their request, smiling because she knew what they were up to. Then she went on to tell them that was so special because with the rations you really couldn’t get things like strawberries, making it a real treat. After that, my grandfather reported for military duty and she stayed with her parents until after the war. When he returned safely to the US, he sent for her.
As a teenager, she left her family and everything she knew to head to the US to be with her husband. The boat wasn’t a luxury cruise liner, but one that was used to carry the troops. Many were sick and the trip was long. Once they arrived in the US, she proudly tells us that “Lloyd was there waiting”. She was one of the fortunate ladies, because others made the long trip only to not be picked up by their soldier, and to be sent back across the sea to return home brokenhearted. The kids were intrigued by her story and asked questions about the boat, about the sea, and she said she would never go on another large boat after that.
That afternoon, my grandmother smiled and laughed as she shared her cherished memories, bringing them back to her so clear. She told us it seems like yesterday, but yet it was over 70 years ago. She is one amazing lady and I wish I could listen to her stories every single day. The love that she shared that day was enough for a lifetime, but that’s what she has always done. She loved us freely and each memory we share will always be a treasure I hold in my heart!
This story seems important to share now because today we are in a time where we are experiencing shortages of items we usually can find easily in the stores. It can be stressful or it can be a time we are extra thankful for what we do have - like my grandmother was thankful for the strawberries that day. We are spending extra time with our immediate families and we have an opportunity to make great memories which one day we will cherish and be thankful for the time we have been given to slow down, enjoy the people around us and focus on the good happening.
My grandmother turned 92 last week, quarantined in her house alone and unable to celebrate with those who love her! But when this is all over, we will celebrate with her and show her how much we love her!